SPECIAL CAMPAIGN CLOWN CAR REPORT: The New York Times finally cuts to the chase!


Breaks silence on candidate's boots:
As we've noted in recent weeks, Candidate Trump released his formal budget proposal on September 28, 2015.

Since that time, analyses by two respected non-partisan groups have helped establish a basic point. Trump has offered the craziest budget proposal in modern political history.

Having said that, how odd! In the three months since Trump's proposal appeared, the New York Times hasn't reported the craziness of the proposal. If you read the hard-copy Times every day, you haven't read about the analyses by those two respected groups—by the Tax Foundation on the semi-right and by Citizens for Tax Justice on the semi-left.

When it pretends to report campaigns, the New York Times no longer stoops to cover such tedious topics. Instead, it does when it did today:

It presents a full-length, hard-copy news report about "the semiology" which is involved in Candidate Rubio's boots—or even, perhaps, in his "booties."

Dearest darlings, attend! The report was written by Vanessa Friedman, the famous newspaper's "fashion director and chief fashion critic." Friedman's report, which runs 811 words, is accompanied by a large photograph of the boots in question.

Dearest darlings, attend! Friedman graduated from Princeton—where else?—in the class of 1989. Before that, she prepped at The Chapin School for Overpaid Girls and at Phillips Exeter, or so says the leading authority.

This made the broken-souled emptyhead scribe the perfect choice for this morning's task. Her assignment: To dumb the nation to its knees while making subscribers think they're reading something clever, insightful, smart.

In truth, how dumb does a life form have to be to drop to the level of Friedman? She has to be professionally dumb—Barbaro-level dumb. At the start of the current week, the emptiest people on the planet began to focus on Rubio's boots, complete with special insinuations about their blatant gay quotient.

As Friedman starts her news report, she explains how the whole business started:
FRIEDMAN (1/8/16): This week ''boots on the ground'' took on a whole new meaning in politics.

A surprising focus on Senator Marco Rubio's shiny, stack-heeled ankle boots, first noted in a desultory Twitter post on Monday by a New York Times reporter, has grown over the last few days into one of the weirder firestorms of the presidential campaign, with rival candidates and the news media adding tinder to the flames.

Senator Ted Cruz's communications director, Rick Tyler, wrote on Twitter: ''A Vote for Marco Rubio Is a Vote for Men's High-Heeled Booties.'' ''Rubio has those cute new boots and I don't want to be outdone,'' Senator Rand Paul said before an appearance on ''The View.'' Carly Fiorina posted a Twitter message with a photograph of her own pair of high-heeled boots, with the message ''Yeah, @marcorubio, but can you rock these?''

On ''Morning Joe,'' Joe Scarborough called the footwear ''shagalicious.'' Vanity Fair played a ''guess the brand and cost'' game. New York Magazine's The Cut compared Mr. Rubio to Harry Styles, the One Direction heartthrob. The Daily Mail twinned him with former President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, a noted clotheshorse.
These life forms are among the world's emptiest. Based on her own hat trick—Chapin, Exeter and Princeton—Friedman's equipped to serve as their leader.

That said, the spear-chucker who started the craze was none other than Michael Barbaro, the press corps' famous "silliest boy." Fresh off his 2011 front-page profile of Candidate Romney's hair stylist, he provided the tweet which launched this latest lemming leap.

On line, Friedman links to Barbaro's tweet. You can admire the twitter post here in all its foundational greatness.

If you lack a single brain cell, you'll read Friedman's report for content. Instead, we'll scan it to help explain the culture of the New York Times, the nation's dumbest, most addled upper-class newspaper.

What did we mean when we said that Friedman's report is tricked out to make subscribers think they're reading something clever, insightful, cutting-edge, even smart?

Start with her silly use of "semiology," which you'll have to seek out for yourselves. According to Nexis, the word has appeared in the New York Times just seven times in the past year—only once by someone who isn't Vanessa Friedman.

For stupidity masquerading as insight, we'll also strongly recommend what follows. Warning! At the start of this know-nothing passage, Friedman refers to "Bootgate:"
FRIEDMAN: As sartorial politics go, Bootgate has eclipsed any other fashion story of the election thus far, including any fashion story related to the two female candidates, Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina.

(Indeed, most of the talk about Mrs. Clinton's wardrobe has been contained to jokes scripted by the Democratic candidate herself.)

Note to male political candidates: Shoe's on the other foot now, boys.
In that passage, Friedman extends the addled old know-nothing notion that female candidates are constantly getting their wardrobes frisked. Implicitly, she seems to acknowledge that this hasn't been the case in the current campaign, while explicitly keeping trope alive with her witty "shoe's on the other foot" pronouncement.

She disappears the previous version of Bootgate, the one directed at Candidate Gore in the fall of 1999, when every part of that candidate's wardrobe was analyzed and "explained" by the collection of life forms from which Friedman has emerged.

Those "explanations" all told us one sacred and scripted thing—Candidate Gore was a phony, a fake, a confection, inauthentic. With respect to the cowboys boots he had worn all through his career, we were now told that his boots were too shiny (that was meant to convey the idea that the boots were new) and even that Gore was hemming his pants twelve inches too high so voters would see his new boots.

The life forms all took a turn with this theme during that previous Bootgate. Here were the inexcusable Cokie and Steve in their nationally syndicated column:
ROBERTS AND ROBERTS (10/15/99): Look at Al Gore, after almost 23 years in public life, suddenly searching for his “authentic” self and then finding it in cowboy boots and open-necked shirts.

Is this the same Al Gore who grew up in a fancy hotel in Washington, went to Harvard and now lives in the vice president’s mansion, a short walk from the elite prep school he attended? Somehow, we doubt that cowboy boots and polo shirts were part of the dress code at St. Alban’s.
Did you follow the logic there? Because cowboy boots weren't part of his high school's dress code, Candidate Gore was "inauthentic" for employing such footwear some thirty years later!

As noted, Gore had worn boots all through his career. In this passage, Roberts and Roberts changed that fact as they served us a helping of script. That said, everyone took a turn with this theme, which also extended to Gore's troubling use of polo shirts, suits which were brown, and suit jackets which had three buttons. For links to past work, see below.

People are dead all over the world because these life forms played these games during that history-changing campaign. Today, Friedman keeps pretending that her upper-class colleagues only behave this way with respect to female candidates.

It's a theme Times readers have heard. They will think her comments are sharp, perhaps even just a bit edgy. This is why we subscribe to the Times, some readers may even conclude

On the brighter side, Cokie Roberts continues to simper and mince on TV, especially C-Span. Meanwhile, everyone from Hayes and Maddow right on down has agreed that you must never be told that their colleagues, and of course their corporate pay-masters, engaged in that previous conduct. Within the world of the corporate press, certain things simply aren't said!

In how much simpering does Friedman engage today? In an empty-headed pseudo-analysis of "the male wardrobe situation," she's actually back to counting those suit-jacket buttons!

Warning! "Important lesson" ahead:
FRIEDMAN (continuing directly): Which actually points up an important lesson about the male wardrobe situation that politicians everywhere might consider.

Namely that it had become almost entirely predictable, especially vis-Ã -vis the current Republican field. Simply consider the party's last debate, wherein six of the eight male participants wore almost exactly the same outfit: red tie, white shirt, and dark two-button suit.

On the one hand, this means if you stay within the expected norms, you pretty much ensure that your clothes remain off the table as a subject of conversation and criticism. There is a reason, for example, that Presidents Reagan, Clinton and both Bushes wore shoes by the same shoemaker, Allen Edmonds, for their inaugurations.

On the other hand, however, it also means that when any variable is changed it can provoke an outsize reaction, including broad analysis of the rationale behind the choice. Consider the mockery visited on Rick Perry when he appeared in Clark Kent-like thick-rimmed eyeglasses in 2014. ''Texas Gov. Rick Perry Indicted for Wearing Hipster Glasses,'' The Huffington Post chortled.

At which point you can either choose to embrace your point of difference, or retreat back into the straitjacket of familiar dress.
As we used to say on the comedy stage, that's good solid thought-provoking stuff!

As she simpers along, Friedman never explains why the number of buttons on those suits, or any of the other "variables," should "provoke a reaction" from the press corps at all. In short, why did Barbaro offer that tweet? Our Princeton buffoon doesn't say.

(By the way: Is there a reason why three presidents wore those shoes to their inaugurations? To the Chapin girl, the point is so obvious, or the readers are presumed to be so trusting, that she feels no need to explain.)

To this day, the New York Times hasn't reported Candidate Trump's crazy budget proposal. Today, though, it hands us this puddle of warm bootzengruel.

This brings us to an important point about the role of the New York Times in our nation's failing culture, which is badly failing.

On a cultural basis, the New York Times is broken-souled, empty, upper-class, addled. But it's very hard for people to see that, given its very famous brand, and people like Maddow and Hayes will never tattle or tell.

Neither will Robinson, Rich or Dionne. Neither will Tomasky or Walsh or Corn or Reid or any guest on Hardball.

Cokie will continue to prattle. We'd love to see Kevin Drum speak.

People are dead all over the world? In the aftermath of their schooling at Chapin, fine ladies like Friedman—she's "chief fashion critic"—don't know how to notice or care.

Visit our incomparable archives: For a detailed report on the previous Bootgate, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/4/03. Also included:

Polo shirts, three-button jackets, khaki pants, suits which were brown. With a link to earth tone allegations, with misogyny aimed at Wolf.

We reported the same wardrobe-based war in Chapter 5 of our companion site, How He Got There. How did Candidate Bush reach the White House?

For part of the answer, click here. Sixteen years later, no one else has wanted to tell you about this.

This morning, the clown car is back.


  1. All Sentient Life EverywhereJanuary 8, 2016 at 12:26 PM

    Yup, it is, manifestly, lunacy. In the "paper of record." It is supposed by many to be a "smart" publication.

    The Bigger Problem though -- of course -- is awful Bob Somerby, right trolls?

    1. Sixteen years later, no one else has wanted to tell you about this.

    2. And on cue, the self-impressed troll once again performs his apery -- received as always with an utter lack of amusement or interest by all.

    3. Except Nona the Senient

  2. Why complain only about the media's failure to cover the cost of Trump's proposal? All candidates' proposals should be covered. Trump's ridiculous proposal isn't even the most extreme. According to the Wall street Journal, the extra spending in Sanders' proposals is $18 trillion over 10 years, which is even greater than the loss of tax revenue in Trump's ridiculous proposals. I suspect that the proposals from Cruz, Clinton, etc. might also look a bit ridiculous, though less so than Trump's and Sanders'.


    1. This is not true...


    2. "This is not true"

      Worst-kept secret of the day.

  3. Reminds me of the nauseating days of Robin Givhan's "style profile" of the candidates." In 2006, she was awarded the Pulitzer prize for these silly, but deeply influential piffles. As Bob rightly points out "people are dead all over the world because these life forms played these games"--and still play them. At the moment, the game is whether president Obama is a wuss for crying over dead children and whether Hillary is unqualified to be president because Bill cheated on her 30 years ago.

  4. Oh hood God - Friedman's a fashion writer, event with the Financial Times. She wrote a good column, including the importance of Hillary controlling the damn cleavage and headband stories. Just because political writers should be writing more doesn't mean Friedman shouldn't do her job. You blew this one, Bob.

  5. Oh hood God - Friedman's a fashion writer, event with the Financial Times. She wrote a good column, including the importance of Hillary controlling the damn cleavage and headband stories. Just because political writers should be writing more doesn't mean Friedman shouldn't do her job. You blew this one, Bob.

    1. It's played as News! on A1 in the paper copy.

      That's an editorial decision that merits scorn and derision.

      You blow yourself, Decidere.

    2. Friedman's article doesn't merit scorn & derision, only the Times' editorial decision.
      & sorry, my ability at autofellatio is lacking, but if you post a video, I'll give it a try.

  6. They are calling Rubio a girl (or girly man). Feminizing the candidate is a way of implying he is too weak to be president. It is an attack on Rubio and the others are joining in to pull him down because he is one of the viable mainstream candidates.

    This isn't inconsequential fashion reporting. It is political in-fighting. The NY Times shouldn't be participating. When it does, it is not neutral or objective or factual. It makes itself a power broker when it tries to influence the outcome of the nomination process. That is just wrong.

    You can pretend that the NY Times isn't serving the interests of plutocrats, that it is disinterested and has no horse in the race, but that is untrue. To the extent you brush this stuff off, you allow it to continue and you give it added influence by refusing to be aware of the manipulation inherent in suggesting that Rubio is being treated like a woman because he has chosen to wear high-heeled fashionable boots, like women do. This stuff is damaging and someone should call them on it.

    1. Its not damaging. Rubio is awful, a complete neocon tool of the oligarchs. The nation benefits from any feminizing mockery that pulls him down.

    2. Bingo! That's it. The problem is much bigger than filling the news hole with pap. The problem is the newspaper engaging in playground taunting games. Somerby has been able to enunciate this much better in the past.

  7. What's in it for the corporate-owned media to not distract, misinform, and confuse the public?

  8. "People are dead all over the world because these life forms played these games ..."

    OK, but if played against harsh neocon Rubio, such games may just SAVE lives all over the world.

    So don't be hatin.

    1. Bootlickin' prog SJW.

    2. Hah. Quite rich, Zim.

    3. F*ckin libtard. They're waiting for you in Malheur.

  9. How can a tweet of less than 140 characters be 'desultory'?

  10. How can a tweet of less than 140 characters be 'desultory'?

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