The New York Times' second mission: Over at Mother Jones, Sarah Jones has tweeted that she was "truly mystified by how badly the NYT botched this book excerpt.”
She refers to the the way, or perhaps to the several ways, the New York Times has bungled its roll-out of the new book about the Kavanaugh hearings.
For ourselves, we haven't yet had the heart to tell you how many ways the Times has managed to bungle that roll-out. More on that later today, with a link to Drum.
For now, we'll only say that we're surprised to see that Jones is surprised by what has occurred. Of all people, we would have hoped that this youngish scribe would have been more savvy.
Jones is a youngish, progressive writer with working-class roots in southwest Virginia coal country. By way of contrast, the Times is a largely vacuous upper-class news org whose cultural roots grow out of the manicured soil in the better parts of the Hamptons.
The Times has been a cancer on American journalism at least since the time, in 1992, when Katherine Boo tried to warn the world about the phenomenon she memorably called "Creeping Dowdism." The fact that Jones is mystified by the Times' latest bungles—well, it just shows us how powerful the newspaper's branding has been.
How fatuous is the inner guild at the New York Times? So fatuous that the paper has decided to reinvent the whole of American history through its self-ballyhooed 1619 Project, a project Andrew Sullivan discussed last Friday in this widely-read essay.
Sullivan praised some of the early work from the project, but warned against the Times' decision to move from "[journalistic] liberalism to [journalistic] activism." For ourselves, we're inclined to think that the paper is indulging itself in massive hubris concerning a deeply important part of American as it launches itself on the mission it announced last month.
The 1619 Project involves a type of journalistic "activism" concerning our nation's brutal racial history. We'll discuss Sullivan's essay on Friday.
Today, let's start to discuss the second major "activist" mission this newspaper seems to be fashioning. We're inclined, perhaps unfairly, to call it Redbook Redux.
How dumb is the essentially upper-class culture inside the New York Times? Let's start today with the "Here to Help" feature found on today's page A3.
As with all upper-class cultures, the upper-class culture of the Times is deep into self-involvement. How else to explain the fatuous nature of a feature which starts off as shown below?
No, we aren't making this up. On today's A3, we found this:
Here to HelpAs the wider American project continues to slide toward the sea, this is the sort of journalism which seems to make sense at the Times.
5 (CHEAPISH) THINGS FOR SELF-CARE IN 15 MINUTES A DAY
In recent months, I’ve queued up a routine with a few simple, inexpensive ways to nurture myself in as little as 15 minutes a day, so that I can feel steady even during life’s droughts and downpours. (I also started going to therapy, because although I find these tools helpful, they can’t replace professional medical help.)
In collaboration with picks from Wirecutter, a New York Times company that reviews and recommends products, here are five cheap(ish) things I use to take care of myself in 15 minutes or less.
The writer here is looking for ways to nurture herself on a daily basis, thereby letting herself feel steady even during life’s droughts and downpours. As almost anyone would, we wondered how old a person would have to be to have mastered so complete a regime of self-involvement.
We'll admit that we were surprised to see that the writer is only five years out of college (Reed, class of 2014). Even at that tender age, she's devoted to nurturing herself while keeping her therapy on the side.
Why knows? Perhaps it's the very craziness of the world the New York Times has helped create which explains this type of anxious self-involvement at such an early age.
We're sure that the writer of this piece is a good, decent person; we're disappointed that she'd get involved with a fatuous outfit like the Times. At any rate, she describes her role at the paper like this:
I'm a New York based writer who knows that good writing takes more than carefully chosen words. Currently, I work at Wirecutter, the product review site owned by the New York Times, with a focus on kitchen gear and apparel. This involves exhaustive research and testing, and a fine eye for details. In my day to day, I research, report, edit, and fact-check pieces; work with editors and stakeholders to align our goals; communicate with web and photo teams to realize the big picture; and use data and analytics to reach the right audience. Beyond crafting narratives, I make sure every project reaches its full potential.Did you know that, as our society slides toward the sea, the New York Times owns a "product review site"—a site which maintains "a focus on kitchen gear and apparel?"
We'll admit that we didn't know that! That said, we're struck by the "exhaustive research" and endless journalistic care which seems to go into the work of the site, especially in contrast to the kinds of disaster which routinely occur when the Times attempts to discuss matters like allegations of sexual assault within the highest realms of national politics.
The self-involvement on display in this morning's piece comes to us from the wheelhouse of the modern Times. As the paper's young writer continues, she lists and describes five different ways she nurtures herself each day, even as her society and the global structure are melting down around her.
At the modern-day New York Times, these priorities seem to make sense. Below, you see one of the ways the Wirecutter says we might self-nurture.
No, we haven't made this up. This appears on page A3 of today's hard-copy Times:
Effortless toothbrushingEffortless toothbrushing! And no, we haven't made that up. That copy appears on page A3 of today's New York Times.
I sometimes yearn to skip this step in my nightly routine so I can just get to bed already. Since getting an electric toothbrush, though, I’ve found that persuading myself to brush is easier. Wirecutter’s pick, the Oral-B Pro 1000, does most of the work for me. The Oral-B is a cinch to use, and it makes my teeth feel scrubbed clean (I just turn it on and attempt to follow the American Dental Association’s guidelines for two solid minutes). Every time I go to Costco, I treat myself to replacement heads alongside a giant bag of snap pea crisps. Balance!
(To peruse the full on-line essay from which the print feature is derived, you can just click here. Don't miss the "bright water bottle you won’t be able to ignore" or the "soothing meditation app." They're all part of The Hamptons Experience!)
Truly, this fatuous upper-class newspaper leaves no stone unturned! Even as it assigns itself the task of creating The One True Version of American History, it's happy to advertise the type of self-nurturing which can result from effortless nightly toothbrushing.
Let's offer a bit of background:
The Times "reimagined" its page A3 a few years ago. Like many others, we were surprised by the slogan the paper announced for its new, helpful page:
You are the dumbest people on earth.That was admirably frank! But doggone it:
We at the Times want to serve you.
Even in the face of that messaging; even in the face of the newspaper's relentless classic bungles, stretching from the invention of the Whitewater pseudo-scandal on through the destruction Candidate Gore on through the relentless deconstruction of the diffident debutante Obambi on through a tweet which has now announced this:
“Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun.”
Even after decades of similar conduct, a journalistic hope for the future is mystified by the Times' latest series of pitiful Trump-aiding bungles.
At this routinely silly, upper-class newspaper, having a penis thrust in your face may seem like harmless fun! On the other hand, effortless toothbrushing can help a subscriber "just get to bed already" on a nightly basis.
On Friday, we plan to discuss The 1619 Project, a sweeping attempt to reinvent the journalistic treatment of our nation's brutal racial history. We plan to discuss Sullivan's view of the project while tossing in our own.
What, though, is the second "mission" on which the Times seems to be launching itself? It seems to us that today's "Here to Help" may help point us in that direction.
We'll describe that second mission tomorrow. We've been thinking of it as Redbook Redux, though that may be unfair.
Tomorrow: A throwback gender world