Will MSNBC follow suit: Way back in 1999, the values of the modern press corps were captured in a classic anecdote in a classic profile.
The anecdote appeared in the Brill’s Content portrait of Maureen Dowd. Reporter Gay Jervey quoted Joe Klein telling a press corps-defining tale:
JERVEY (6/99): “Maureen is very talented,” observes Joe Klein of The New Yorker. “But she is ground zero of what the press has come to be about in the nineties...I remember having a discussion with her in which I said, 'Maureen, why don't you go out and report about something significant, go out and see poor people, do something real?' And she said, ‘You mean I should write about welfare reform?’”Maureen Dowd rolled her eyes at the very idea of writing about welfare reform. Yesterday, though, she finally did it, in this once in a lifetime column in the Sunday Review.
Dowd’s piece was a profile of Patty Stonesifer, the head of a Washington, D.C. social welfare organization. What on earth could Dowd have been thinking? In this passage, she thumb-nailed her subject:
DOWD (6/2/13): After serving as the highest-ranking woman at Microsoft, Stonesifer helped Bill and Melinda Gates start their philanthropy in an office above a Seattle-area pizza parlor in 1997. With Bill Gates Sr. at her side, she was its first chief executive, for 11 years, as it tried to eradicate polio; treat and prevent malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis; and reduce the United States high school dropout rate. They built the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation into the world’s largest philanthropy, with more than 500 employees and a $39 billion endowment—a sum “higher than the gross domestic products of 70 percent of the world’s nations,” according to The Los Angeles Times.We’re glad Stonesifer is running Martha’s Table. But if you read the entire profile, along with the earlier profile it quotes, you’ll see the checklist which must be met before Dowd will stoop this low:
Now, as Bill and Melinda Gates offer a $100,000 reward to anyone who can design a better condom that will promote “regular use,” Stonesifer is taking on a fresh challenge of her own as head of Martha’s Table, a Washington community organization (named after the kitchen-bound biblical Martha) that supplies food, clothes, day care and educational programs for those in need.
“Having Stonesifer come run a small local charity is like General Electric business titan Jack Welch showing up to manage the corner appliance store,” The Washington Post noted.
Stonesifer is the wife of Michael Kinsley, a long-time friend of Dowd’s.
Stonesifer is worth tens of millions of dollars, due to her years with Gates.
Stonesifer (nee Quigley) grew up Irish Catholic.
Stonesifer is the wealthy, well-connected Irish Catholic wife of a very good friend. She even makes people think of Jack Welch! With these points checked, Dowd will stoop to discuss a topic like this, perhaps every fourteen years.
On the front page of yesterday’s Times, a more significant milestone occurred. At long last, the paper finally began to tackle one of the foundational questions in American society and government:
Who is looting American citizens through the crazy over-spending which defines our health care system? Yesterday, we offered some initial thoughts about the first report in this promised series, which is quite a few years overdue.
Dowd will not be discussing this topic, which lies at the very heart of our budget problems and our growing economic inequality. Here’s our question:
Will the fiery stars on The One True Channel tackle this topic in the next year? Progressives should start pushing hard, right now, concerning the future direction this high-profile series will take.
Dowd won’t be doing that. Will anyone tackle this topic at MSNBC, where we liberals go to spend time with our imaginary friends?
Way back when, Maureen Dowd rolled her eyes at the very thought of covering welfare reform. Will the One True Channel lobby the Times about the gigantic new topic it has undertaken?