Part 1—New York Times at war: For ourselves, we don’t especially like the smell of total war in the morning.
We found it hard to miss that smell in Saturday’s New York Times. The famous paper was at it again, this time with a 2200-word, front-page report about the venality of You Know Who and her “distasteful” husband.
Deborah Sontag’s front-page “news report” had everything such “journalists” seem to enjoy. It had a former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, whose list of past boyfriends was explored. Beyond that, the luscious model was repeatedly winged for kinky-sounding conduct.
Even better, best by far, the former SI swimsuit model had given big bucks to Bill Clinton!
Actually, the luscious model had made a donation to the Clinton Foundation. According to Sontag’s report, she made the donation with an agreement that the Clinton Foundation and her own substantial charity, The Happy Hearts Fund, would sponsor joint projects in Haiti.
It’s very, very hard to make out the problem with the behavior described in Sontag’s distraction-clogged report. Truth to tell, Sontag doesn’t really try to define the supposed problem.
Instead, she gives a platform to one lone “expert.” Early in her report, the expert offers this appraisal of You Know Who’s bad conduct:
SONTAG (5/30/15): “This is primarily a small but telling example of the way the Clintons operate,” said Doug White, who directs the master’s program in fund-raising management at Columbia University. “The model has responsibility; she paid a high price for a feel-good moment with Bill Clinton. But he was riding the back of this small charity for what? A half-million bucks? I find it—what would be the word?—distasteful.”In this, his only quote, the irate professor refers to Nemcova as “the model.” It isn’t necessarily his fault that Sontag presented his words that way. Perhaps, for Sontag, that belittling description helped drive the desired point.
(For purposes of this discussion, Nemcova is basically a former model. According to Sontag, she has been running her high-profile charity for something approaching ten years.)
Truthfully, Sontag makes no attempt to explain White’s aggressive appraisal. She cites the views of no other named experts at any point in her piece.
It seems clear that Professor White is very, very upset. But why is Professor White upset? Does anyone share his view?
Frankly, we’re never told. In a 2200-word report, no one is asked to evaluate White’s aggressive remarks.
What did the professor mean when he says Clinton was “riding the back of this small charity” in the instance described? Why exactly does he think the transaction involved here was “distasteful”—“a telling example of the way the Clintons operate?”
In 2200 filler-clogged words, Sontag never asks White to explain. A cynic might think she possibly had the quote she wanted—and with it, the latest chance to engage in total war about the Clintons’ greed.
For ourselves, we have no idea what’s supposed to be wrong with the transaction in question. In this transaction, a smaller high-profile charity transferred $500,000 to a larger, higher-profile charity, subject to the agreement that the two entities would use the money for joint projects in Haiti.
In exchange for this transaction, one of the most famous people in the world headlined the smaller entity’s annual fund-raising event.
What is supposed to be wrong about that? In 2200 piddle-filled words, Sontag never seems to feel the need to explain.
Instead, she includes a string of anecdotes which seem designed to embarrass that woman, Miss Nemcova. More significantly, she employs every possible buzzword from the current total war being waged against You Know Who.
To her credit, Sontag is a master at the use of insinuative language. Comically but pathetically, this was her fifth paragraph:
SONTAG: Happy Hearts’ former executive director believes the transaction was a quid pro quo, which rerouted donations intended for a small charity with the concrete mission of rebuilding schools after natural disasters to a large foundation with a broader agenda and a budget 100 times bigger.The transaction was a “quid pro quo,” Sontag clownishly suggests. So is every transaction on earth if you want to use that loaded term, a term which is currently very hot in a certain total war.
At any rate, Bill Clinton engaged in a quid pro quo! The Times had finally found one!
It’s hard to believe that Sontag’s language selection could get any sillier than that. But look at this example of her InsinuSpeak, direct from paragraph 9:
SONTAG: Never publicly disclosed, the episode provides a window into the way the Clinton Foundation relies on the Clintons’ prestige to amass donors large and small, offering the prospect, as described in the foundation’s annual report, of lucrative global connections and participation in a worldwide mission to “unlock human potential” through “the power of creative collaboration.”The episode was “never public disclosed,” Sontag writes, employing another verbal weapon from the current war.
In so doing, she suggests that some sort of “disclosure” was somehow avoided. But she gives readers no idea of what she could possibly mean.
How absurd was Sontag willing to be as she lowered her guns on her target? Even we had to marvel at the way she sliced the lunch meat here:
SONTAG: In the charity gala world, it is considered unacceptable to spend more than a third of gross proceeds on costs, and better to spend considerably less. If the donation to the Clinton Foundation were counted as a cost, Happy Hearts would have spent 34 percent of its announced $2.5 million in proceeds on its gala.If the donation counts as a cost, it took Happy Hearts over the top! Thirty-three percent would have been OK. The donation to the Clinton Foundation took them to 34!
(Should the donation count as a cost? We’re not sure! According to Sontag’s report, isn’t Happy Hearts still going to spend the money through those joint ventures with the better-known Clinton Foundation?)
Was something actually wrong with this transaction? Everything is possible, or so we always say.
That said, it’s very hard to see what the problem is supposed to be here. Between her buzz words and her sexualized snark at Nemcova’s expense, Sontag never quite gets around to explaining—and she cites exactly one expert alleging that something was wrong.
We’ve skipped the slipperiest part of Sontag’s report—the way she chose to end it. We’ll start with that journalistic embarrassment tomorrow.
But when we read this lengthy front-page “report” in the New York Times, we thought we detected a familiar old smell. We detected the smell of total war—a total war the Times has been waging for a good many years, or so it frequently seems.
Why is the New York Times waging this war? Most importantly:
Will the public ever be warned about this endless dimwitted war? When will liberals decide to insist that the public be warned>
Tomorrow: Unexplained Haitian protesters!