Jeb Bush’s sense of humor: Given our broken press corps culture, how do our biggest, smartest newspapers cover our White House campaigns?
Consider the latest important report which appeared in the New York Times.
The important report appeared in Saturday’s hard-copy editions. It was written by Matt Flegenheimer, who’s four years out of college (Penn).
Flegenheimer’s important report appeared beneath this hard-copy headline: “Bush Camp Suggests (Very) Secret Weapon: Its Candidate Is Funny.” The report was accompanied by a large photograph of Candidate Bush striking a comical pose.
(On line, a caption says that the photograph shows Bush “performing a faux striptease.” Good solid enjoyable fun!)
Flegenheimer’s important report ran almost 1200 words. It started off like this:
FLEGENHEIMER (12/26/15): The hints of irreverence can be traced to a private meeting in Coral Gables, Fla., with the soon-to-be presidential candidate and his rapper acquaintance.Flegenheimer’s important report concerned Candidate Bush’s sense of humor on the campaign trail. Our young analysts screamed and wailed as we forced them to read the important report. Several of the youngsters writhed as they read this puzzling passage:
Jeb Bush had grown fond of Pitbull, the Miami performer gone global, who seemed to share his zeal for education policy. But Mr. Bush, a former Florida governor, had a question: Why the stage name? The artist replied that a friend had suggested it years ago while they were en route to a pit-bull fight.
“Well,” Mr. Bush replied at their meeting early this year, “good thing you weren’t on the way to a cockfight.”
As his campaign has struggled to rejuvenate a languishing bid, some close to him have suggested the existence of a (very) secret weapon: It is at least possible that Jeb Bush is funny.
FLEGENHEIMER: As Mr. Bush’s poll numbers have lagged, the bids for laughs have proliferated.“It looks like a boy for some reason?” Why did Flegenheimer treat that remark as a “bid for laughs” at all?
He has tried physical comedy: “Are you doing a photo bomb there?” he asked in Raymond, N.H., striking a hammy pose when someone pointed at a camera. “You’re welcome.”
He has been whimsical with animals: “It’s a girl,” he said on Tuesday in Littleton, N.H., surprised to hear that a voter’s large dog was named Amy. “It looks like a boy for some reason.”
Inquiring minds wanted to know. We didn’t know what to tell them.
In fairness, this utterly pointless important report can’t be blamed on the young scribe who wrote it. Presumably, some editor directed Flegenheimer to examine this utterly pointless topic. In its focus on silly human interest, this latest report captures the way our most famous newspaper covers our White House campaigns.
The reigning culture of the Times was on display in that piece. As we read it, a question popped into our heads.
Last week, the Tax Policy Center presented its analysis of Candidate Trump’s formal budget proposal. We couldn’t help wondering:
Has our nation’s most famous newspaper covered that topic at all?
Trump released his crazy budget proposal on September 28. At that time, did the Times report the analysis of the plan which came from the Tax Foundation, a conservative-leaning org? Has the Times reported last week’s analysis from the Tax Policy Center, a liberal-leaning entity?
All too often, we liberals have a hard time seeing how fatuous Times culture actually is. In various ways, the famous newspaper brands itself as the nation’s smartest newspaper. We consumers may tend to buy the branding. In the process, we tend to accept the implied compliment directed at us, the brilliant, discerning Times readers.
Last Saturday, Times readers suffered through 1200 words about Candidate Bush’s sense of humor. That said, Bush is practically out of the race at this point. Candidate Trump seems to be heading toward nomination.
Our question: How many words has the New York Times spent on Trump’s crazy budget proposal? Tomorrow, we’ll start to answer that question.
On Wednesday, we’ll be back on our sprawling campus, where we intend to finish last week’s award-winning report:
What are Trump voters actually like? Are they a bunch of dumb bigots?
Visit our incomparable archives: Last Wednesday, Christina Bellantoni suggested it’s basically silly to cover the Trump budget plan.
He probably won’t win, she told Lawrence O’Donnell. And if he wins, Congress probably won’t pass his budget plan. So really, why bother?
(Also, Governor Brown is in love with big taxes! For some reason, she threw that claim in.)
To see the way our “mainstream journalists” increasingly reason about such matters, see last Thursday’s post. In our view, Bellantoni’s presentation was surpassingly strange—strange and, alas, revealing.