Earlier, the Times had spotted the latest gaffe: We were surprised by something we read in this morning's New York Times, print edition only.
It seemed to come right at the start of today's featured editorial. At any rate, we were surprised to read this:
APPARENT NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (5/26/20): Last week Joe Biden made an off-the-cuff joke that could be interpreted as taking African-American votes for granted. It wasn’t a big deal—Biden, who loyally served Barack Obama, has long had a strong affinity with black voters, and he has made a point of issuing policy proposals aimed at narrowing racial health and wealth gaps. Still, Biden apologized.Biden's remark was no big deal, the apparent editorial said.
We were surprised by that assessment, in part because we'd read the New York Times over the weekend, on Saturday and Sunday both.
On Saturday, the Times had devoted this full-length news report to Biden's troubling remark. On Sunday, things got worse.
On Sunday, there was no way to move the topic to the New York Times front page. On Sunday, the Times front page was wholly devoted to a bit of performative mourning on the part of what has become our most tribal blue newspaper. That said:
On Sunday, the featured report in the paper's National section concerned Biden's remark. The topic led the National section. A youngish writer had been assigned the task of analyzing Biden's comment.
In fairness, yes, this is the guild this youngish reporter has chosen. Despite that fact, we can't blame the youngish reporter for what you'll see below.
The youngish reporter didn't invent the journalistic world into which she has emerged after graduating from college in 2014. But with a pitch-perfect ear for her newspaper's gaffe culture, she wrote this about the radio show on which Biden committed his comment:
MZEZEWA (5/24/20): “The Breakfast Club” airs every weekday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Eastern and from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturdays on Power 105.1. Before the pandemic, its three hosts welcomed guests into their studio in Manhattan to discuss everything from music to celebrity gossip to politics. Many fans of the show listen to it on podcast apps, too.The radio host with whom Biden spoke "has been called out for his own gaffes"—also, for his homophobic, transphobic and sexist comments. For now, let's forget about that.
Interviewees have been known to walk out if they don’t like a question. Even DJ Envy, a host, once walked out on the show. No one who enters the studio or, now, joins a video call with any member of the hosting trio is safe from commentary and criticism. And when the hosts upset listeners, people take to Twitter, where Charlamagne has been called out for his own gaffes and homophobic, transphobic and sexist comments.
In its nearly decade-long run, the show has created viral moments with rappers, actors, and politicians. As it has carved out a space for serious conversations about politics, it has become an important stop for candidates who desperately want to appeal to black voters. After all, it was on this show that Hillary Clinton said that she carried hot sauce in her bag, just like Beyoncé.
Mrs. Clinton appeared in April 2016, and since then the show has become an even more crucial campaign stop for presidential hopefuls who want to reach the show’s mostly black, young listeners and viewers.
Also, and much more significantly, "it was on this show that Hillary Clinton said that she carried hot sauce in her bag, just like Beyoncé." Candidate Clinton made this remark in April 2016, the youngish reporter now said.
The youngish reporter didn't seem to feel the need to explain the inclusion of such a trivial matter in her news report. She (and her editor) possibly thought that readers would remember the candidate's "hot sauce" remark.
Mind-reading skillfully, she did suggest that this remark by Candidate Clinton had signaled her "desperate" desire to appeal to black voters. Reporters have long been able to discern the motives behind such otherwise trivial comments.
For those condemned to recall such matters, Candidate Clinton's "hot sauce" disclosure touched off one of the braindead gaffe-based culture wars which have increasingly defined our presidential politics over the past several decades.
It was right up there with Candidate Kerry's terrible gaffe when he ordered the wrong kind of cheese to go on his Philly cheesesteak during Campaign 2004. It was right up there with the three million sartorial gaffes committed by Candidate Gore during Campaign 2000, when he even wore suit jackets with three buttons instead of the much-preferred two.
Braindead members of the upper-end guild have patrolled such campaign gaffes for decades. They've patrolled the candidates' spoken gaffes. They've patrolled the candidates' wardrobe gaffes.
They've patrolled an array of hairdo gaffes, including those committed by spouses. Here was Maureen Dowd, patrolling the various gaffes of Candidate Dean's unacceptable wife, once again during Campaign 2004:
DOWD (1/15/04): Even by the transcendentally wacky standard for political unions set by Bill and Hillary Clinton, the Deans have an unusual relationship."Judith Steinberg has shunned the role of helpmeet," Dowd reported as she continued. And not only that! Dearest darlings, the clothing in that startling photo! And that uncoiffed hair!
The first hard evidence most people had that Howard Dean was actually married came with a startling picture of his wife on the front page of Tuesday's Times, accompanying a Jodi Wilgoren profile.
In worn jeans and old sneakers, the shy and retiring Dr. Judith Steinberg Dean looked like a crunchy Vermont hippie, blithely uncoiffed, unadorned, unstyled and unconcerned about not being at her husband's side—the anti-Laura [Bush]. You could easily imagine the din of Rush Limbaugh and Co. demonizing her as a counterculture fem-lib role model for the blue states.
Dowd went on to pen a second column discussing Candidate Dean's living, breathing gaffe of a non-Stepford wife. In fairness to Dowd, she wasn't the only major pundit frisking Dean's inexcusable spouse. Sadly, this is an integral part of the braindead culture into which youngish reporters must emerge when they join the upper-end press corps.
This morning, we were surprised! We were surprised when it seemed that the Times editorial board had declared that Candidate Biden's recent remark "wasn't a big deal."
As it turned out, that wasn't the editorial board voicing that judgment at all! In fact, the essay was written Paul Krugman. It was his regular Tuesday column.
The authorship of the piece is clear if you read the Times online. In print editions, the Krugman column is positioned in such a way that it may appear to be the day's featured editorial. This is a type of unwise visual misdirection in which the routinely unwise editorial board has recently begun to engage.
We can't blame that youngish reporter for becoming a part of gaffe culture. Nor was the New York Times alone in treating Biden's "off-the-cuff joke" as a major topic.
On Saturday morning, Biden's remark was the subject of a full-blown front-page news report in the Washington Post's print editions. On Sunday, the opinion columns followed. So it long has gone within the press corps' prevailing gaffe culture, a culture maintained by a circle of adepts who are devoted to The Cult of the Offhand Comment.
Unfortunately, there's more to say about Biden's remark and its coverage. There's a great deal more to say about the guild's never-ending gaffe culture.
Such discussions are nothing but anthropology now, of course. Nothing will ever change this guild's attraction to trivia and the irrelevant.
For decades now, this low-IQ culture has produced the imitations of discourse which pose as campaign coverage. You might even refer to these manifestations as "imitations of life."
We'll explore this culture all week. Krugman's comments about Biden's remark are, of course, matters of opinion and judgment. That said, the press corps' judgment has often been amazingly poor down through these many long years.
As Sunday's report in the Times helps us see, the judgment of us the people is often even worse. All hail social media, with its rampaging furious Dowdism! All hail the three million ways we humans will wander off point!
Coming: Rational animals are asked to recall the book called "The Family of Man [sic]"