Part 3—Diane Sawyer’s concern: Yesterday morning, the New York Times discussed the so-called “word gap.”
Motoko Rich’s news report topped the paper’s National section. It ran beneath this headline: “Pediatrics Group to Recommend Reading Aloud to Children From Birth.”
Good for the New York Times and good for Motoko Rich! In her report, she discussed the advantages which are said to accrue from early immersion in literacy.
And not only that! At the very end of her report, she mentioned Hillary Clinton:
RICH (6/24/14): Dr. Navsaria is the medical director of the Wisconsin chapter of Reach Out and Read, a nonprofit literacy group that enlists about 20,000 pediatricians nationwide to give out books to low-income families. The group is working with Too Small to Fail, a joint effort between the nonprofit Next Generation and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation that is aimed at closing the word gap.There it was again! Clinton is working on a project designed to give low-income kids a fairer shot at life in a literacy-based society. For our previous post on this topic, just click here.
At the annual Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in Denver on Tuesday, Hillary Rodham Clinton will announce that Scholastic, the children’s book publisher, will donate 500,000 books to Reach Out and Read. Too Small to Fail is also developing materials to distribute to members of the American Academy of Pediatrics to help them emphasize the read-aloud message to parents.
Does this mean that Hillary Clinton cares about low-income kids? We can’t answer that question, but we can tell you this:
In interviews about Clinton’s new book, she isn’t being asked about this initiative, which is designed to help low-income kids get a fairer shot. Instead, journalists are focusing on her “gaffes” about her own personal wealth.
Allegedly, these gaffes help us see that Clinton is out of touch—that she doesn’t care about, or understand, the lives of the middle-class and/or the poor.
The journalists seem very concerned about this. Anthropologically speaking, it’s one of their tribe’s sacred rituals. They flog the gaffes—and ignore the proposals! In our view, anthropology lessons are involved in this uniform cultural preference.
Is Hillary Clinton “out of touch?” We have no idea.
We know that she has sometimes tended to produce “gaffes” in the past. This dates to twin gaffes from early 1992, those involving 1) Tammy Wynette standin’ by her man and 2) Clinton’s decision, as a younger woman, not to stay home and bake cookies.
Anthropologically speaking, the modern tribe known as “the press” employs such alleged gaffes as a sacred part of their rituals. Within this tribe’s holiest rites, such gaffes can be interpreted in one of two different ways:
If the politician in question is favored, the gaffe will often be interpreted as a sign of authenticity and plain-speaking. If the pol in question is disfavored, the gaffe, which may be real or invented, shows that the pol is “out of touch,” perhaps even “inauthentic.”
Those are a few of the most sacred rules of the press corps’ highly exotic religion. In recent weeks, a comical element has been added to these familiar rites.
We refer to the choice of journalistic high priests who have been chosen to sally forth to see if Clinton is “out of touch” due to her personal wealth.
These priests won’t ask about the word gap. The word gap involves the interests of black kids, kids their tribe plainly abhors.
The priests will ask about Clinton’s wealth. Quite dramatically, they will worry about what this personal wealth reveals about Clinton’s personal values. Anthropologically speaking, the priests will worry even harder when Clinton is perceived to have emitted a gaffe in response to their questions.
Like you, we’ve seen this made-for-TV movie many times in the past. In its current manifestation, the ritual started with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, who was shown asking Clinton these questions as part of an edited program:
SAWYER (6/9/14): Tonight, Hillary Clinton's 66 years old.Frankly, Sawyer was very concerned about all that personal wealth.
SAWYER: Lives on a schedule almost as taxing as a campaign tour. She and her husband, thanks to some big spenders, including Wall Street companies, are no longer the couple struggling for money. Reportedly, they can charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for speeches.
It has been reported you've made five million making speeches. The president made more than $100 million.
CLINTON: Well, if you, you have no reason to remember, but we came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt. We had no money when we got there and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea's education, you know, it was not easy. Bill has worked really hard and it's been amazing to me. He's worked very hard, first of all, we had to pay off all our debts, which was, you know, you had to make double the money because of obviously taxes, and then pay you pay off the debts, get us houses, and take care of family members.
SAWYER: But do you think Americans are going to understand five times the median income in this country for one speech?
She didn’t inquire about the lives of low-income black kids. Speaking on behalf of “Americans,” this famous high priestess was concerned about Hillary Clinton’s swag.
Therein lies a rather comical tale. You might call it a comical story inside an enigma, wrapped around an anthropology lesson.
We think the wealth of politicians can be a point of concern too. But then, we think the same about the wealth of “journalists” like Sawyer, whose salary is variously estimated to be anywhere from $12 million to $20 million per year.
Sawyer pockets $12 million per year? Let’s clarify what that means:
In the exchange we highlight above, a person who “earns” five times the median income each week for reading words from a teleprompter is probing the values of a person who earns that same amount for giving a speech.
Go ahead; enjoy a quick mordant laugh! Meanwhile, what kind of person postures that way? Let’s take a look at the record:
Sawyer grew up in a prominent Republican family in Louisville. In 1963, at the age of 17, she was crowned America’s Junior Miss.
After graduating from Wellesley in 1967, Sawyer returned to Louisville and became a TV weather “babe.” Within three years, she was in Washington, serving as a press assistant to President Nixon.
After Nixon’s resignation from office, Sawyer followed him to California, where she helped him write his memoirs. According to the leading authority on her life, “she also helped prepare Nixon for his famous set of television interviews with journalist David Frost in 1977.”
By 1978, Sawyer was back in Washington. By now, her high-profile national “journalism” career was underway.
Can we talk? There’s absolutely nothing of value that you learned from Diane Sawyer. This useless person’s most famous “journalistic” moment occurred in 1990, when she famously asked Marla Maples if sex with Donald Trump was the best sex she’d ever had.
Thanks to Sawyer, we got an important answer from Maples: Yes, it actually was the best sex! The best sex she’d ever had!
Sawyer is in her current position because she’s conventionally good-looking and because she married Mike Nichols, a major cultural figure. In her recent interview with Clinton, she pretended to be concerned about the amount of money Clinton makes for giving a speech—even though she herself is paid the same amount (or more) every week!
Anthropologically speaking, this kind of conduct would be seen as comical from a person in almost any other sector. But by the cultural rules of the press corps, such odd behavior from their own priests can never be discussed.
Question: Have you seen a single person mention the oddness of this exchange, in which an obscenely wealthy TV star worries about the amount of money someone receives for giving a speech? Of course not! By the cultural rules of this very odd tribe, such odd behavior can't even be noticed, let alone discussed!
Meanwhile, over at Slate, the former crown prince of Merrywood was also troubled by all that Clinton loot. Yesterday, his concern reappeared, this time directed at Joe Biden’s worrying wealth.
Anthropologically speaking, the Trobrian Islanders once seemed strange to those who recorded their folkways. In truth, those Islanders of the 1790s had nothing on our own primitive group.
We think you know their folkways! By the cultural rules of our modern press, every adept is going to ask about Clinton’s personal wealth. The adepts will also worry about the meaning of her gaffes.
None of these adepts would be caught dead asking Clinton about the word gap or discussing her work in this area. Anthropologically speaking, such things simply aren’t done.
Anthropologically speaking, members of this primitive tribe care about others just like them. They care about others with even more wealth.
They don’t care about low-income kids. Above all else, they mustn’t ever give a different impression.
Meanwhile, all younger “journalists” know they must advance the values, and even the language, of the tribe’s reigning elders. In the case of Clinton's worrying gaffes, adherence to the tribal script has even been pushed by Chris Hayes!
Anthropologically speaking, Diane Sawyer is an oleaginous, oily old coot. Tomorrow, we’ll see the way the younger priests have scurried to further her values, which seem “inauthentic” to us.
Tomorrow: The development of the younger priests! Just eight short years outta Yale