The ages at which they crashed and burned!


Young journos flew close to the sun: Big Republican leaders don’t agree with Obama about the budget because they don’t know what he's proposing!

Only a crackpot would say such a thing. Or an ambitious young journalist?

Why on earth did Ezra Klein write that ridiculous column? We don’t know, and Chait and Krugman aren’t willing to say that he did. But as we pondered this ludicrous work from our latest ambitious young scribe, we checked the ages at which earlier versions of same crashed and burned.

It pretty much started with Janet Cooke, who had to give her Pulitzer back because she’d invented her story. (Along with the resume which got her hired.) But in the past twenty years, we've seen a string of ambitious young journalists break all the rules as they went for the gold.

Does Ezra Klein belong in this class? We don’t have the slightest idea—but can you imagine him going on cable and making the ridiculous claim he made in that long, absurd column?

At any rate, these are the ages at which five other scribes crashed and burned. The potential rewards were great for these young high-fliers. So was their foolish behavior:
The ages at which five famous young journalists crashed and burned:
Janet Cooke, the Washington Post (26)
Ruth Shalit, the New Republic (24)
Stephen Glass, the New Republic (26)
Jayson Blair, the New York Times (27)
Jonah Lehrer, the New Yorker (31)
Lehrer turns out to be the greybeard! We may have left one or two out.

How great are the potential rewards if you can get away with these scams? The leading authority on Lehrer’s life offers this intriguing note: “Lehrer owns the historic Shulman House in Los Angeles, California.”

What the heck is the historic Shulman House? The leading authority on the site tells us this:
WIKIPEDIA: The Shulman House is a mid-century steel home and studio in the Hollywood Hills. In 1947 architectural photographer Julius Shulman asked architect Raphael Soriano to build him a house and studio in the Hollywood Hills. By August 1947 the design was decided upon, and construction began in the early months of 1949. The building took nine months to complete and was occupied in March 1950. Garrett Eckbo designed the landscaping. It has remained unaltered and the Shulman House was designated a Historic-Cultural Monument by the City of Los Angeles in 1987.

The house was sold for $2,250,000 on November 24, 2010 to Jonah Lehrer, who resides there with his wife...
Garrett Eckbo isn’t Gordon Gekko, although the names are close.

The rewards and the temptations are great for these pseudo-brilliant young strivers. You might think of the Shulman manse as The House Young Ambition Bought.

Our favorite sentence about Janet Cooke: The leading authority on Janet Cooke offers a comical fact. It seems especially relevant in this week of our lords:

“Although some within the Post doubted the story's veracity, the Post defended it and assistant managing editor Bob Woodward submitted the story for the Pulitzer Prize.”

Could it be that it takes a bull-shitter to get taken in by same?


  1. I am not sure which appendage you are using, but it seems dipped in acid.

  2. "Could it be that it takes a bull-shitter to get taken in by same?"

    Pretty rich coming from the President-for-Life of the Susan Rice Defense League.

    1. Perhaps you should have followed the link instead of flogging your dead Algerian could- have-been-turning-point.

      My favorite in the Wiki portrayal of Cooke is not the ludicrous quote from Woodward, which is more telling than Somerby's extract. It is this:

      "In 1996, Cooke gave an interview about the "Jimmy's World" episode to GQ reporter Mike Sager, her former boyfriend and Washington Post colleague.[5] Cooke and Sager sold the film rights to the story to Tri-Star Pictures for $1.6 million, but the project never moved past the script stage.[6][7]"

    2. I didn't think the Susan Rice stuff was crazy, but I did think TDH went great lengths to deflect much deserved criticism away from Rice.

      What is the point of a post that compares Ezra Klein to 5 high profile frauds? Does Klein make up stories? I know of one blogger who would refer to this post as bat-shit crazy.

    3. "What is the point of a post that compares Ezra Klein to 5 high profile frauds?"

      Beats me. Klein wrote a column Somerby disagrees with, Klein has since changed his mind about it, and now he's Cooke/Blair/Lehrer/Shalit/Glass all rolled up in one.

    4. Sucks up to McArdle and now Bob's on NPR within the week!

    5. 12:21, were you among the few who suggested that perhaps it's not the wisest move for the U.N. ambassador to go on national TV if she doesn't really know what she is talking about?

      How unreasonable of you!

  3. How can a 31 year-old writer afford a $2.25 M house? Man, people sell out early these days...

    1. Oh, I don't know. Maybe he was born rich and/or married a wife who was born rich and/or married a wife who has a highly successful career of her own.

      Nope, that doesn't fit the TDH narrative, so it can't be true.

    2. Not according to Wikipedia, but they could be wrong.

    3. Wikipedia only says that Lehrer is the son of a civil rights lawyer and a software developer, and that his wife worked as a journalist. It says nothing about the wealth of either family.

      I also think that the crime for which Lehrer stands accused, if not convicted, is plagiarism, not "selling out."

    4. Maybe, but I doubt it. You've got to have serious scratch to buy a house like that.

    5. Not necessarily. All you have to do is come up with whatever down payment the bank or mortgage company requires. And that might not be too hard for a guy with a best-seller that would no doubt earn him healthy advances on future royalties.

  4. Why isn't Mike Barnicle, who resigned from the Boston Globe in 95 over plagiarism and other charges, your graybeard? Because he was resurrected on "Morning Joe"?

    I forget the lady at the Globe who was fired just before him over similar charges. The talk back then was, "Well, we fired a black woman, now there's pressure to fire an old white guy." For Barnicle, lifting irresistible tidbits from other writer had been SOP for years, so he was ready to be caught.

    Oh, one thing I recall about Janet Cooke: Superb writer. Should have become a novelist.

    1. There was also some fairly prominent young conservative columnist whose some years back who got busted for plagiarizing the "The Price They Paid" column about the fates of some of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence.

      What was hilarious about that guy's stupidity is "The Price They Paid" is perhaps the single-most plagiarized piece of dreck in journalism history when the guy chose to steal it AGAIN.

      As well as the most inaccurate.

  5. Jeeves, Bob is focusing on young mandarins here, not all instances of journalistic plagiarism.

    1. Great. Then you can explain what Blair and Cooke have to do with Somerby's "focus" on young mandarins, which has seem to have landed upon Ezra Klein.

      As far as I can tell so far, Somerby is upset that Klein expressed an opinion -- that he later walked back after further discussion and reflection -- that Somerby didn't like, and that somehow puts him in the company of Blair and Cooke who fabricated stories, as well as Lehrer, Shalit and Glass who plagiarized the work of others,

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