"Narcissistic," she says: Bowing to international pressure, Jill Abramson has decided play on our team.
Abramson was executive editor of the New York Times in a three-year stint which ended in 2014. As Lloyd Grove reports at The Daily Beast, she has come down hard on the Times' recent conduct—and on its "narcissism."
In a recent tweet, Abramson scalded the Times for failing to cover the recent (winning) House campaign of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She expanded on her views in an email to Grove. In part, the email said this:
ABRAMSON: I’m feeling about the NYT now like I did when my son cheated on a test in 10th grade. I loved him to death, believed he was a thoroughly wonderful young man, but he needed a course correction. So I left my desk at The NYT, where I was DC [Bureau] Chief, met his school bus and read him the riot act. He needed a course correction.Oof. According to Abramson, the Times is like a 15-year-old who has lost his way!
So does the NYT...it’s making horrible mistakes left and right.
What "horrible mistakes" by the Times does Abramson have in mind? As the email continued, she listed three:
ABRAMSON: Not covering the "stunning" upset of Joe Crowley. It’s the NYT that was undeservedly stunned, letting down its readers.We'd say this Monday's editorial was much worse than these offenses. That said, here's a few reactions:
That horrible 3,000-word exposé on Ali Watkins [the Times reporter who’s caught up in a leak investigation involving her ex-boyfriend] that aired her sex life and conflicts...
[N]ew TV show plan to focus on personal feelings and experiences of NYT journalists covering news.
More narcissism: It’s always about us. Yikes.
The campaign: Should the Times have been aware of the (winning) Ocasio-Cortez campaign?
Dearest darlings! Use your heads! That campaign took place in Queens!
The TV show: We haven't watched the Showtime series, The Fourth Estate, which is all about the Times. (Neither has Abramson.)
It's our impression that the Times, like several other orgs, has been trying to counter the anti-press hatred pimped by Donald J. Trump. We'd watch the show if we had Showtime, but a charge is involved, so we don't.
The romance: We've just read the Times' 3400-word front-page report about Ali Watkins' romance. In her email, Abramson said the profile “read like a steamy romance novel in parts."
No kidding! What else is new?
We find the Watkins subject matter tedious, but the New York Times, like other orgs, loves this sort of thing. We had to laugh when we read this early passage from the Times report:
GRYNBAUM, SHANE AND FLITTER (6/25/18): Strikingly, the case against [Watkins' former boyfriend] brings together several of President Trump’s preoccupations: leaks, which he has railed about since taking office; Washington’s permanent bureaucracy, which he derides as the “deep state”; the news media, Mr. Trump’s favorite target; and the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia.Does the case bring together several of Trump’s preoccupations? Look who's talking! It also involves the modern press corps' principal preoccupation:
Who the heck is zoomin' who? And how many times has it happened?
Back to the narcissism! Grove quotes one more part of Abramson's email. In it, she describes her recent work at a selective college:
ABRAMSON: From four years of teaching at Harvard, so many of my students are interested in journalism, but they mostly want to write first-person, highly personal narratives about themselves. That may reflect their age. But I think there’s too much of that in journalism. It’s not about us. It’s about the world, and covering the world.These kids today! On the other hand:
More and more, self-involvement bordering on narcissism has become a basic part of the modern news business. This is especially true on cable news, where self-involvement and personalization rather plainly seem to be part of the ratings game.
Rather plainly, gullible viewers are encouraged to think that the cable hosts are their friends. In this recent New York Times essay, Kat Stoeffel, and some early commenters, seem to be telling us that this project is working.
One last note about Watkins and the steamy romance. Warning! Prepare to have your lizard say that you should deny basic corporate reality, especially if it involves your imaginary cable news friends:
The Times report involves a romance between a very young female reporter and a man in his mid-50s who worked in a high position in the field the reporter was covering. We'll only mention this:
Cable news sometimes seems to swim in unusually young female journalists. Some of these folk seem to be very sharp. Some of these folk do not.
We'll take two guesses:
First, cable news likes to sell the visuals of young female flesh. Also, news orgs of all stripes may have learned that Washington's old coots, most of whom are old coot men, are more likely to take and return phone calls if they come from conventionally attractive young women.
Cable news occasionally seems to be awash in unusually young women. There doesn't seem to be a similar roster of unusually young men.
That said, cable news is a branch of corporate entertainment, and our corporate orgs have many horrible flaws. When Trump voters make this claim, we'd have to say that, just this once, they may even be right!
One last thoughtful suggestion: When people say something which is actually right, they should be told that they're right.
If you extend that one small courtesy—if you behave like a human just once—those same people may listen to you when you tell them they're wrong.