The concept of front-page news: Our public culture is very dumb—deeply unintelligent.
Consider a front-page “news report” from this morning’s New York Times.
Katharine “Kit” Seelye is back on the beat, this time reporting on Santorum. Her report appears above the fold on the front-page of our hard-copy paper.
This is the way it begins. Note the points of focus:
SEELYE (3/15/12): Fortunes Turn, as Does Style, for SantorumThat is the start of an above-the-fold, front-page news report. According to Seelye, we are supposed to be surprised or struck by these three observations:
SAN JUAN, P.R.—The pickup truck that carried him through Iowa is long gone, replaced by a small motorcade of S.U.V.’s. There was a police escort, and a phalanx of Secret Service agents.
The sweater vest was gone, at least for the day, and Rick Santorum, the winner of the last two presidential primaries, was smartly turned out, in a dark suit and power tie, when he held a half-hour private meeting with Gov. Luis G. Fortuño of Puerto Rico.
The two men did not take questions from reporters, but allowed photographers to capture the moment. With the cameras whirring, and sitting side by side in formal chairs, the two could have been in the Oval Office.
Yesterday’s points of surprise:In this country of old and dying elites, those points represent the New York Times’ idea of political news. They highlight Seelye’s report about Santorum’s alleged change in “style”—a report which appears on the Times front page, above the fold.
Santorum didn’t wear a sweater—in San Juan, Puerto Rico!
When he met with the governor, he wore a suit and tie.
He didn’t take a pick-up truck to the governor’s residence.
Seelye played the fool—and the assasin—all through Campaign 2000. In a more serious nation, she would be famous for her misconduct.
This morning, she is back on the beat, displaying the fatuous soul of our most famous newspaper. But then, go ahead! Just check it out:
The Times is crammed with non-news today about the Republican candidates.
Concerning that missing sweater vest: Yesterday’s mid-day high in San Juan: 86 degrees!
Sampling a mentor: This morning, Ashley Parker reports the non-news about Candidate Romney. Here’s the way she starts:
PARKER (3/15/12): A day after losing Mississippi and Alabama to Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney took his campaign to a state where he had no public schedule, no time carved out to mingle with voters, and no rallies or town halls.Wow! Now that was stylistically clever! But then again, so was this famous catty opening, written by Maureen Dowd when she was still a reporter:
DOWD (6/9/94):President Clinton returned today for a sentimental journey to the university where he didn't inhale, didn't get drafted and didn't get a degree.Wonderful snark! That appeared atop the Times front page as the paper snarked against Clinton. They kept it up for the next six years. George Bush went to the White House.
For five years, Parker was Lady Dowd’s “research assistant,” whatever that could mean.