TUESDAY, AUGUST 26, 2014
Looking ahead to the next unbearable race: Hillary Clinton has too much money! Mitt Romney strapped his dog to the roof of his car!
Candidate Gore is the world’s biggest liar! He perspires too much, like Nixon!
It’s official! Next Tuesday, we’ll be starting our award-winning series, “The Houses of Journalist County.” The series represents our reaction to the press corps’ deep concern, expressed in June and July, that the Clintons 1) get paid too much for speeches and 2) own way too many houses, more specifically two.
Back in June, Diane Sawyer kick-started this heartfelt theme—she of the $80 million reported net worth. As the Washington Post turned this theme into the press corps’ latest cartoon, we decided to take a look at the way our big “journalists” live!
In our award-winning series, we’ll explore three or four different themes. We’ll review the wealth of a few journalistic leaders, especially as seen through the lens of their various “cottages.” We’ll also be asking a basic question:
What kind of journalism can we expect from people who live as they do?
For comic relief, we’ll explore the ways these multimillionaires try to convince us the rubes that they’re really just like us. For a recent sample of this art form, see Parade Magazine’s profile of Meredith Vieira, which appeared last Sunday.
“I want people to see the real me,” Vieira says on the hard-copy cover. Inside, and in a few other profiles, we find a few of the most laughable cons we’ve ever seen from a major celebrity journalist.
In our new series, we’ll also discuss an interesting strain of modern journalism. Over perhaps a dozen years, a few daring scribes critiqued the “buckraking” which produces the modern journalist’s wealth.
In our experience, Jacob Weisberg started this discussion in 1986. See his challenging piece for The New Republic, written when he was still just a lowly senior at Yale.
It’s a bit ironic that Weisberg started this thread. We say that because, in the present day, the gentleman seems to be firmly ensconced in The Houses of Journalist County.
We’d have to say it shows in his work, the very pitfall he discussed in the winter of 86. Having said that, we believe The Houses of Journalist County may pull “Jake” out of his rut!
Our current interest in this topic dates to the cartoon the Post began shaping about the Clintons’ vast wealth.
Don’t get us wrong—a candidate’s wealth can certainly be a legitimate point of concern. Nor is Hillary Clinton our idea of the ideal candidate.
That said, we began to worry about journalists’ wealth in the fall of 1999. It happened when Mary McGrory (and quite a few others) made a mockery of the first Gore-Bradley Democratic debate.
For the most part, the debate concerned the two candidates’ health care proposals. But so what? In the Washington Post, McGrory spent the better part of her next two columns mocking Gore’s funny clothes.
A speculation popped into our head. McGrory already had outstanding health care—and she didn’t seem to care if we the lesser folk do.
As the corps has become more rich, it has become more fatuous. We recommend Simon Malloy’s piece about Maureen Dowd’s latest cartoon.
(We’re recommending Salon!)
We aren’t crazy about Hillary Clinton either. But we reject the horrible Sawyer as the arbiter of the nation’s political judgments and choices. In the wake of Sawyer’s purring at Clinton about her deeply troubling wealth, the Washington Post began to construct the press corps’ latest campaign-ready cartoon.
Next week, we’ll start our deathless series on this award-winning topic. Starting tomorrow, we’ll briefly return to Rick Perlstein’s cartoon of Richard Nixon in Nixonland’s Chapter Two.
(For our previous post on the subject, just click here.)
The culture of cartooning has started to drive the coverage of our White House campaigns. Next week, we’ll examine the wealth which makes our “journalists” want to waste their time composing these stupid cartoons.
In the meantime, two books about Nixon help us see the way this kind of cartooning looks. A modern nation can’t run on cartoons.
Nor should its citizens want to.
A note about Nixonland: Perlstein’s book examines deeply important historical themes—themes which help define our politics right through the present day.
Nixonland explores extremely important themes, but it also includes a bizarre cartoon. It amazes us that Perlstein wanted to draw it.
We think the culture of such cartooning is toxic. Tomorrow, we’ll see how it looks.