Once again, Chotiner objects: Isaac Chotiner's aim was true when he interviewed Amy Chozick.
Chozick had written a ludicrous book about her years of covering Candidate Clinton, mainly for the New York Times. Quite accurately, Chotiner had this to say about one early part of her portrait:
CHOTINER (4/27/18): I thought this was an interesting way of introducing the politics editor of the most important newspaper on Earth as it covers one of the most important elections of our lifetime, because it fits with a lot of critiques of the Times coverage, especially around the Clintons—that it was too gossipy and not focused enough on policy. But I thought you meant it basically as a compliment. How do you respond to that?Chotiner's aim was true. Indeed, you rarely see a professional journalist speaking as frankly about the Times as Chotiner does in his interview with Chozick.
That said, even Chotiner doesn't go far enough in his challenges to Chozick's unintentionally revealing book. We'd say that includes his remarks in another area where his aim was true—in his remarks about the way Chozick presents a group of aides to Candidate Clinton.
Throughout her book, Chozick describes these staffers simply as "The Guys." Alleged depredations are described. No names are ever given.
Chotiner asked three separate questions about this aspect of Chozick's book. Chozick's answers were so pointless that we'll skip them for now:
CHOTINER: Hillary was known for many years to have a close circle of women advisers, but many of the paramount characters in your book are who you call “The Guys.” Do you think her circle became increasingly male, and what effect do you think that had on the campaign?Indeed! If Clinton's staffers were so obnoxious, even misogynistic, it's hard to see why we aren't told who these people were.
CHOTINER: You portray “The Guys” as often rude and condescending, telling you about “a target on your back” and just generally being obnoxious and misogynistic. But you also grant them anonymity. They are given nicknames, even as the media has had a parlor game of trying to figure out who they are. What is the point of not naming them, especially when some of their comments seem pretty gross?
CHOTINER: You say in your author’s note that “having to remember the names of dozens of political operatives who all essentially perform the same purpose is boring.” But if there is a top aide to Hillary Clinton who makes a misogynistic comment to you, it seems newsworthy to say who these people are.
(Chozick's answer: "I was thinking not of the reader in New York or Washington who knows who these people are, but of my mom’s book club in Texas." She didn't want to bore the ladies by making them keep track of the names!)
Once again, we think Chotiner's aim was basically true. That said, we were bothered by this literary device for a reason he doesn't mention—for its sheer inanity, a dominant trait of this book.
Chozick refers to the Clinton staffers as "The Guys." She also gives individual "Guys" their own individual monikers.
We meet Hired Gun Guy on page 9, Original Guy a few pages later. Eventually, we meet Outsider Guy and even Brown Loafers Guy.
Brown Loafers Guy is "a preppy brunet." We learn this on page 5, before he gets his own nickname.
Joined to these nicknames, we encounter long strings of snide remarks about these people, accompanied by claims about their obnoxious, unkind and offensive behavior.
If these people really did behave in these ways, it does seem that this would be a type of news. It's also news that a major reporter for "the most important newspaper on Earth" produces page after page of such childish, snide and insulting drivel, but this is the culture we live in.
Were "The Guys" really as bad as portrayed? Because Chozick uses no one's name, no one is likely to come forward to challenge her childish portraits.
That said, we can point to one place where, in the end, The Guys come off quite well. Here you see the actual prose surrounding Chozick's puzzling anecdote about Natalie Portman's pet dog:
CHOZICK (page 21-22): The Guys hated the kind of memorable details that Carolyn and I both gravitated to. They could forgive us for writing about potential conflicts of interest at the Clinton Foundation...As we noted yesterday, this story about the Yorkie doesn't make any real sense. There also seemed to be no reason for including the Yorkie in the Times' original news report.
But they could never forgive me for the Yorkie.
I had a detail about the foundation purchasing a first-class ticket for Natalie Portman and her beloved dog to fly to one of the Clinton Global Initiative gatherings. Carolyn loved the Yorkie. She wanted to make it the lead.
"It's a fucking Yorkie, Amy!" Outsider Guy yelled as I stuttered trying to explain why this was a critical detail that showed the charity's glitzy overspending. "It weighs like four fucking ponds. It's not like it needed its own seat on the plane."
A year later a conservative super PAC sent around an anti-Hillary fundraising plea. "The Clinton Foundation—which pays to fly her around on private jets, flew Natalie Portman's Yorkie first class."
Carolyn emailed me, "I knew that Yorkie would be back."
Despite these problems, Chozick pictures her editor chuckling when a conservative super PAC creates an erroneous attack on the Clintons out of the Times' silly pseudo-reporting. If "Outsider Guy" actually did complain about this, he had an excellent point.
Chozick's book is full of snide descriptions of the unnamed "Guys." That said, it's also full of snide descriptions of all three of the Clintons—Chelsea, Hill and Bill.
Chozick tends to be snide pretty much all the way down. She's also bored by matters of substance. But this is how the game has played for many long years at the Times.
She didn't know Obama's name; she knew little else besides. She does know how to sling the snide. This is the way of the brain-dead Times in this, The Age of Trumpism.
Coming next: Snide remarks joined to cluelessness and indifference