Languid Times foppist churns snark: Over at The Atlantic, Peter Beinart is obeying the rules of mainstream press corps press criticism.
Beinart makes the statement shown below concerning the coverage of Candidate Sanders. To us, his claim seems slightly strange—and he provides no examples:
“Media coverage of Sanders has been fawning, partly because many journalists harbor sympathy for his anti-corporate message but mostly because they’re desperate for a contested primary.”
Has media coverage of Candidate Sanders been fawning? That wouldn’t have occurred to us, and Beinart provides no examples to show us what he means.
In this way, he obeys his guild’s relentless code of silence. Dearest darlings! No names are allowed! The word “fawning” isn't polite!
For ourselves, we wouldn’t say the coverage was fawning on the front page of Saturday’s New York Times. Live and direct from Philips Exeter, Yale and London, the wondrously self-involved Sarah Lyall was languorously rolling her eyes at the early and silly youthful young pre-candidate.
Lyall seems like a real piece of work. Headline included, her profile of Sanders started like this:
LYALL (7/4/15): Bernie Sanders’s Revolutionary Roots Were Nurtured in ’60s VermontDid Bernie Sanders “go to Vermont in the late 1960s to help plan the upending of the old social order?”
When he came to Vermont in the late 1960s to help plan the upending of the old social order, the future presidential candidate Bernie Sanders brought with him the belief that the United States was starkly divided into two groups: the establishment and the revolutionaries. He was a revolutionary.
Lyall seems to make that claim in her opening sentence—and she already seems to be snarking. It’s a version of the “Creeping Dowdism” which was established, decades ago, as the standard way this terrible newspaper wends its highly privileged way through its strikingly low-IQ life.
Lyall, now maybe 52, seems like a real piece of work. She and her husband, Robert McCrum, seem to have spent an inordinate amount of their professional time talking about themselves in an array of forums.
Check Lyall’s strange Wikipedia page for a sense of the foolishness here. Or read this fawning spread by Susannah Butter, who tells us that the marginal Lyall and her husband “are one of the more recognisable social couples on the London literary scene, she with her blonde hair and American warmth and he with his literary gravitas.”
Let us guess that Lady Lyall never went to Vermont, or anywhere else, intent on upending, reforming, ameliorating or improving any established social order of any discernible kind. Perhaps for that reason, it seems to have jumped into her small head that Sanders went to Vermont, long ago, “intent” on the “upending” she seems to have garnished with snark.
Is that why Sanders went to Vermont? In her front-page profile of Sanders, Lyall makes no apparent attempt to establish the truth of that assertion. Indeed, it’s striking to list the various things you still don’t know about the Sanders of the era in question after reading her weak imitation of the journalist’s art:
When did Sanders move to Vermont?
How old was he at the time?
Why has he said he moved to Vermont?
What had he done in the years before that? Had he gone to college? If so, where?
On its front page, the Times included a photo of Sanders with a young child, a photo which carried this caption:
“Bernie Sanders held his son during a meeting in 1971 with colleagues from The Vermont Freeman in Burlington, Vt.”
Was Sanders married? To whom? How many kids did he have?
Despite the presence of the photo, you don’t learn those sorts of things in Lyall’s profile either. Basic info is basically AWOL in this eye-rolling piece.
Let’s fill in a few of those answers. According to the leading authority on his life, Sanders moved to Vermont in 1968, at age 26 or 27. (He was born in September 1941.)
In an earlier profile of Sanders, Times reporter Mark Leibovich was able to provide some basics concerning the way he got there. Somehow, he also managed to tell a human tale:
LEIBOVICH (1/21/07): Sanders’s parents were Jewish immigrants from Poland. His father, Eli, a struggling paint salesman who saw his family wiped out in the Holocaust, worried constantly about supporting his wife and two sons. His mother, Dorothy, dreamed of living in a “private home,” but they never made it beyond their three-and-a-half-room apartment on East 26th and Kings Highway. She died at age 46, when Bernie was 19. “Sensitivity to class was imbedded in me then quite deeply,” Sanders told me.According to this profile from Chicago Magazine, “he and his college girlfriend, who became his first wife, bought 85 acres of woodlands in Middlesex, Vermont for $2,500” before moving to the state. Neither profile says that he was intent on upending the old social order, although he may have been.
Sanders spent a year at Brooklyn College before transferring to the University of Chicago, where he studied psychology and helped lead protests against racially segregated housing on campus. He spent time on a kibbutz in Israel after graduation and then moved to Vermont with his first wife. “I had always been captivated by rural life,” he says. As a child, Sanders attended Boy Scout camp upstate and used to cry on the bus as it returned him to New York at the end of the summer.
In the main, Lyall’s profile is devoted to quoting silly-sounding things Sanders wrote in the early 1970s, while marveling at the fact that he didn’t have much money then. Did we note the fact that the writer is straight outta Exeter/Yale?
In fairness, quite a few people were saying somewhat silly things in the era in question. That said, we wouldn’t necessarily put our faith in Lyall’s paraphrasing and transcription of Sanders’ free-lance articles.
She says his pieces numbered like twelve, including the “diatribes.”
Lyall’s talent seems to be her ability to say silly-sounding things even now. For endless YouTube visits with the scribe, you can just click here.
We like Bernie Sanders’ politics a lot. We can also imagine him losing 49 states.
That said, we judge journalists here, not pols. Lyall’s front-page profile strikes us as snarky, unfinished, inept.
It doesn’t seem fawning to us. Think Maureen Dowd in a can, except Lyall isn’t that bright!
The Times is foppish all the way down. The paper brands itself as literary, upper-end, sophistiqué, insightful.
That branding is an endless charade. Concerning the Times, one imperative reigns:
Train yourself not to be fooled.