Category Archive 'Journalism'
06 Feb 2012

Times’ Sex Smear of Yale Quarterback Provoked Wide Criticism

, , , ,


An earlier witch trial

K.C. Johnson, at Minding the Campus, devastatingly criticized the New York Times story.

When Times readers learned from Richard Perez-Pena that “a fellow student had accused Witt of sexual assault,” how many of them realized that Yale was actually using an “expansive definition” of this otherwise commonly-understood term? How many readers further realized that Yale had designed the procedure about which Perez-Pena wrote so as to give Witt’s accuser “control over the process,” including limited or no investigation? And how many readers could have dreamed that the procedures guiding the allegation against Witt have produced the extraordinary claim that sexual assault is far, far more common on this Ivy League campus than in the fourth most dangerous city in the country? And since the Times went to print without ever speaking to Witt or (it seems) anyone sympathetic to him in the Athletic Department, didn’t the paper at the very least have an obligation to provide the context that would explain the highly unusual procedures and definitions that Yale features?

—————————

Patrick Witt’s response to the Times’ story.

—————————

Kathleen Parker, in the Washington Post, put the New York Times’s reporting standards on trial.

A  New York Times story on Friday… essentially indicted and convicted a 22-year-old star football player on an alleged sexual assault charge by an anonymous accuser. …

[W]ith throat-clearing authority, the story begins with the young man’s name — Patrick J. Witt, Yale University’s former quarterback — and his announcement last fall that he was withdrawing his Rhodes scholarship application so that he could play against Harvard. The game was scheduled the same day as the scholarship interview.

Next we are told that he actually had withdrawn his application for the scholarship after the Rhodes Trust had learned “through unofficial channels that a fellow student had accused Witt of sexual assault.” And there goes the gavel. Case closed.

But in fact, no one seems to know much of anything, and no one in an official capacity is talking. The only people advancing this devastating and sordid tale are “a half-dozen [anonymous] people with knowledge of all or part of the story.” All or part? Which part? As in, “Heard any good gossip lately?”

A statement Friday afternoon on Witt’s behalf denied any connection between his withdrawal from the Rhodes application process and the alleged assault. Moreover, when Witt requested a formal inquiry into the allegations, he says, the university declined. “No formal complaint was filed, no written statement was taken from anyone involved, and his request . . . for a formal inquiry was denied because, he was told, there was nothing to defend against,” according to the statement.

The Times apparently didn’t know these facts, but shouldn’t it have known them before publishing the story? It’s not until the 11th paragraph that readers even learn about the half-dozen anonymous sources. Not until the 14th paragraph does the Times tell us that “many aspects of the situation remain unknown, including some details of the allegation against Witt; how he responded; how it was resolved; and whether Yale officials who handle Rhodes applications — including Richard C. Levin, the university’s president, who signed Witt’s endorsement letter — knew of the complaint.”

Translation: We don’t know anything, but we’re smearing this guy anyway. …

By anyone’s understanding of fairness, Witt has been unjustly condemned by nameless accusers and a complicit press.

—————————

Reuters pointed out that the Times’ own commenters overwhelmingly condemned the newspaper’s decision to print that story.

The Times has already published a follow-up story that noted “diverging stories,” but only after comments and writers began questioning the Times’ editors and the paper’s editorial process.

The simplest summation of that criticism came from a commenter named ‘mystery shopper’ who posted that running the story was “a horrible editorial decision. Ethics classes in schools of journalism around the country will use this story as an example of an ill-advised story.”

—————————

Instapundit readers also reacted:

Reader John Lucas writes: “A red light violator facing a $50 fine gets more due process than a student at Yale (or most other universities) now.”

Reader Dave Ivers writes: “I’ve wondered what would happen if every male athlete at Yale looked around a classroom and noticed a young woman looking at them and than filed an ‘informal’ complaint. Under the Yale rules that ‘looking’ at well-built athletes could be a sexual crime. Since the athletes don’t know for sure, shouldn’t they file to protect themselves and then get victim status?”

13 Jan 2012

Civility

, , , ,

John Oliver interviews Froma Harrop, president of the National Conference of Editorial Writers and head of the Civility Project.

Hat tip to Jonathan Adler.

06 Nov 2011

Different Media Covering Occupy Wall Street Differently

, ,

03 Oct 2011

WaPo Smears Perry

, , , , , , , ,


The bottom of an antique souvenir saucer presents the image of similarly named topographic feature in Virginia.

The Washington Post set some new sort of record for opportunistic associative campaign smear reporting, by proceeding to headline a story informing its readers at length that Rick Perry hunted deer and entertained guests at hunting camps belonging to family and friends located in rural spot, known locally decades ago as “N-word-head.”

Wikipedia identifies the origin of such toponyms and mentions their date of extinction on official US maps.

In several English-speaking countries, Niggerhead or nigger head is a former name for several things thought to resemble a black person (“nigger”)’s head.

The term was once widely used for all sorts of things, including products such as soap and chewing tobacco, but most often for geographic features such as hills and rocks.[citation needed] In the U.S., more than hundred “Niggerheads” and other place names now considered racially offensive were changed in 1962 by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.

Nor did “N-word-head” survive as the name of the area in which the Perry and Reed families’ hunting camps were sited. At some unknown point in the past, again decades ago, someone unknown removed and painted over the sign once identifying a rural Texas location by that name.

The Post obviously had no reason to believe that either Rick Perry, or any member of his family, had named the area “N-word-head.” The Post had no reason to believe that Rick Perry, or any member of his family, had erected a sign consisting of a rock with the “N-word-head” name painted on it. The Post had no reason to attribute any kind of meaningful responsibility for the existence or use in the distant past of that toponymic expression to Rick Perry at all. But associating a conservative Republican presidential candidate with the N-word, even so tangentially, is a way of flinging a big handful of mud at him, and who knows? Some of it might get into some voters’ heads and actually stick.

As an example of political opposition politics, or of journalism, this kind of thing is about as unethical, low, underhanded, cowardly, and despicable as you can try to get away with. I notice that the reptiles and invertebrates that wrote this contemptible story did not even sign their names to it, and I’m not surprised.

—————————-

Herman Cain dramatically diminished my liking and respect for his candidacy yesterday by jumping right in and trying to make hay by using this bilge. Screw him.

14 Sep 2011

Are Men Finished?

, , , ,

50ftWoman

The big brains at Slate discuss “The End of Men,” the topic of an impending debate to be held at NYU on September 20th, featuring Hanna Rosin. Slate never even tells us who (or what) will be debating the negative on September 20th.

Hanna Rosin’s 2010 Atlantic cover story, “The End of Men,” was one of the most talked-about magazine articles in recent years. “Man has been the dominant sex since, well, the dawn of mankind,” wrote Rosin, an award-winning journalist for Slate and the Atlantic. “But for the first time in human history, that is changing—and with shocking speed.” …

Why are men finished, exactly? Rosin says they’ve failed to adapt to a modern, postindustrial economy that demands a more traditionally—and stereotypically—feminine skill set (read: communication skills, social intelligence, empathy, consensus-building, and flexibility). Statistics show they’re rapidly falling behind their female counterparts at school, work, and home. For every two men who receive a college degree, three women will. Of the 15 fastest-growing professions during the next decade, women dominate all but two. Meanwhile, men are even languishing in movies and on television: They’re portrayed as deadbeats and morons alongside their sardonic and successful female co-stars. …

Rosin: The question I always have to respond to is, ‘[if women are taking over] why are there so many more men in power?’ If you look at Hollywood, or you look at the Fortune 500 list, or you look at politics, there’s a disproportionate number of men in the higher positions of power.

Slate: Why is that, then?

Rosin: Men have been at this for 40,000 years. Women have been rising for something like 30 or 40 years. So of course women haven’t occupied every single [high-powered] position. How would that be possible? The rise of women is barely a generation old. But if you look at everything else, like the median, the big bulge in the middle, it’s just unbelievable what has happened: Women are more than 50 percent of the workforce, and they’re more than 50 percent of managers. It’s just extraordinary that that’s happened in basically one generation. It seems like whatever it is that this economy is demanding, whatever special ingredients, women just have them more than men do.

This is the kind of analysis that is actually taken seriously by the scientific, intellectual American elite that is so much better qualified to make all the decisions for the rest of America.

24 Aug 2011

5.9 Earthquake Hits Virginia

, , , ,

Yesterday afternoon, when the earthquake hit, I was two steps up a rickety flight of stairs in an old warehouse in Remington, Virginia where we’re storing some of the many books we cannot fit into the charming, antique Virginia farmhouse we are currently inhabiting.

I thought someone must be opening an exceptionally violent garage door on the other side of the wall, then began guessing someone was running some piece of heavy machinery nearby in the building. The vibration stopped, and I proceeded upstairs.

I only learned that it was an earthquake when I got back to the car and turned on the radio.

WMAL, 63 AM, the station I listen to El Rushbo on, switched over to full-time broadcasting about this major news event. Sean Hannity never even came on. Instead, Conservative talk radio host Chris Plante was dragged out a pizzeria, where he had been lunching, back to the studio to cover what was essentially a non-event.

Chris and his associates interviewed all sorts of ordinary people, who testified to all of their personal earthquake experiences (typically just as interesting as mine).

My blood ran cold when Chris Plante, the conservative, proceeded in Pavlovian journalistic manner to interview a state legislator from Prince George County about “government’s response.” I would have said, in his position: “Response? What response? There was no actual damage. No injuries. There wasn’t anything anyone needed to do.” But, no. The politico happily bloviated on and on about how each and every level of government bureaucracy, all the “first responders” in particular, turned on every flashing light and siren, and spun their wheels vigorously. Our rulers, guardians, supervisors, and protectors had to justify their existence by seeming to take control, and keeping the rest of us alerted and informed, even if there was nothing in particular to alert us about, beyond potential heavy traffic resulting from government offices releasing their personnel to commute home early.

Even a conservative commentator, like Chris Plante, can be found to behave as a true product of the culture of journalism and officialdom, when push comes shove (even in the case of a minor 5.9 push), the journalist Plante goes running to Big Brother to participate in, and to cover with canine respect, the charade of official expertise gravely protecting us, the helpless public, from all perils and vissiscitudes, even in an instance where there is nothing but the empty semblance of a real event.

Bah, humbug!

Being engaged in something, kind of, sort of, resembling journalism myself, as you can see, I, too, felt obliged to cover the terrible earthquake of 2011, and here from BuzzFeed are 20 photographs of some of the worst damage.

24 Jun 2011

Watch the Bachmann Campaign Distribute That Rolling Stone Article in Iowa

, , , ,


Rep. Michele Bachmann

Abe Sauer, blogging at The Awl, contends that Rolling Stone’s recent hit-piece on Michele Bachmann by Matt Taibbi represents a classic example of leftie journalism taking deliberate aim at an opponent and then shooting itself in the foot.

The backlash against the lashing out against presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has already begun. Following the Palin blueprint, Bachmann plans on fully leveraging the negative publicity with her base: they see leftist attacks as a point of pride and an indication of strength. …

It’s forgivable that Rolling Stone’s take-down is at best re-reported and at worst poorly sourced. It’s less forgivable that it’s self-detonating. It’s a screed that warns America that Michele Bachmann is to be taken seriously—right before doing exactly the opposite.

The profile is the kind of battle-axing of Bachmann that is going to do great pageviews for the magazine but ultimately play right into her hand. It gives Bachmann legitimate evidence that the fabled leftist mainstream media is attacking her. Consequently, it will make her more popular with a base that looks for which conservative leader is being most reviled in the media, and then assumes that person is their best bet. (It’s not a coincidence that Tim Pawlenty has completely avoided harsh criticism from the MSM while at the same time being unable to gain traction with Tea Party-influenced primary voters.)

Not only is the profile unnecessarily mean, it’s sloppy. …

On the same day Taibbi’s story hit the web, The Blaze called it a “seemingly slanderous” piece that “attacks Bachmann’s faith.” Elsewhere it was called an “anti-Christian hit piece.” By tomorrow, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bachmann’s own campaign distributing photocopies of it in Iowa.

But Bremer’s greatest complaint is Rolling Stone “smearing the town of Stillwater as some whites-only, wealthy gated community that propelled Bachmann to the national scene.” And Avidor said that “the smear of Stillwater is what sticks out for me.”

“I can’t believe he ever came here,” Bremer said. Actually, he didn’t: Taibbi confirmed to me that he never set foot in Minnesota for the piece.

05 Mar 2011

Yale Pundits Make the News

, , , , , ,


Typical Yale secret society initiation (clothed phase) (click on image for larger version.)

This year’s February 19th Pundits’ initiation party apparently featured slightly heavier drinking than usual. A student informant (who knows if he was telling the truth?) told the Yale Daily News that five attendees wound up at Yale-New Haven Hospital and six others at Yale’s Department of University Health.

11 out 50 attendees rendered so hors de combat by drinking that they had to seek medical attention? Not just impressive, Homeric really. Vital positions have been taken in military engagements whose memories echo through history with lower percentage casualties.

The same person (who could possibly be just a little prone to exaggeration) also told the YDN that he saw “a member of the Pundits forcing attendees to kiss each other and that a Pundit forced a male friend’s face onto another’s penis.”

Three Dog Night clearly composed this little number after one of the Pundits’ parties.

———————————————

This year’s Pundits initiation party rapidly achieved national news coverage.

IvyGate coverage

CBS tell all

New York Post story

———————————————

Some helpful (inside Yale) background.

A pundit is an expert, a vendor of influential, nay, determinative opinions. According to Wikipedia, it even seems most probable that the common vernacular use of the term pundit has “its origins in a Yale University society known as “The Pundits” which, founded in 1884, developed a reputation for including among its members the school’s most incisive and humorous critics of contemporary society. … Several members of the society have also gone on to become leading political pundits, including Pulitzer Prize-winning author and energy expert Daniel Yergin. Other notable Yale Pundits include A. Whitney Griswold, Lewis H. Lapham and Joe Lieberman.”

The founder of the Pundits, as an undergraduate at Yale, was the illustrious William Lyon Phelps (1865-1943), who went on to become essentially the leading Humanities scholar in the United States in his day, and a long-time, enormously admired professor at Yale. Billy Phelps was, in fact, the original prototype of the star professor, whose lectures were so witty, so brilliant, and entertaining, that attendance at his course became known as a not-to-be-missed feature of the Yale undergraduate experience. Phelps was in the first half of the last century what Vincent Scully was when I was an undergraduate.

The Pundits (founded in 1884) doubtless did not originally hold naked parties, but contented themselves with assembling the wittiest and most brilliant members of the Senior Class for a weekly dinner at Mory’s, and participating in a series of elaborate pranks and lampoons intended to deflate pomposity and pretension.

When I was an undergraduate, late 1960s-early 1970s, the Pundits had become moribund and inactive. They seem to have been revived in the late 1970s, during a period in which a reaction to all the leftwing piety and politically correct cant of the Vietnam era set in and Yale undergraduates began once again reveling in undergraduate life, throwing parties, and reviving fraternities and other social organizations.

My Yale informants tell me that it was Yale’s oldest a capella singing group, the Society of Orpheus and Bacchus, founded in 1938 and usually referred to as “The SOBs,” which began throwing regular naked parties during the late 1980s. The Pundits, known earlier for lobster-and-champagne lunches on the steps of Sterling Memorial Library, had some kind of ties to the SOBs and, from them, acquired the custom of the naked party.

I found, via the Yale Daily News, a Hustler article published in 2007, by a-then-sophomore describing the Pundits taking advantage of Ivy League naked parties hitting the national media to spoof the New York Times.

[W]hen the New York Times called, the Pundits weren’t about to cooperate. One of the nation’s most prestigious newspapers wanted to do a story about them, but the tricksters just did what they do best—they fucked with someone’s mind. Assigned to get a firsthand account of a naked party at Yale, Times reporter Rachel Aviv contacted the Pundits. They would later bring her to a real one, but not before throwing a special shindig on her behalf. Mr. E’s eyes light up recounting the story: “Instead of a lot of people drinking and mingling in a dark, well-decorated room, we brought her to a brightly lit library in which just a couple dozen of us were sitting around and playing board games.

After the Taboo, Uno, Scrabble, etc. were concluded, we did some naked charades and then, to top it off, some naked trust falls off a table.” Likewise, Ms. Aviv’s story on the seedy underbelly of an Ivy League school was collapsing faster than Judy Miller could say, “WMDs.” The Times reporter had to be freaking out, but maybe she was just confounded by the intensity of naked charades. The evening’s coup de grâce came when the revelers gathered into groups of three to eight, distributed condoms and left. The bewildered journalist could do nothing but struggle to jot down a few notes and then slide her pants back on. The Pundits, explains one tall and impeccably dressed member, “make sure there’s never a moment when everything’s okay.”

The resulting Rachel Aviv story.

If the Pundits were fucking with the media’s mind back in 2007 on the naked-parties-at-Ivy-League-schools meme, why, I wonder, do not reporters this year worry that those mischievous Pundits may be playing mind games with them again?

Undergraduate binge-drinking, hazing rituals, and naked parties are all ingredients perfectly calculated to make journalists sit up and beg the same way ham affects my basset hound.

It may very well be that this year’s Pundits’ initiation party scandal is just one more of the nation’s leading prankster organizations elaborate satirical spoofs.


William Lyon Phelps (1865-1943), founder of the Pundits.

13 Jan 2011

Why the Left’s Blood Libel Backfired

, ,

In the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin discusses why the left’s attempt to exploit the Tucson tragedy failed: both new alternative media and, for once, professional journalists actually did their job, and even the White House declined to follow the loony left’s lead.

In the end, they only discredited themselves.

Why were the last four days a mini-disaster for the swampland of the left? It boils down to: facts, response and time.

Members of the left pounced first and didn’t much care about the facts. Before it was clear just how crazy Jared Loughner is, the left blogosphere and their more high-minded print compatriots were ready to affix blame on their opponents. As the facts emerged, more quickly and thoroughly than every before in the 24/7, twitter-driven media environment, the narrative fell apart. A chorus on the left claimed causation between Sarah Palin and the killings (and then the amorphous “climate” and the deaths) and didn’t much care for a careful analysis until it became clear their preferred narrative was false. As for the president, he doesn’t buy it at all. He said: “And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud.” (Emphasis added.) Or, as I put it, rhetorical civility and mental illness are discrete problems. And it doesn’t help the liberal line when it turns out this particular lunatic was a-political and didn’t watch news.

So, for my friends on the left: facts count. You can’t spin a narrative and not be expected to be called on the underlying, flawed premise.

The response was unlike anything I have seen since the emergence of the new media. It wasn’t just conservatives that rebutted the left’s narrative, but diligent reporters. We think of “rapid response” as a campaign skill, but in reality that is how pundits, activists, reporters and politicians now react. Because the left’s narrative was so noxious — Sarah Palin or a floating cloud of conservative meanness caused a mass murder — the right was filled with indignation and responded passionately, quickly and effectively. And, meanwhile, in the race to report on the biggest story of the year, the working press furiously disclosed the facts, which, as I noted above, undercut the left’s storyline.

And then there is time. The reason I believe that Obama entirely avoided politics, indeed rebuked the Krugman-Daily Kos narrative, is because he saw the pushing and shoving, read the polls, figured which way the wind was blowing, and steered clear of associating himself with the tone-deaf left. Conversely, because the left couldn’t restrain themselves, they pounced immediately and left a trail of inanity on twitter and websites.

25 Nov 2010

DNA Testing and a Legend of the Roman Origin of a Chinese Village

, , ,


Cai Junnian has green eyes

Newspaper reports are sketchy. They never mention the specifics of the testing or identify the alleged results, and they do not offer a mention of the names of the scientists doing the testing or refer to any papers. They just tell the story.


Telegraph
:

Genetic testing of villagers in a remote part of China has shown that nearly two thirds of their DNA is of Caucasian origin, lending support to the theory that they may be descended from a “lost legion” of Roman soldiers.

Tests found that the DNA of some villagers in Liqian, on the fringes of the Gobi Desert in north-western China, was 56 per cent Caucasian in origin. Many of the villagers have blue or green eyes, long noses and even fair hair, prompting speculation that they have European blood.

A local man, Cai Junnian, is nicknamed Cai Luoma, or “Cai the Roman”, and is one of many villagers convinced that he is descended from the lost legion.

————————-

English.news.cn:

Chinese and Italian anthropologists this week established an Italian studies center at a leading university in northwest China to determine whether some Western-looking Chinese in the area are the descendants of a lost Roman army of ancient times.

Experts at the Italian Studies Center at Lanzhou University in Gansu Province will conduct excavations on a section of the Silk Road, a 7,000-km-long trade route that linked Asia and Europe more than 2,000 years ago, to see if it can be proved a legion of lost Roman soldiers settled in China, said Prof. Yuan Honggeng, head of the center.

“We hope to prove the legend by digging and discovering more evidence of China’s early contact with the Roman Empire,” said Yuan.

Before Marco Polo’s travels to China in the 13th century, the only known contact between the two empires was a visit by Roman diplomats in 166 A.D.

Chinese archeologists were therefore surprised in the 1990s to find the remains of an ancient fortification in Liqian, a remote town in Yongchang County on the edge of the Gobi desert, which was strikingly similar to Roman defence structures.

They were even more astonished to find western-looking people with green, deep-set eyes, long and hooked noses and blonde hair in the area.

Though the villagers said they had never traveled outside the county, they worshipped bulls and their favorite game was similar to the ancient Romans’ bull-fighting dance.

DNA tests in 2005 confirmed some of the villagers were indeed of foreign origin, leading many experts to conclude they are the descendants of the ancient Roman army headed by general Marcus Crassus.

In 53 B.C., Crassus was defeated and beheaded by the Parthians, a tribe occupying what is now Iran, putting an end to Rome’s eastward expansion.

But a 6,000-strong army led by Crassus’s eldest son apparently escaped and were never found again.

————————-

And here we see why. The science actually debunked the legend, but the press published the legend and misreported the DNA test results.

An article in the Journal of Human Genetics 52 (7): 584–91, titled: Testing the hypothesis of an ancient Roman soldier origin of the Liqian people in northwest China: a Y-chromosome perspective. seems to explain that DNA testing proved the exact opposite of the accounts in the newspapers.

ABSTRACT:

The Liqian people in north China are well known because of the controversial hypothesis of an ancient Roman mercenary origin. To test this hypothesis, 227 male individuals representing four Chinese populations were analyzed at 12 short tandem repeat (STR) loci and 12 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP). At the haplogroup levels, 77% Liqian Y chromosomes were restricted to East Asia. Principal component (PC) and multidimensional scaling (MDS) analysis suggests that the Liqians are closely related to Chinese populations, especially Han Chinese populations, whereas they greatly deviate from Central Asian and Western Eurasian populations. Further phylogenetic and admixture analysis confirmed that the Han Chinese contributed greatly to the Liqian gene pool. The Liqian and the Yugur people, regarded as kindred populations with common origins, present an underlying genetic difference in a median-joining network. Overall, a Roman mercenary origin could not be accepted as true according to paternal genetic variation, and the current Liqian population is more likely to be a subgroup of the Chinese majority Han.

This example illustrates why it is inadvisable to base one’s views on Anthropogenic Global Warming or the existence of Bigfoot on newspaper accounts.

05 Aug 2010

Hitchens and Cancer

, , , ,

Christopher Hitchens shares his current near-death experience.

The notorious stage theory of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, whereby one progresses from denial to rage through bargaining to depression and the eventual bliss of “acceptance,” hasn’t so far had much application in my case. In one way, I suppose, I have been “in denial” for some time, knowingly burning the candle at both ends and finding that it often gives a lovely light. But for precisely that reason, I can’t see myself smiting my brow with shock or hear myself whining about how it’s all so unfair: I have been taunting the Reaper into taking a free scythe in my direction and have now succumbed to something so predictable and banal that it bores even me. Rage would be beside the point for the same reason. Instead, I am badly oppressed by a gnawing sense of waste. I had real plans for my next decade and felt I’d worked hard enough to earn it. Will I really not live to see my children married? To watch the World Trade Center rise again? To read—if not indeed write—the obituaries of elderly villains like Henry Kissinger and Joseph Ratzinger? But I understand this sort of non-thinking for what it is: sentimentality and self-pity. Of course my book hit the best-seller list on the day that I received the grimmest of news bulletins, and for that matter the last flight I took as a healthy-feeling person (to a fine, big audience at the Chicago Book Fair) was the one that made me a million-miler on United Airlines, with a lifetime of free upgrades to look forward to. But irony is my business and I just can’t see any ironies here: would it be less poignant to get cancer on the day that my memoirs were remaindered as a box-office turkey, or that I was bounced from a coach-class flight and left on the tarmac? To the dumb question “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not?

Hitch writes wittily and one admires his courage, but I must say I do find myself a bit puzzled by the eagerness of professional literati like Hitchens not merely to share, but to avidly harvest, process, package, and market such close-to-the-bone experiences as a personal fatal illness.

My own natural inclination is to regard broad areas of personal life and experience, particularly this kind, as completely private. I would no more desire to tell an audience of strangers what I thought when I learned I had a fatal condition than I would care to disrobe in public.

It seems certain to me that my attitude must be a residual feature of my primitive, ordinary American, working class origins. Nothing could be more characteristic of membership in the Ivy League, elite world of high achievement, celebrity, and success than rushing, as quickly as possible following any notable experience, to the keyboard and hurrying one’s account of myself and whatever into print.

All experience was once considered useful for the forging of the human character. Today, all experience is simply more fodder for publication.

True members of the community of fashion are always marketing themselves. One can picture Hitchens arguing with Charon about not being permitted to retain his Blackberry and the lack of Wifi access from the River Styx. There would be such a huge opportunity for a major feature on exactly what a chap sees, and everything he experiences, as he is drawn irresistibly in the direction of that bright white light. How frustrating it would be!

Let’s hope Hitchens beats the odds and can go on writing and self-revelating for a long time yet.

19 Jul 2010

Best Headlines of the Day

, , , , ,

Glenn Reynolds: John Galt was unavailable for comment.

———————————
Ed Driscoll: The Road to Perdition is Becoming Increasingly Rather Bumpy.

Your are browsing
the Archives of Never Yet Melted in the 'Journalism' Category.

















Feeds
Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark