Dowdism handles pneumonia: Kevin Drum keeps pouring it on as (among other things) an out-of-the-closet mainstream press critic. Our analysts all think the work suits him.
Drumnation! In this post, he mocks the New York Times for outstripping the rest in over-the-top pneumonia coverage. He offers a screen shot of the Times web site with its endless pneumonia news.
Earlier this morning, we were struck by one the pieces captured by Drum's screen shot. We refer to a ghoulish "Reporter's Notebook" piece from the hard-copy front page.
The piece was written by Susan Dominus, who has been at the Times since 2007. (Her career began at Glamour.) Technically, Dominus is a staff writer for the New York Times magazine. Today, for some unexplained reason, her observations made the front page of the hard-copy edition.
What happens when the New York Times goes all in on pneumonia news? We were struck by this early passage concerning Clinton's resilience:
DOMINUS (9/13/16): That hard-won resiliency provides an unavoidable—even poignant—subtext of the widely viewed video that surfaced on Sunday, showing Clinton stumbling as she tried to enter a waiting van following a sudden departure from a Sept. 11 memorial event. A young woman—it is touching that it is a young woman—is holding her under her left arm as they wait for her vehicle to pull up.Why is it "touching" that it was a young woman who was holding Clinton up? And what could such an observation have to do with front-page "reporting?"
Did we mention the fact that Dominus came over from Glamour? This morning's front-page piece is a good example of the sillified type of pseudo-journalism about which Katherine Boo warned the world in 1992.
In a lengthy piece for the Washington Monthly, Boo warned about the onrushing journalistic culture she described as "Creeping Dowdism." That's what Dominus gives Times readers as her creepy "Reporter's Notebook" creepily rolls along:
DOMINUS (continuing directly): A young woman—it is touching that it is a young woman—is holding her under her left arm as they wait for her vehicle to pull up. Clinton sways backward before moving forward. She stumbles a little, wobbles from side to side, then stumbles again and again, each time moving a bit more erratically.Clinton was sick; she began feeling faint. In the creepified world of the modern Times, this calls for loving description of every quiver as the nominee's "feet scrape the ground."
The door of the van is just a few feet away. Inside that door is safety, privacy, a quick escape to her daughter's home; no one will be the wiser if she can just get to the car. Surely she can make it that far. She is, for better or for worse, Iron Woman, who stumbles but never falls—until she does. She almost disappears from sight as she plunges, her weight supported by the security team around her. Her feet scrape the ground.
Dominus reads like Norman Mailer describing an Ali knockdown. But that would have been a boxing match. This garbage, on the Times front page, represents a decision to toy with events which are deeply important.
That creepified passage by Dominus is creepy, ridiculous work. It has nothing do with real reporting. It's the fruit of that creeping culture Boo warned about long ago. (Her piece can't be accessed on-line.)
We're glad to see Drum suggesting what we'll directly state. The culture of the New York Times is that of a low-IQ feudal state located deep in the Hamptons.
Increasingly, you can't do political work for the Times if you haven't demonstrated your fatuity. A few reporters still defy this sprawling group identity, but it's very much the overall nature of Times political culture.
Dominus started at Glamour. Is there any way they could ship her back? If there is, is there any way take this guy with her?
DOMINUS (continuing directly): It turned out to be pneumonia, which her team knew as early as Friday. It's her lungs that were impaired, not her brain, as Tom Brokaw originally rushed to suggest on ''Meet the Press''; she should see a neurologist, he said. But instead, it was a problem of breath, a kind of small suffocation.Dr. Brokaw, please report back to South Dakota! Meanwhile, Dominus continues her ghoulish work about that "small suffocation."
After that, Dominus begins to ponder Susan Sontag's musings on "illness as metaphor." It's the kind of porridge the Times provides to make readers think they're smart.
If you've watched this gang perform live on TV, you may know they aren't sharp at all. On balance, they're a low-IQ, inbred ship of fools. This latest example of post-Boo culture was on the paper's front page.