Let the charade begin: With Hillary Clinton’s official announcement, the official charade began.
For the next nineteen months, the national press corps will pretend to report and analyze the 2016 White House campaign. All this week, we’ll discuss basic aspects of this quadrennial festival of faux.
Yesterday’s columns by Bruni and Dowd gave the charade its ceremonial start. For today, though, as we make our way back to our sprawling campus, let’s limit ourselves to a brief discussion of the way Jeb Bush is allegedly being covered.
Last Friday night, Brooke Gladstone interviewed New York magazine’s Jaime Fuller on the long-running NPR program, On the Media.
Gladstone is an upper-end press-watcher. On her NPR program, Gladstone and her various guests discuss the way the press corps conducts its business. This gives NPR listeners the sense that very bright people are keeping an eye on the conduct of this guild.
Last Friday, Gladstone started with the kind of framework which says “smart” to such listeners. Fuller took it from there, making a claim which struck us as somewhat odd:
GLADSTONE (4/17/15): As candidates emerge fresh and sleek from their campaign caves, the naming has already begun. It’s an ancient tradition, dating back as least as far as Homer. And our heroes may contain multitudes, but we make do with shorthand:To hear the whole segment, click here.
Achilles the lion-hearted, Athena the tireless one, man-slaughtering Hector. Or, more appropriate to the current moment, Thersites of the endless speech.
New York magazine’s Jaime Fuller has been cataloging the epithets journalists are coining to encapsulate our current crop of presidential aspirants. She started by noticing that Jeb Bush has been dubbed an introvert.
FULLER: I’m like, “Hah! This is a kind of strange word to be applying to someone who wants to be president.” I went to Nexis, I typed in “Jeb Bush and introvert.” Lo and behold, there were at least ten instances in the past decade when he’s been called that. And interestingly enough, Jeb Bush was the first one to do it. So we are all doing his bidding when we call him an introvert.
GLADSTONE: [Chuckles] And why do you think that is? Is it because “introvert” suggests sincerity and smarts?
FULLER: I think so...
According to Fuller, there have been “at least ten instances in the past decade” when someone in the press corps has called Jeb Bush an “introvert.” It was Bush who first described himself that way, she said.
We were puzzled by this remark. Given the sweep of the national press, ten such instances in a decade would hardly qualify as a notable trend. But so what? Gladstone was buying! Soon, she was saying this:
GLADSTONE: So “introvert” was picked by Jeb himself and then picked up by the rest of us. What about Rand Paul?Has the corps stampeded off to call Jeb Bush an introvert? Are they doing this because “introvert” suggests sincerity and smarts?
By the end of the week, we’ll show you what we found when we ran that same Nexis search. For today, we’ll refer you to this piece from February, in which Fuller presented six examples of this alleged trend.
Back to our basic point:
With yesterday’s columns by Bruni and Dowd, a 19-month charade has officially started. Starting tomorrow, we’ll be discussing this pseudo-journalistic manifestation all week.
We found Gladstone and Fuller a bit underwhelming. It will take a lot of pushback in the next nineteen months to stop the journalistic disaster which is already underway.
On the brighter side, it’s beginning to seem that New York Times readers have finally seen enough. Yesterday, they were pushing back fairly hard against those sad, silly columns. And at Salon, a bright young kid has complained of the vast dumbness too!
Within the realm of the national press, everybody loves a charade. The familiar clowning will constitute a world without end unless we the people reject it.
Tomorrow: Frank Bruni says he’s “already confused.” Everyone loves a charade!