The Germans wore gray, but Ilsa wore blue!


Vanessa Friedman gone wild: Has anybody actually watched the three GOP "debates?"

At the New York Times, Vanessa Friedman apparently has! Yesterday morning, on page D4, she told readers how the debates have gone:

FRIEDMAN (11/9/23): In a crowded field of Republican presidential candidates, Nikki R. Haley is starting to stand out. Such, anyway, seems to be the conclusion of pollsters, voters and donors alike, who have helped bolster her numbers since she first took to the debate stage back in August. She’s on enough of an upswing that “Saturday Night Live” has started to prep a Haley character in anticipation.


In that initial debate, surrounded by seven men in the exact same outfits—dark blue suits, white shirts, red ties, tiny flag pins, otherwise known as the political uniform of the non-debating Donald J. Trump—Ms. Haley was a beacon in a light blue bouclĂ© skirt suit and high heels.

In the second debate, with the men in pretty much the same outfits (Tim Scott did wear a red and navy striped tie that time), there she was, in gleaming crimson silk shantung and pumps. And chances are, as the field shrinks in the third debate, such distinctions will become even more apparent.

For the record, that third debate had already taken place when this report appeared in print editions. It was an official UNBUTTONED report from the Times' "fashion director and chief fashion critic," postings Friedman has held since 2014.

Reports like this make our skin crawl, dating back to the tsunami of wardrobe-trawling which overtook Campaign 2000. Starting in the fall of 1999, Candidate Gore was trashed for every aspect of his highly revealing wardrobe.

The candidate was trashed for his boots; for his suits; for the number of buttons on his suits (three).

For his unseemly polo shirts; for the height at which he hemmed his pants; most repetitively, for the deeply troubling color of that one "earth toned" suit.

The coverage reached the level of insanity, and then it just kept going. This insanity went unmentioned by the rest of the guild. 

The fact that this lunacy went unmentioned says something about a range of academic and journalistic elites. For our money, the medals for Crazy would have gone to Matthews, Williams and Huffington, but the outfit-frisking was widely practiced, and the frisking went on for months.

In fairness, yesterday's "UNBUTTONED" analysis piece was hidden on page F4. This morning, though, Friedman is right there on A1—on the Times' front page!

Today, she's frisking what the Trumps wore to court in the exciting past week. Print edition headline included, here's how her news report starts:

Taking the Stand, the Trumps Try to Set a Uniform Tone. It’s Blue...

The New York attorney general’s office has finished presenting its case in the civil fraud trial of former President Donald J. Trump. The first act of the first episode in the extended series known as the Trump lawsuits has come to an end. (The defense begins next week, and four more criminal cases are pending.) The show, however, is only beginning.

Mr. Trump is, after all, a man who has always seen the presidency as perhaps the ultimate expression of reality TV. This stage may not be of his own choosing, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity involved—especially since his three adult children from his first marriage were also there, playing their usual parts. Down to the costumes.

Welcome to the new season of Trump family trial style. It involves a somewhat different look for the brand—one that is notably … well, blue.

All in green went my love riding, cummings once reported. According to this front-page breaking news, the Trumps were all costumed in blue:

The guest star of the week was Ivanka Trump, making a reluctant return to center stage after announcing on Instagram last year that she was stepping out of the political limelight. She was the focus of this week’s final scene, flying up from her home in Florida, emerging from the bowels of a black town car to make her entrance in a navy wool coat and navy pantsuit, a black leather tote clutched in one hand, tiny pearl studs in her ears and with her blond hair falling in soft waves around her face, the picture of gentle, pulled-together professionalism and good will.

Ivanka was the picture of professionalism? Frankly, we're glad that somebody is! Later, the front-page report lumbers on:

[Donald J.] Trump had taken the stand earlier in the week, in a navy suit, bright blue tie hanging extra long, and little flag pin. Not exactly his usual MAGA uniform of red (tie), white (shirt) and blue (suit) but a variation on the theme, perhaps in acknowledgment that the site was not the campaign trail, no matter how much he may use his legal problems to rally his troops. Besides, his pugilistic expression, made famous in his Georgia mug shot and then plastered over campaign merch, was fully present during his testimony, even if no one else was seeing red.

And his suit set the tone for his children, all of whom coordinated in matching navy for their own time on the stand, an implicit show of family unity before any words were uttered. How do we know they’re on the same page?

Just look at Mr. Trump’s sons and co-defendants Donald Jr. and Eric, both of whom testified the week before their father and sister, and both of whom were clothed as the perfect supporting cast, in matching pastel ties and shirts. Specifically, a pink tie and light blue shirt for Donald Jr. on Day 1 of his testimony and a light blue tie and powder pink shirt on Day 2, a light blue tie and white shirt for Eric, colors that would complement, rather than compete with, their father’s primary shades. Both wore matching brown lace-up shoes and carefully landscaped matching facial foliage.

Both, like their father (and sister), avoided the bright red that has become the Trump signature color and, for that matter, any overt displays of wealth through accessorizing—a pointed choice for a family that delights in the trappings of “Dynasty.” And most likely a calculated one for a trial in which the judge has already found that Mr. Trump inflated his net worth, and the question is simply about how much of that flimflam was conscious fraud.

The Daily Mail, the British newspaper that delights in pricing out Ivanka Trump’s outfits, declared that her coat was by Carolina Herrera (when asked, the brand could not confirm), her “executive tote” by Chanel, her pumps by Jimmy Choo and her suit by Trina Turk, but there was little visible branding in her clothes, little to suggest that they were anything other than an outfit meant for cooperation rather than combat.

There's always a lot of "perhaps," "most likely" and "suggest" when Friedman goes on these jags. 

"How do we know," Friedman asks, that the Trumps were all "on the same page?" 

She asks the question, but never quite answers. Nor are we allowed to know why we're supposed to care.

As noted, this piddle appears today on the Times front page. Included is a photo of Ivanka. As [NAME WITHHELD] said to us back in 1998, or at least as she said within our hearing, "It's always about the girl."

(Mournfully, she was referring to the obsessive focus on Monica.)

This piddle appears on page A1 of this morning's Times. Inside the paper, on page A11, we find this less important report:

Two Studies on Greenland Reveal Ominous Signs for Sea Level Rise
Some glaciers on the island are melting at double the rate of just a few decades ago.

Ominous, yes. But insufficiently dumb.

"I remember every detail. The Germans wore grey, you wore blue."

So says Rick, speaking to Ilsa, right there in his famous gin joint, as they're first reunited.

"I put that dress away," she says. "When the Germans march out, I'll put it on again."

Why would Candidate Gore wear a three-button suit? What was he trying to signal?

It was press corps elites gone wild—and the other members of the guild all agreed not to notice or tattle.

This morning, Friedman is featured on the front page. Glaciers are melting at double the rate? Please look on page 11!


  1. Is it the fault of journalism for peddling this piddle?

    Or is it the fault of the masses for wanting to focus on dumb, shallow, easy to digest content?


    But which is easier to change?

    1. Why change something that makes people happy?

  2. If the choice is between reading Vanessa Friedman’s essay vs the emanations from Somerby’s favorite NYT columnist David Brooks’ empty head, I’d go with Friedman.

  3. Just as a factoid: only 6.6% of NYT subscribers get the print edition. I don’t think the Friedman essay belonged on the front page, but do they frequently publish stuff like this on page 1 of the print version?

    Anyway, if there had been a front page report about a football game, I would have avoided that too. A reader can actually choose what to read and what to avoid (like the entire sports section). This is certainly true for the web version.

    As far as Friedman, I would much rather read her opinions on current fashion trends and designers, since she is in that world.

    To each his own.

    And I can also stay abreast of the conflict in the Middle East while checking the football scores, if I am so inclined. Life is unbearable if it consists in nothing but contemplations of the grimness and horrors in the world.

    1. With print newspapers, sometimes stories get plugged into holes in the page when some other planned article is not ready or has to be withheld for some reason. Then it is the length not the importance of a written piece that determines where it appears. Such decisions are made at the last minute. It is a shame that Somerby never worked on his school newspaper, because knowing how journalism works would make him a better media critic.

    2. mh, so what’s taking your mind off the grimness and horror of war and football?

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  5. I don’t care about the Trumps’ clothes. I am Corby.

    1. You wouldn't want to see Trump without his clothes. I am Corby too.

    2. I would like to see Trump without his clothes. I three am Corby.

  6. Consider the possibility that the trashing of Al Gore’s wardrobe was revealing of something about his personality and candidacy. People attend to fashion because the choices convey information. Even about Al Gore.

    1. But Gore was wearing perfectly normal clothes, just like Bush.

    2. Obviously not.

    3. Look at video of that campaign. Gore dressed normally, as did Bush.

    4. My father owned four suits. One was charcoal grey and only worn to funerals. The other three suits looked almost identical.

      Many times I told him that he needed some different suits because everyone was likely to be thinking that he wore the same thing every day.

      He always seemed to take that suggestion under advisement, but never acted on it.

      Some people are not interested in these things to the point that they feel a bit insincere over such attention.

  7. I wouldn't trust Somerby's account of what was said about Gore's attire. Also, what does the word "frisking" even mean in this context?

    1. Don’t trust Somerby. Look into it yourself.

    2. I was around when it happened. It was no big deal. Gore lost his election for many more important reasons. From time to time I remind people what those were, so they won't swallow Somerby's account of things.

  8. Why has Somerby stopped moderating the commercial spam?

    1. Somerby is inadequate. I am not Corby.

  9. Our resident liar and lonesome loser, from a earlier thread: "...he is not an elected leader of the Palestinians, he has no role in Hamas"

    So? Only elected leaders or people with roles in governing bodies are worth listening to? Where does that leave you?

    "In other words, he wants Israel to stop efforts to contain Palestinian violence, give in to Hamas and wait for the next attack while allowing Palestinians complete freedom to do as they please."

    LOL! "IN OTHER WORDS!" Yeah, in YOUR words, which you're putting in someone else's mouth, inaccurately.

    "It is a common trick of Somerby to leave out the info he feels may weaken his own case and today he doesn't tell you that Yang's PBS interview talked to both sides, including the one Somerby himself doesn't talk to or about, the Israeli perspective." You know we can read Somerby's post for ourselves, right? It's right there for everyone to see. So we can clearly see that what you're saying is a bald-faced lie. Somerby: "Yang spoke with a former Israeli legislator, then he spoke with Bargouthi. You can watch the interview here, or you can see the full transcript." So he DID tell us that Yang talked to both sides. He didn't disappear anything. He even provided a link so anyone interested could easily see for themselves what both sides said. Why didn't Somerby quote the Israeli side? Because his point was that Fox News viewers will never hear "another perspective" like the one Somerby was highlighting. With a track record like yours, no one can trust a single thing you say. You're about as trustworthy as Trump.

    1. There is major irony to disappearing the Israeli perspective while chiding Fox for not telling its viewers both sides, which is what Somerby did.

    2. Hey dishonest dimwit, he didn't "disappear" it, as noted above. And your "criticism" is absurd, since Fox News is supposed to be a news organization reporting the news, while Somerby is just a blogger giving his opinions about whatever random topic he feels like. Somerby wasn't trying to report on the war or give a balanced view of things. That wasn't the topic he chose to write about. He chose to write about Fox's lopsided coverage. Thus he had no obligation in any sense of the word to report the Israeli view of things. That wasn't what he was writing about. It's like criticizing a book review for not discussing the stock market, dummy.

    3. Yes, he did disappear it. He only excerpted and discussed Barghouti's statement. You may not have been around when Somerby used to complain about the things "disappeared" from mainstream news. It is his term and his complaint.

      Somerby has no "obligation" to write about anything. He can do what he wants. But he will not be regarded as a fair and honest broker when he deliberately hides the opinions he disagrees with while promoting those he likes.

      In a discussion about the animosity between Jews and pro-Palestinian people, Somerby left out the pro-Israeli side of a discussion he touted on PBS. That is not "the stock market" because it is directly relevant to the current discussion.

    4. No dumb dumb, it's not "disappearing" something when the something isn't relevant to the point one is making. Somerby wasn't reporting on the war or trying to give a comprehensive account of differing views of it. He was continuing his long-running theme of how news orgs like Fox keep their audiences in information silos. But keep lying, dummy. You'll get better eventually. Someday you might even avoid very obvious lies like this one: "today he doesn't tell you that Yang's PBS interview talked to both sides." Somerby: "Yang spoke with a former Israeli legislator, then he spoke with Bargouthi. You can watch the interview here, or you can see the full transcript."
      You're not just a liar but a dumb one. And it IS "the stock market," because his main topic wasn't the animosity or the war; it was how Fox is only showing its viewers one side. Hey, I noticed you didn't discuss the Israeli side of things in your last comment. Why are you disappearing it? You must be an anti-semite.