Debasing encounter debunked: Four years ago, Michael Barbaro wrote the New York Times' front-page profile of Candidate Romney's hairdresser.
You might have thought it couldn't get dumber. Thinking that, you'd have been wrong.
Yesterday, Barbaro was back on the Times' front page. This time, he was in charge of the Candidate Trump "debasing experience" watch.
The Times had chronicled Candidate Trump's long history of demeaning behavior toward women. They opened their report with the incident detailed below, their apparent top example.
That opening sentence is a bit slick. Be very, very careful:
BARBARO (5/15/16): Donald J. Trump had barely met Rowanne Brewer Lane when he asked her to change out of her clothes.That's the way the shocking account began. Warning:
"Donald was having a pool party at Mar-a-Lago. There were about 50 models and 30 men. There were girls in the pools, splashing around. For some reason Donald seemed a little smitten with me. He just started talking to me and nobody else.
"He suddenly took me by the hand, and he started to show me around the mansion. He asked me if I had a swimsuit with me. I said no. I hadn't intended to swim. He took me into a room and opened drawers and asked me to put on a swimsuit."
—Rowanne Brewer Lane, former companion
Ms. Brewer Lane, at the time a 26-year-old model, did as Mr. Trump asked. ''I went into the bathroom and tried one on,'' she recalled. It was a bikini. ''I came out, and he said, 'Wow.' ''
Mr. Trump, then 44 and in the midst of his first divorce, decided to show her off to the crowd at Mar-a-Lago, his estate in Palm Beach, Fla.
''He brought me out to the pool and said, 'That is a stunning Trump girl, isn't it?' '' Ms. Brewer Lane said.
You'll note that Brewer Lane (Trump's "former companion") hasn't been quoted saying she found any of this inappropriate.
You'll also note that Barbaro's opening sentence is exciting but perhaps slippery and slick. Did you think Trump asked Brewer Lane to "slip out of her clothes" while he lasciviously stood there and watched?
That's the impression you were fed. It seems that isn't what happened.
This is very typical stuff at our most pitiful pseudo-newspaper. Having said that, please note this important point again:
At this point, Brewer Lane hasn't said that she found this event problematic. Luckily, Barbaro was willing to do that for her! As he continued, he was soon opining as shown below:
BARBARO (continuing directly): Donald Trump and women: The words evoke a familiar cascade of casual insults, hurled from the safe distance of a Twitter account, a radio show or a campaign podium. This is the public treatment of some women by Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president: degrading, impersonal, performed. ''That must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees,'' he told a female contestant on ''The Celebrity Apprentice.'' Rosie O'Donnell, he said, had a ''fat, ugly face.'' A lawyer who needed to pump milk for a newborn? ''Disgusting,'' he said.Brewer Lane wasn't quoted saying that she found this incident "debasing." But so what? The New York Times went ahead and said it for her!
But the 1990 episode at Mar-a-Lago that Ms. Brewer Lane described was different: a debasing face-to-face encounter between Mr. Trump and a young woman he hardly knew. This is the private treatment of some women by Mr. Trump, the up-close and more intimate encounters.
(What would Brewer Lane know, after all? She was just "a young woman"—even worse, a model!)
As you may know, Brewer Lane has now complained about the way the Times presented this incident. She has said that the New York Times "did take quotes from what I said, and they put a negative connotation on it. They spun it to where it appeared negative."
"I did not have a negative experience with Donald Trump," Brewer Lane has further said, "and I don't appreciate them making it look like that I was saying that it was a negative experience because it was not."
According to Brewer Lane, she doesn't feel that she had a "debasing encounter" with Donald J. Trump. But then, if you read Barbaro's whole stupid piece, you might have guessed as much.
If you read the rest of the piece, you would eventually have seen the passage shown below. Be careful—be very careful—about that slippery quotation:
BARBARO: For Ms. Brewer Lane, her introduction to Mr. Trump at Mar-a-Lago was the start of a whirlwind romance—a heady blur of helicopter rides and high-end hotel rooms and flashing cameras.Say what? Brewer Lane's "debasing encounter" led to "a whirlwind romance?" Only at this most ridiculous paper would an incident of this type be used as the opening incident in a lengthy, Sunday front-page profile of such an exciting type.
''It was intimidating,'' she said. ''He was Donald Trump, obviously.''
The lunatic judgment displayed by the Times has now become the silly newspaper's latest gift to Trump. But what about that final quotation? Didn't Brewer Lane say that she found her "debasing encounter" to be "intimidating?"
Actually, no—she didn't. Assuming she was quoted accurately, she does seem to have said that she found something intimidating. But as you can plainly see, that passage doesn't say what it was.
She may have said she found it "intimidating" to date a celebrity like Donald J. Trump. There's no way to tell what she meant from that passage—from this latest piece of crap from this ridiculous "newspaper."
Trump will be milking this gift for days. Truly, the silly people at this silly newspaper are among the nation's slowest and dumbest. And by the way, one final point:
Why was Brewer Lane described as Trump's former "companion?" Really? You don't know the answer to that?
Barbaro's name appears on the piece. Who could the editor be?
Just this once: Just this once, we'll let you ask us about our own experiences in this general area.
In 1999 and 2000, we were among quite a few old college friends who were interviewed about the college-aged version of Candidate Gore, who was wooden and stiff, didn't know who he was, had hired a woman to teach him to be a man and had a very bad problem with the truth.
This type of experience was common. A single statement would be mined from an hour-long discussion. It would then be quoted in a context which turned its meaning upside down.
Yes, this is the way they play. No one cared when Candidate Gore kept getting slimed, but Candidate Trump will be riding this gift for quite a few days to come.
How long can our culture keep working this way? We the humans are trapped inside a deeply debasing culture.