Maureen Dowd and our post-journalistic culture: Maureen Dowd can’t figure out why anyone would pay Chelsea Clinton all that filthy money.
But first, a bit of background:
Way back on July 1, we noted a peculiar fact. The Washington Post was waging a jihad concerning Hillary Clinton’s deeply troubling speaking fees. At the same time, the New York Times had barely mentioned the topic.
Last Thursday, we thought we noted a policy change at the nation’s greatest newspaper. For whatever reason, the Times had decided to use Chelsea Clinton’s speaking fees as a way to get into the chase.
Yesterday, quite predictably, Maureen Dowd finally struck. In the part of her column we’ve posted below, she gives us a look at the journalistic standards which obtain at the Times.
Warning! Dowd’s first question in this passage doesn’t make chronological sense.
But as she continues, Dowd raises a second deeply troubling question. She then does a peculiar thing—she disappears the answer given by the reporter whose work she seems to be citing:
DOWD (7/13/14): With her 1 percenter mother under fire for disingenuously calling herself “dead broke” when she left the White House, why would Chelsea want to open herself up to criticism that she is gobbling whopping paychecks not commensurate with her skills, experience or role in life?Maureen Dowd can’t figure it out! “Why on earth” would someone pay such fees to Chelsea Clinton?
As the 34-year-old tries to wean some of the cronies from the Clinton Foundation—which is, like the Clintons themselves, well-intended, wasteful and disorganized—Chelsea is making speeches that go into foundation coffers. She is commanding, as The Times’s Amy Chozick reported, up to $75,000 per appearance.
Chozick wrote: “Ms. Clinton’s speeches focus on causes like eradicating waterborne diseases. (‘I’m obsessed with diarrhea’ is a favorite line.)”
There’s something unseemly about it, making one wonder: Why on earth is she worth that much money? Why, given her dabbling in management consulting, hedge-funding and coattail-riding, is an hour of her time valued at an amount that most Americans her age don’t make in a year? (Median household income in the United States is $53,046.)
Dowd goes on to offer the most nefarious possible speculation about this disturbing state of affairs. She omits the answer in Chozick’s news report—the news report she was angrily citing.
Below, you see the start of Chozick’s report, with some later amplification. Good lord! Chozick’s answer to Dowd’s question started in paragraph 2!
CHOZICK (7/10/14): There is a new Clinton paid to deliver speeches—Chelsea, the former first daughter—and she is commanding as much as $75,000 per appearance.The Jewish Federation paid Chelsea Clinton $75,000 (or less) to appear. The event raised more than $2.1 million. “There is great synergy between federation’s work and Chelsea Clinton’s message,” the Jewish Federation’s president and chief executive was quoted saying.
Aides emphasized that while Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton often address trade groups and Wall Street bankers, Ms. Clinton, now 34, focuses on organizations whose goals are in line with the work of the family’s philanthropic organization, the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Organizers said her star power helped sell tickets and raise money.
The Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County hired Ms. Clinton to speak at its inaugural event in March. Tickets started at $1,000 per family, and the event raised more than $2.1 million.
Let’s see—75 grand (or less) versus 2.1 million! Would you have made that deal? As she continued, Chozick cited a second event at which Chelsea Clinton spoke:
CHOZICK: Last year, she addressed 950 people at a benefit for Girls Incorporated of Omaha, a nonprofit group in Nebraska supported by Susie Buffett, the daughter of the billionaire Warren E. Buffett. Previous speakers for the benefit included both of Ms. Clinton’s parents; President Obama; and Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu of South Africa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work fighting apartheid.According to Wilhelm, the event was packed—and people came to see Chelsea Clinton! Dowd disappeared this part of Chozick’s report as she pretended to puzzle about her deeply troubling question:
Roberta Wilhelm, executive director of Girls Incorporated, declined to say if Ms. Clinton was paid, commenting only that the event “was packed, and she was a draw.”
“Why on earth” would anyone pay her that much money?
Dowd pretended to be disturbed about that troubling question. The Times, which pretends to be a newspaper, let her cite Chozick’s report without acknowledging several of the most basic facts it contained.
Are there possible conflicts of interest when people are paid large speaking fees? Yes, there certainly are!
That said, in the case of the horrible Dowd, we don’t have to speculate about possible future misconduct. On a journalistic basis, her misconduct was there for all to see in Sunday’s predictable column.
Dowd’s misconduct was one click away from her predictable column. Her misconduct was sitting right there in the basic facts she disappeared from Chozick’s text.
That said, Dowd has been a journalistic nightmare for decades now. But alas! By the rules of the play-for-pay game, no one is going to say that!
Is there a possible problem when Chelsea Clinton is paid that much scratch? When Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton get larger speaking fees?
Potentially, yes, there is! That said, here’s the more immediate problem:
Grimy attack dogs like Dowd are going to misstate, overstate, omit and obscure as they endlessly flog this deeply troubling possible problem. Their own journalistic misconduct is going to go unremarked.
Dowd’s column is a prime example of a long-standing type of very bad, very dumb, deeply destructive “journalism.” In that sense, it’s very much like Krystal Ball’s recent subhuman commentary, which came at you “from the left.”
Ball and Dowd are horrible people, but no one is going to tell you that. For the next several days, we plan to discuss the obvious problems with Dowd’s latest effort.
We’re going to tell you where it leads—where this swill has led in the past. Your favorite “liberal” TV stars aren’t going to do that.
Ironically, here's the reason for their silence: they have big bucks at stake! They’re being paid the big bucks too, and they’ve already gone for the scam.
Tomorrow: Let’s list the omissions!
All next week: The Mansions of Journalist County