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June 15, 2004

Go Read Kaus

Kaus' postings today are all compulsively readable.

One thing I don't like about the amateur leftist newsletter Slate is the artificial and strained attitude they force into their pieces. Most magazines, even amateur leftist newsletters, strive for some sort of defining style; Slate has decided its defining pose is Revenge of the Dweeb. Its tone is smug and nasty and stinks of adolescent revenge fantasy, i.e., One day I'll have a cool job at a cool magazine and I'll get back at all those jocks and swells who called me "gaywad."

If Maureen Dowd's pose is the feathered-earring-wearing cool-chick-who's-also-clever shooting spitballs at the teacher's back, Slate's collective pose is the arrogant, despised nastygeek picking his nose and wiping it on your sandwich when you're not looking and then writing about this great triumph in his Dream Journal.

Now, Mickey Kaus sort of has that smug tone, too. But he actually manages what the nastygeeks never can, which is remaining charming while sticking in the dagger.

Kaus tears apart that idiotic New York Times puff-piece so relentlessly promoted by Drudge last week. He finds that there's absolutely nothing of value in the whole piece:

Does Even John Kerry Deserve Jodi Wilgoren? Jodi Wilgoren's Sunday front page NYT piece goes beneath the surface to uncover the

"many facets of Mr. Kerry's style and personality that [are] all but invisible to most voters in this era of stage-managed politics, where authentic insights into the people who would be president are precious few."

There's a self-puffing, expectations-raising billboard graf! And what does Wilgoren come up with after her "observations on the campaign trail over several months, combined with interviews with politicians and aides who spend time by his side"? Kerry polishes his speeches. He talks a lot on the phone. He went to an aide's wedding! Wow! That's journalistic gold. ...

P.P.S.: I forgot--Kerry also bowled an orange down the aisle of his campaign plane! Gee, no candidate's ever done that before. When a reporter resorts to describing the "orange bowling" ritual that's been going on since at least the Hart campaign of 1984, it's a sure sign of desperation. .

...For that matter, Wilgoren doesn't tell us any of the "multisyllabic uppercrust" phrasings she says Kerry uses, or any of the "pop culture" he's "up on," or any of the "unfamiliar words" a campaign intern had to look up (as his "main responsibility"--another "authentic" detail that reeks of B.S.). Doesn't the NYT have an editor with the power to write "Example, pls"?]

What Tim Noah and the rest of the nonentities at Slate don't realize is that sarcasm has its time and place; not every fucking sentence you write either should or can drip with sarcasm. They attempt to disguise the fact that they have nothing interesting to say by writing in an "edgy," "highly-attitudinal" style.

It's like listening to Richard Belzer deliver a eulogy to Reagan. "Yeah, right. Reagan. Star Wars. Right. Yeah. Ronny Ray-Gun. Right. Ketchup is a vegatable. Yeah, right. Oswald shot Kennedy. Yeah, right."

There's a time and place for sarcasm, and Kaus, unlike the rest of the useless crew at Slate, seem to understand that restriction.

Anyway, back to the article Kaus disses. I love that she fills the piece with so many general claims, and yet doesn't provide the specific, tangible examples that would make her generalities come alive. Specifics are the lifeblood of reporting, but apparently this reporter didn't get that memo. As Kevin Pollack might say, she was absent the day they taught journalism at j-school.

Oh wait-- she did nail down one specific. There is that hi-larious orange-bowling incident.

Great takedown. The NYT is, of course, the greatest newspaper in the history of the world.

Now, if only Kaus could cure his bad case of the slammies, and knock it off with that "isn't this cute?" back-and-forth repartee with his editor... [But don't you find that the editorial banter is part of his defining style? -- ed. No, I don't. I think it's a distraction. And, by the way, who the fuck are you? I don't have an editor. Oh, right, sorry.-- ed.]

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posted by Ace at 03:03 AM

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