Maureen Dowd does it again: What’s the old joke? We were at a boxing match and a hockey game broke out?
Yesterday morning, we were conducting our latest vigil concerning Maureen Dowd. In 1992, Katherine Boo warned the press corps about the journalism she derided as “Creeping Dowdism.”
By now, the spawn of that Dowdism has crept all over the land. But in the years since Boo issued her warning, only one career journalist has told the truth about Dowd.
That was Times public editor Clark Hoyt, who savaged Dowd for her horrible conduct in June 2008. Chastened, Dowd dropped the inanity for a while.
Before long, the Dowdism came roaring back. Yesterday morning, it was noticed by other journalists in what is now a widely discussed and hopelessly bungled column.
We were conducting our lonely vigil and a War Against Dowd broke out! We saw it first in this post by Kevin Drum, who correctly said this:
“Maureen Dowd has been an embarrassment for a long time.”
Yesterday’s uproar concerned the latest instance in which Dowd invented a quote. In the course of doing so, she did what she has done for decades—she generated a personality-centered hissing match in which an election campaign has been transformed into a battle about trumped-up personality piddle.
This is precisely what Boo warned about in 1992. But Dowd just continued to play her games, and the press corps happily followed.
What can you say about a press corps which tolerates a gong show like Dowd? The only thing you can say is this:
Quite plainly, it isn’t a press corps!
That said, let’s make a point about yesterday’s column which we haven’t seen made.
In yesterday’s column, Dowd described a conversation with mayoral front-runner Bill de Blasio at the Good Times coffee shop in Greenwich Village. Except, as things turned out, Dowd had actually been in a place called the Good Stuff Diner.
Journalists make mistakes!
Dowd started out with the stupid stuff concerning the Red Sox and “voting your vagina.” In paragraph 6, she finally started describing her conversation with the candidate.
Here’s how the hard-copy column appeared. What do you notice here?
DOWD (8/21/13): At the Good Times coffee shop in Greenwich Village on Monday, de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, sat down to talk, pleased that they were no longer “laboring in the vineyard,” as the candidate dryly put it.As it turned out, that isn’t what McCray actually said; Dowd had greatly rearranged her actual statement. Nor had McCray not made that statement in the Good Times coffee shop.
Asked why Quinn was not rallying women, McCray, a mother of two, replied: “She’s not accessible. She’s not the kind of person that I feel that I can go up and talk to about issues like taking care of children at a young age and paid sick leave.”
Put all that to the side! Isn’t something a little bit strange when a column starts this way—not by quoting the candidate, but by quoting his spouse?
Once again, let’s be precise. Dowd wasn’t “quoting” anyone there; that isn’t what McCray really said. In our view, de Blasio may have been unwise to have McCray at the coffee shop, diner or swim club at all. But that’s a whole different question.
Reporting her chat with the new front-runner, Dowd started off with the candidate’s wife! And lord god of hosts, did she ever start off with the wife! In our hard-copy paper, this is the way the bungled, presumably dishonest column continued:
DOWD (continuing directly): Last spring, McCray did an interview with Essence magazine about her feelings about being a black lesbian who fell in love with a white heterosexual, back in 1991, when she worked for the New York Commission on Human Rights and wore African clothing and a nose ring and he was an aide to then-Mayor David Dinkins. With her husband, she was also interviewed by the press in December and was asked if she was no longer a lesbian, and she answered ambiguously: “Sexuality is a fluid thing, and it’s personal. I don’t even understand the question, quite frankly.”By now, we were well past the halfway point and the candidate hadn’t been heard from! Quite literally, Dowd got the nose ring into the wife’s nose before wasting time with the hopeful!
But a lot has happened since then in this campaign season of interesting sexual proclivities and possible firsts. Besides the woman who wants to be the first first lady who used to be a lesbian, there is also Kim Catullo, the wife of Quinn, who would be the first first lady who is a married lesbian.
Then there is the perverse Carlos Danger who wants to be the first mayor who plastered pictures of his privates online.
She also munched on weiner a bit. Attention must be paid!
Dowd’s quotation of McCray was, simply put, a phony. It doesn’t come close to being a “quote.” That simply isn’t what McCray said, although some of the same words are in there.
In reinventing what McCray said, Dowd made her comments more juicy. This touched off a pleasing food fight between Quinn and de Blasio.
Plainly, yesterday’s misquotation was deliberate. Only a fool could believe Dowd’s absurd explanation/excuse.
Maureen Dowd wanted to start a food fight. With great speed, she succeeded.
That said, let’s put the misquotation aside and consider Dowd’s subject matter. She wanted to show you McCray’s black skin. She wanted to mention those African clothes. “She’s a black lesbian,” Dowd wanted to say. The candidate’s wife is a black lesbian who says ambiguous things about sex!
First the Red Sox, then the vagina. Then, she put the bone in the nose—and yes, that’s precisely what she did. Meanwhile, go ahead—see if the candidate says a single freaking thing at any point in this column! Of course, when Dowd interviewed Candidate Quinn, she built her column around the color of Quinn’s toenail polish (teal).
This is the world of Maureen Dowd, the most influential print “journalist” of the past thirty years.
Dowd has constantly made up quotes. Her “moral and intellectual paralysis” is the much larger problem:
Her horrible throwback gender values. The misogyny for which Hoyt soundly attacked her. Her perpetual flight from issues of substance. Her focus on toenail polish, rings through the nose, surrogate siblings and bald spots.
Good God! Her horrible sliming of Howard Dean’s wife, whose wardrobe was totally wrong!
This big pile of crap will spread, Boo warned. By now, the kudzu has crept through the land. But our journalists only notice the problem when Dowd commits one of her flat misquotations! This really is what your “press corps” is like as dowdism covers the land.
Tomorrow: Who is Amy Chozick?
The children will be quiet: To our ear, Dowd's portrait of McCray has a plain racial feel. But don't worry! There is one place you won't hear such an outrageous idea!
The children on The One True Channel will not discuss what Dowd did. They find their racism in safer places. They shriek about Klan-like rodeo clowns, or about the occasional tow truck driver.
Dowd is a very powerful player. The kids will be seen but not heard.
They are terrible corporate children. They're making our tribe very dumb.