POSTCARDS FROM THE LEDGE: Follow me, star pundit says!


Part 2—Disordered upper-end thinking:
What makes Sammy run?

It was once a major question. In 1941, it formed the title of a Budd Schulberg novel about Hollywood and the ambitions within it. In 1964, the novel became a long-running Broadway musical.

Today, we have a different question: What made Sally kill? Unless Connie Schultz is delusional, and we're fairly sure she isn't, Quinn admits, in her brand-new memoir, that she and her mother may perhaps have killed five people through the ancient art of the hex.

This revelation comes from someone who has sat, for many years, at the very top of the Insider Washington press corps and social world. And by the way, as a general matter, we aren't a Quinn detractor.

As we've noted in the past, we think Quinn's lengthy report, in November 1998, about the loathing of President Clinton by D.C. elites was one of the most important pieces of journalism about this matter ever published.

If anyone ever wants to discuss the loathing of President Clinton and the subsequent War Against Gore, Quinn's lengthy report provides remarkable first-hand material. It also provides invauable material for anyone who wants to discuss the treatment of Candidate Hillary Clinton in the las tcampaign by a newspapers like the Post and the New York Times.

That said, no one will discuss these matters. As has been clear for many years, such discussions are forbidden by the press corps' code of silence, as was any possibility of turning Schulberg's novel about Hollywood into a Hollywood film.

(We'll quote the leading authority on the topic: "According to a 2001 article in Variety, DreamWorks paid $2.6 million to acquire the rights to the novel from Warner Brothers for a proposed movie version starring and/or directed by Ben Stiller, although production was never begun. Schulberg, who died in 2009, told The Jewish Daily Forward in 2006 that he doubted that a film would ever be made, saying 'I still think there's a sense that it's too anti-industry'. In a 2009 newspaper interview, Schulberg quoted Steven Spielberg as saying that the book was 'anti-Hollywood and should never be filmed.' ")

Whatever! Unless Connie Schultz has been gripped by some type of disordered thinking, Quinn's memoir exposes us to the peculiar thought processes which may be found at the very top of our mainstream journalistic world, even among the finer people, the ones with the $20 million summer cottages in the Hamptons.

How disordered does the thinking get at the top of our upper-end press corps? In a question which is only vaguely related, to what extent do our major journalists lack even the most basic intellectual and analytical skills?

Those are two different questions, but the time has come when sensible people have to ask them—and not just about our major journalists, but about our liberal icons as well, including the embarrassing gaggle of college professors who increasingly make such a joke of the liberal/progressive world. To what extent does our discourse in the hand of deeply incompetent actors?

To what extent are our intellectual leaders disordered? Let's recall an important fact:

Long ago and far away, Zeus played a joke on us mortals. He sent Aristotle down from Olympus with instructions to tell us history'e greatest lie.

"Man [sic] is the rational animal," Aristotle is widely said to have said. At least over here in the western world, we humans have tended to believe the claim, even as the gods on Olympus roar with laughter at our comically disordered ways.

Unless Schultz was hallucinating as she read it, Quinn's memoir seems to spill with extremely peculiar thinking. But then, weird behavior and disordered thinking are common within our mainstream press corps, mixed with a remarkable lack of basic intellectual skill.

The thinking's disordered; the skills are few! Just consider the three (3) memoirs by the top major TV star.

The person to whom we refer is Mika Brzezinski, the famous-name "co-host" of the influential TV show, Morning Joe. The program went on the air in April 2007. In the years which followed, Brzezinski penned these (3) memoirs:
2009: All Things At Once

2011: Knowing Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You're Worth

2013: Obsessed: America’s Food Addiction and My Own
These book are fascinating easy-readers, especially if you're curious about the mental traits which may exist within the upper-end pundit corps. We'd summarize their contents thusly:
All Things At Once:
Up From Obloquy: How I re-emerged at the top after getting fired.

Knowing Your Value:
Up From Penury: How I finally received the millions of dollars I so richly deserve.

Up From Selectivity: The start of the truth behind the BS I put in my first two books.
Whatever! Brzezinski's third book describes a terrible, life-long "addiction" which no one should have to experience. Her second book may imaginably help someone learn to negotiate salary better, though she never seems to realize that she's talking to a privileged band of high-income earners and pretty much nobody else.

It's imaginable that these last two books might do someone some good. That said, the books are most useful as windows into the disordered world of our upper-end upper-class press corps.

For today, consider Brzezinski's first memoir, the book called All Things At Once.

That book covers Brzezinski's life from childhood on through her triumphant return to power as "co-host" of Morning Joe. The title refers to advice Brzezinki's mother always gave her, according to which young women should go ahead and have their children right away, even as they're building their high-income careers.

That may or may not be good advice, depending on the person. What's amazing is Brzezinski's failure to see that the story she tells in the book reads like a heartfelt warning against her mother's advice.

Good lord! The book's first chapter is called Cold Open. It's the harrowing tale of the day in 1998 when Brzezinski, half-crazed from a lack of sleep, falls down a flight of stairs with her four-month-old baby in her arms, seriously injuring her child and coming close to killing her.

Why was Brzezinski half-crazed from lack of sleep on the horrible day in question? Because she's been trying to do "all things at once," raising a family as she pursued a high-powered career and kept moving into ever-bigger houses.

Brzezinski's husband was also pursuing a high-powered career. He was absent when this second daughter was born, forcing Brzezinki to ask a woman she barely knew to drive her to hospital.

Two weeks later, he was absent again when Brzezinski had to move the family into its latest big house, "a big, run-down Victorian in Yonkers...I slogged through the over with a newborn on my breast and a toddler at my feet." Despite these rather striking absences, Brzezinski insists through all three books that she had the greatest marriage and the most supportive husband ever. But four months after that second baby was born, her exhaustion sent her tumbling down a flight of stairs, then to the emergency room—and she chose to use this horrific event as the opening scene in her book.

(The baby was in a full-body cast for four months.)

By any conventional reading, this first memoir is a heartfelt cautionary tale—a plea to young women, advising them not to do it the way Brzezinski did. Somehow, though, Brzezinski thought the endless harrowing tales with which she fills this puzzling book go to prove the opposite point—that Mom was right all along when she said to do all things at once!

This reasoning would seem extremely peculiar, unless you'd seen this author on your TV machine, where her odd behavior helps define the disordered world of These Star TV Pundits Today.

Quinn has killed three people by hex. Brzezinski was apparently unable to see the obvious thrust of her harrowing book. Increasingly, this is the sort of of puzzling fuel on which our upper-end discourse runs.

Tomorrow, we'll look at a few other parts of Brzezinski's memoirs before moving on to the world of These Fiery Liberals Today. With respect to Mika's memoirs, it isn't until the third book that a reader starts getting a hint of the actual truth which lies behind the panoply of harrowing tales which fill the first two volumes. But even then, Brzezinski seems unable to see how weird her life story actually is.

For our money, Brzezinski has always been one of the weirdest TV pundits. That said, she's highly influential.

Increasingly, this is the type of fuel on which our disordered discourse runs. How long will we be willing to leave these disordered players in charge?

Tomorrow: She celebrates herself


  1. The state of liberal discourse sucks in 2017: that’s a TDH thesis. But the state of our any-kind-of discourse sucks in 2017.
    Celebrity culture and the 24-hour cable news networks have degraded our discourse. That, and the vast amount of money dumped into politics. Oh, and the calculated tribalism of the political parties.
    Oh, and oligarchical ownership of media entities. Etc.
    So, I continue to feel that assigning blame to our current state of affairs to only one group (Those Fiery Liberals!) does not fully illuminate the problem.
    Also, was there ever a ”golden age” when political discourse was high-minded, fair, and balanced? Perhaps the “gilded age” of J. Pulitzer and WR Hearst, those famous “yellow journalists”?
    And finally…is there a bloc of people who actually think Brzezinski is some sort of spokesperson for liberalism? Are her books symptoms of diseased liberalism, or diseased culture in general?

  2. According to a 2001 article in Variety, DreamWorks paid $2.6 million to acquire the rights to the novel from Warner Brothers for a proposed movie version starring and/or directed by Ben Stiller, although production was never begun. Schulberg, who died in 2009, told The Jewish Daily Forward in 2006 that he doubted that a film would ever be made, saying 'I still think there's a sense that it's too anti-industry'. In a 2009 newspaper interview, Schulberg quoted Steven Spielberg as saying that the book was 'anti-Hollywood and should never be filmed.

    Hmmm. Schulberg, Stiller, Speilberg. I'm noticing a lot of coincidences here. Something's gifilte fishy about that Spielberg quote, though. It seems far-fetched that Hollywood would be so sensitive about a negative portrayal. Just what is that book about anyways?

    What Makes Sammy Run? (1941) is a novel by Budd Schulberg inspired by the life of his father, early Hollywood mogul B. P. Schulberg. It is a rags to riches story chronicling the rise and fall of Sammy Glick, a Jewish boy born in New York's Lower East Side who, very early in his life, makes up his mind to escape the ghetto and climb the ladder of success by deception and betrayal.

    Ah, that makes a bit more sense now. Maybe they should just have the main character portrayed by a goy and never mention the jewish aspect of his crimes, like they did in "The Wolf of Wall Street."

    1. Kind of sad there are still antisemites like the commenter above still around. I wish Bob would moderate the comment section and/or end anonymous commenting.

    2. Changing a Jew in the show to a goy in the movie was done in at least two cases I recall. One was "Same Time, Next Year." The Broadway play featured Charles Grodin and Ellen Burstyn. Grodin was a nervous, Jewish accountant and Burstyn a Roman Catholic. Some of the humor came from the religious difference (although nobody called the play anti-Semitic.) The movie kept Burstyn, but substituted Alan Alda for Grodin. Alan Alda was not Jewish. Of course, he was wonderful as he always is.

      In "Guys and Dolls", the character Nathan Detroit is Jewish. He even uses a Yiddish expression in one of his songs. But, Frank Sinatra in the movie was not Jewish.

    3. The careful accounting of who is Jewish and who is not, in whatever industry, smells of anti-Semitism.

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  5. The problem with using these books to examine the intellectual capacities of pundits is problematic, because there is no reason to believe there is any truth in them. I suppose the event of Brzezinski falling down the stairs probably actually happened, but why should I believe it was caused by exhaustion? Why should I believe any of the reasons she gives for any event she describes. She is selling a product, carefully crafted to appeal to a particular audience. She wants to sell books, not reveal anything to the world. Now Sally Quinn is probably old-fashioned enough that she wants to give us her true opinion, so we can conclude she's about as sharp as a sack full of wet mice, but beyond that? I mean, what kind of person would say, "He trashed the village, and it was not his village to trash."?

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