BREAKING: Chozick addresses Chelsea's hair!

SATURDAY, MAY 12, 2018

The Dowdism crept, then took hold:
In recent weeks, we've done a series of reports about Amy Chozick's horrific but revealing new book. Chasing Hillary.

The book is gruesome, but it provides a fascinating look at the intellectual and moral horizons of the Hamptons-based coven which produces the New York Times. Just consider the last pair of questions Isaac Chotiner posed.

Isaac Chotiner's aim was true when he interviewed Chozick for Slate. He zeroed in on her remarkable portrait of the Times politics editor, Carolyn Ryan, who would leap across her desk in excitement when confronted with "gossip" and "unsubstantiated tidbits" about earth-shattering topics like travel arrangements for Natalie Portman's pet dog.

Despite its total irrelevance, the Yorkie stayed in the news report about the Clinton Foundation! According to Chozick, Ryan actually wanted the Yorkie to be the news report's lede!

The sheer inanity of the New York Times' political coverage comes to life in auch anecdotes. That said, Chozick doesn't seem to see the way these anecdotes may look to sensible observers, of whom, in fairness, there will be very few, whether in the mainstream press or in the book-buying public.

As Chotiner said in his interview. Chozick seemed to think that these anecdotes paint Ryan as some sort of astute observer. "How do you respond to that?" the Slatester fruitlessly asked.

In the last week, we've taken a break from this book's inanity, but we hope to return to its pages. We've only begun to scratch the surface of the portrait this book provides—a portrait of the inanity which has long ruled at the Times.

We hope to return to Chozick's book before too many days have passed. As an example of the types of material it contains, consider the last pair of question Chotiner posed to Chozick.

He closed with a pair of questions about Chelsea Clinton. Unfortunately, his questions, as posed, sounds almost as frivolous as Chozick's remarkable book.

Here's the first question he asked:
CHOTINER (4/27/18): Chelsea Clinton has been tweeting about your book, saying a couple facts are wrong, like that she has never gotten “hair keratin treatment.” You have said the book was fact-checked. Do you know if the fact-checker reached out to Chelsea Clinton in the course of the fact check?
We'll be honest! As presented, this question makes Chotiner seem almost as frivolous as Chozick.

Manifestly, he isn't. But that question makes it sound like Chotiner thinks it actually matters whether Chelsea Clinton got hair keratin treatment or not.

Manifestly, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if she did or if she didn't, except within the Hamptons-based coven which composes the New York Times.

Within that coven, snide observations about people's hair have long been coin of the realm. A few quick examples:

In the last few months of Campaign 2000, Maureen Dowd composed a series of columns in which she focused on Candidate Gore's bald spot. On the Sunday before that disastrous election, her column began with Gore standing before a mirror, singing "I Feel Pretty" to himself as he anxiously spoke with The Spot.

Dowd was widely read in Florida. Four years later, her work was peppered with insightful analyses containing references to Candidate Edwards as, who else, The Breck Girl. In this 2007 revival, The Breck Girl stood opposed to Barack Obama, AKA "the dumb blond."

(Headline: "Obama, Legally Blonde?")

In such ways, the culture of the modern Times was invented. Do you remember the newspaper's front-page profile of Candidate Romney's hair stylist? Sadly, Pepperidge Farm does!

Way back when, in 1992, Katherine Boo warned the nation about this emerging journalistic framework, which she memorably described as "Creeping Dowdism." But alas! As the years passed, the Dowdism crept, then took hold.

Dowd was awarded a Pulitzer prize. Boo left the world of journalism for the world of serious books—for the type of book which wins major awards, but never gets read or discussed.

Dowdism crept and conquered. The sheer inanity of that framework suffuses the first hundred pages of Chozick's book, in which she describes the intellectual frameworks which guided her work at the Wall Street Journal, then at the New York Times, in the course of pretending to cover Hillary Clinton's two White House campaigns.

Her snide remarks about Chelsea Clinton's hair constitute one small part of this depressing portrait. That said, her book is rank with the culture of Snide, and with the delight she seems to take in her own relentless cluelessness about all serious topics and issues.

In his surprisingly acerbic interview with Chozick—this sort of thing just isn't done!—Chotiner refers to the New York Times as "the most important newspaper in the world." He says this as he expresses his surprise at Chozick's portrait of the gossip-seeking Ryan.

Is the Times really the world's most important newspaper? We don't know, but it largely defines journalistic standards Over Here, and Chozick's book is an unintentionally punishing portrait of the inanity now in the catbird seat at the silly-bill and hair-observant Times.

The human mind begs for release from the task of reading this book. But within the next week or so, we're going to try to force ourselves to return to its pages.

Chozick's book reeks of the catty and snide. Chelsea's hair is just one stop along this road to perdition.

This fatuous culture got its start as the Dowdism crept in on little cat's feet. Long ago, the culture took hold. Chozick's deeply ridiculous book takes it to a new level.

Concerning that pair of questions: As noted, Chotiner asked two questions about Chozick's work with Chelsea Clinton's hair. Incredibly, Chozick asked permission to read from her book, seeming to think that a fuller dose of her prose about Chelsea's looks at various points would serve her in good stead.

It didn't. The book's full snide is worse.

19 comments:

  1. Jonny Scrum-halfMay 12, 2018 at 12:04 PM

    Bob sometimes takes issue with filler in the Times and its Style section, but I don't see anything wrong with publishing lighter fare. The real problem, as Bob documents, is when political coverage is treated like celebrity coverage, with little substance and a lot of focus on personalities.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And yet the past election demonstrated that nothing said about the personality of a candidate such as Trump will affect voters choices. Personality only seems to matter for Democrats. Or, given Bernie's odd quirks but obvious success, it only matters for candidates named Clinton?

      Delete
    2. But it's always lighter fare written from the point of view of callow rich people.

      I used to read the NYT features years ago, especially entertainment and the arts. They were good.

      Then they all of a sudden started being about rich people. Or, via expensive and/or exclusive recreations. Almost entirely.

      Know when that began to happen? At almost the exact same time they began accepting paid wedding announcements.

      Delete
    3. This isn't rocket science. The economics of running a paper changed with access to news on the internet. Lots of journalists lost their jobs. In order to charge more for advertising, the NY Times has to present itself as attracting rich consumers. Advertising is how they pay for the paper. It is also why the Times hires young inexperienced writers -- they are cheaper. Somerby should know all this. The NY Times cannot afford to be the paper he wants it to be.

      Delete
    4. "The real problem, as Bob documents, is when political coverage is treated like celebrity coverage, with little substance and a lot of focus on personalities."

      Low-hanging fruit.

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  2. "We'll be honest! As presented, this question makes Chotiner seem almost as frivolous as Chozick.

    Manifestly, he isn't. But that question makes it sound like Chotiner thinks it actually matters whether Chelsea Clinton got hair keratin treatment or not."

    The reason Chotiner asked Chozick about Chelsea Clinton's hair is because Clinton herself disputed the factual accuracy of that part of the book. That provided Chotiner with an example of a mistake and allowed him to ask about fact-checking in general.

    Without such an example in which Clinton herself disputed Chozick's statements, Chotiner is left with the kind of exchange where he says mistakes were made and Chozick says "like what?" and he then must come up with an example.

    It would be better if he came up with a less trivial example, but if there are mistakes in small things presumably there can be mistakes in larger things too.

    There were large factual mistakes in a lot of what Chozick wrote about Clinton during the campaign. You can impeach someone just as easily by easing into the topic via a smaller inaccuracy.

    If this book is so snide, why on earth is Somerby reading it? Every time he mentions it, he helps Chozick sell copies. Does Somerby enjoy the way Chozick trashes Hillary and her family?

    "The human mind begs for release from the task of reading this book. But within the next week or so, we're going to try to force ourselves to return to its pages."

    Why? No one is clamoring for him to do this. This serves no useful purpose.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Journalists aren't important figures in politics. But Somerby treats them like they are. He would rather read a book by a journalist than read Hillary Clinton's own analysis of why she lost the election, which draws upon expert knowledge and inside information to discuss the impact of Russian manipulation and other factors Somerby seems to be oblivious too, or not to care about. Beside Clinton's book, Chozick's is small potatoes. Why does Somerby waste everyone's time this way? Perhaps he wants us to go chasing the trivia and ignore the major malfeasance committed by this president.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, you're right. Almost no one ever watches TV or reads the newspaper. It has little effect on elections.

      Delete
    2. It wasn't the major factor in this last one. Despite the imbalance in reporting, Clinton was winning until Comey made his statement.

      Delete
    3. What journalists do is important but they personally are not. They are taught that they are not the subject in their own stories. Somerby's focus on Chozick is inappropriate, as is her book.

      Delete
    4. "Hillary Clinton's own analysis of why she lost the election". The one that doesn't mention NAFTA??

      Delete
    5. 7:26,
      Yes, that one.
      If it wasn't for NAFTA, those that thought Clinton was running a pedophile ring out of a DC pizza parlor basement, totally would have voted for her.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
  5. Just Another Block-Quoting BlockheadMay 12, 2018 at 9:56 PM

    Here's a depressing portrait - Happy Mother's Day from the White House (via NPR interview with Trump's Chief of Staff):

    NPR: Are you in favor of this new move announced by the attorney general early this week that if you cross the border illegally even if you're a mother with your children [we're going] to arrest you? We're going to prosecute you, we're going to send your kids to a juvenile shelter?

    White House: The name of the game to a large degree. Let me step back and tell you that the vast majority of the people that move illegally into United States are not bad people. They're not criminals. They're not MS-13. Some of them are not. But they're also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society. They're overwhelmingly rural people in the countries they come from – fourth, fifth, sixth grade educations are kind of the norm. They don't speak English, obviously that's a big thing. They don't speak English. They don't integrate well, they don't have skills. They're not bad people. They're coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws. But a big name of the game is deterrence.

    NPR: Family separation stands as a pretty tough deterrent.

    White House: It could be a tough deterrent — would be a tough deterrent. A much faster turnaround on asylum seekers.

    NPR: Even though people say that's cruel and heartless to take a mother away from her children?

    White House: I wouldn't put it quite that way. The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.

    ReplyDelete
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