Meredith Vieira edition: Do you believe the recent claim by Daisy Hernandez, who is now 39?
In a new book excerpted at Salon, Hernandez tells a story about the way she got her first big job as a writer. The story goes something like this:
Back in 2001, Hernandez completed a master’s in journalism at NYU. She was already working as a writer for Ms. magazine.
That spring, Hernandez was approached to do background research for a book by the New York Times’ Gail Collins. Before long, Collins suggested that she apply for a paid intern job with the Times editorial department.
Hernandez takes the story from there. Do you believe this claim?
HERNANDEZ: [J]ust like that I send my resume…to the editor at the Times hiring interns, even though I have no idea what an editorial is. That’s right. I am twenty-five, I am writing for a national magazine, I have been in journalism school, and I do not know what an editorial is.Do you believe that claim? Do you believe that Daisy Hernandez, age 25, with a master’s degree in journalism, didn’t know what an editorial was?
I want to say that it’s never come up, that no one has ever talked to me about editorials. But they probably did, and I didn’t know what it was, and as I’ve been doing since I was in kindergarten, I probably acted like I knew what they were talking about and promptly forgot it.
More and more, it seems to us that we encounter weirdly implausible claims by ranking figures within the national discourse. A few weeks ago, we wrote about a set of implausible claims made by Meredith Vieira, a major figure in TV “journalism” over the past three decades.
Some of her claims seemed blatantly false. But at least they followed a standard format, in which wealthy broadcasters invent silly tales to make us think they’re actually “just like us.”
The late Tim Russert virtually invented this art form. In fairness, Russert’s claims about his Buffalo boyhood always seemed to be true. The deception involved all the other facts, the various facts he left out.
Vieira’s tales were issued in conjunction with the debut of her new TV show. On the first day of the show, she made a highly implausible claim.
Rather, her 21-year-old daughter did.
Vieira was taken by surprise (wink, wink) when her producers played an embarrassing tape her family had prepared. The tape was designed to let us know what Vieira is really like.
As part of the tape, her daughter told a story we’d have to call highly implausible. To watch the three-minute tape, click here.
Do you believe this claim?
VIEIRA’S HUSBAND (9/8/14): Meredith cries at anything.Do you believe the highlighted story? The studio audience did!
VIEIRA’S SON: I can come down into the living room at any moment and she’ll be crying.
VIEIRA’S DAUGHTER: I found her crying in front of the TV. And she told me that she had just watched a horribly sad commercial for a mop where a family discarded their old mop in order to take in a new mop. And the old mop is standing outside the door of the house? And they closed the door. And that’s when she said she really—she lost it.
Did Vieira’s daughter actually find her crying because of a mop in a TV ad? Here’s a second question:
Does it trouble you when major figures in TV news tell us highly implausible stories? Do you think this sort of thing should be a point of concern?
Tomorrow: Lawrence O’Donnell’s youth
The broadcaster who cried wolf: A few weeks ago, Vieira told a story from her early adult years. She described the way she’d been subjected to domestic violence.
Many people are subjected to domestic violence, of course. That said, we’d seen the story about the mop and the stories about the humble way Vieira lives. It occurred to us that her latest story sounded rather generic.
Final point, from the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction department:
According to the world’s leading authority, “Vieira received the P.T. Barnum Award from Tufts University for her exceptional work in the field of media and entertainment.”
She won the P. T. Barnum Award! At least within the national press, there’s an award-winner born every minute!
(Full disclosure: Our own grandfather Rufus worked for the late, great Barnum.)