That 21-year-old intern has finally appeared!


He draws back the curtain on Bloomberg: Years ago, the nation’s “journalists” invented a fictional character.

She was known as the 21-year-old intern. In fact, she wasn’t 21, and she wasn’t an intern! But saying she was made the story sound good. And so, the “journalists” pretended.

(Then they began to pretend about Gore. Liberal leaders let these things go, or they played an active role in the clowning.)

Yesterday, in the New York Times, an actual 21-year-old intern finally appeared on the scene! Thanks to this intern’s work, we have a clearer picture of the way Mayor Bloomberg came to appoint an inexperienced, unqualified Hearst executive to head the New York City schools back in 2010.

The Hearst exec was named Catherine Black, and she was a pal of the mayor. How did someone like Black end up as head of the city’s schools?

That was always a very good question! In this passage, columnist Jim Dwyer describes the highly constructive behavior of a young intern at the Village Voice:
DWYER (5/8/13): Ms. Black, the chairwoman of Hearst, had no experience in public education, and like her predecessor, Joel I. Klein, lacked the credentials legally required to serve in the position. Mr. Klein suddenly resigned in the fall of 2010, and Mr. Bloomberg immediately announced that he was putting Ms. Black into the position.

“There was lots of controversy about how there had not been a public search for Joel Klein’s successor, so I was hoping that there was something in the e-mails that might shed light on the selection process,” said Sergio Hernandez, then a reporting intern for The Village Voice.

So he filed a request for the records under the New York State Freedom of Information Law.

At the time, Mr. Hernandez was 21 years old. Good thing he started young.
Today, Sergio Hernandez is 24. But back in 2010, he was an actual 21-year-old intern! From his post at the Village Voice, he filed a Freedom of Information request concerning the appointment of Black.

Three years later, we have information about the way Bloomberg chose Black for that job, for which she needed a formal waiver due to her lack of qualifications.

May heaven help us, every one! Here’s the way Bloomberg pursued the waiver his appointee needed:
DWYER (continuing directly): Last week, after a 30-month legal fight that could cost the city $100,000 in legal expenses, the e-mails were released. They showed a mad scramble by Ms. Black, who was still the chairwoman at Hearst, and people in City Hall to line up powerful women to support her for chancellor. It was part of a campaign to win her a waiver she needed. No one would mistake it for a grass-roots effort: an endorsement from Oprah Winfrey was brokered, and backing was sought from public figures like Diane von Furstenberg, Donna Karan, Evelyn Lauder and Whoopi Goldberg.

The correspondence read as if it might have been lifted from The Onion, the satirical newspaper. Had the Bloomberg administration really sought educational policy endorsements from what looked like the guest list of Studio 54 in about 1978? (For one hot moment, a blurb from Ivanka Trump was discussed with City Hall, possibly a concession to 21st-century celebrity, but that was vetoed…)

Most remarkably, as Mr. Hernandez has pointed out, Ms. Black, who won the waiver she and Mr. Bloomberg sought, served only 95 days before she was forced out. The dispute over these e-mails has lasted nearly 10 times as long as her chancellorship.
God help us! How does a billionaire mayor get a formal waiver so an unqualified friend can run his city’s schools? Simple! He seeks endorsements from the likes of Donna Karan, Diane von Furstenberg, Evelyn Lauder.

In fairness, he passed on Ivanka!

By now, our national culture is a consummate rotted-out joke. Let’s note two basic themes which emerge from this pitiful story:

Part of this story involves the efforts of the young and not-yet-corrupted. In this case, it took an actual 21-year-old intern to file those Freedom of Information requests. Regular journalists didn’t bother.

Shades of the three graduate students who checked Reinhart and Rogoff’s work!

Meanwhile, because that intern filed that request, we found out what Gotham’s adult authorities were doing. The adults were acting like clowns.

Our society is crumbling from the top. Once in a while, three graduate students, or a young intern, emerge to draw back the curtain on the upper-end clowns.

With an honorable mention: In this case, columnist Dwyer, who isn’t an intern, clearly deserves to get a mention as a righteous adult.


  1. Who checked Reinhart and Rogoff? Not three graduate students. It was one graduate student (Thomas Herndon) and two professors, (Michael Ash and Robert Pollin). So let's be fair to professors!

  2. For God's sake Somerby, you're compromising your brand by persistent errors. It was one graduate student and two professors. This has been noted before, but you persist in attributing "three" graduate students. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    1. That's his thesis: professors are elitist chickenshit know-nothings. He'd be undercutting this by acknowledging this simple fact. Do what Somerby says, not what he does.

  3. I'm not the least bit shocked at the list of Ms. Black's supporters for the job of NYC schools chancellor. My question would be: why would Ms. Black want the job?

  4. But I thought Oprah and Whoopie were on our side!