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April 30, 2018

Jake Tapper's Novel is a Horrible, Amateurish Mary Sue Imitation of Dan Brown

Before getting to the book -- did you read on Friday my post about Jake Tapper's incessant Reputation Operations conducted via DM?

Buzzfeed Ben wrote about that on Saturday, I think. If you don't believe me, believe Buzzfeed Ben, whose credibility is, obviously, beyond contestation.

[O]ne of the great secrets to [Jake Tapper's] professional success is his all-out defense of his reputation on all fronts at all times: Before the Tappergram about the dossier, I'd heard from him more commonly about stray tweets from BuzzFeed staffers about everything from the poop cruise (his own coverage, he wanted to point out, had been serious and policy-focused) to the usual arguments over ratings. No tweet about Tapper, not even a subtweet, falls without Tapper's notice.

I can attest. Tired of Jake Tapper's never-ending DMs, I stopped naming him in emails, and would only talk about CNN, or name him without the @-. Just asking why they weren't covering something, or the like.

You can't escape the all-seeing Twitter-addicted eye of Jake Tapper that way.

"I don't have time for your high school drama club," he said recently in his fourth rapid-fire tweet to a BuzzFeed News reporter who had botched, then quickly corrected, a Tapper quote.

Spoiler alert: He does in fact have the time -- and lots of it -- for any high school drama club, particularly the ones featuring the dramatic conflicts he's penned himself.

Perhaps the best evidence of how fiercely Tapper protects his reputation is that -- despite his irascibility being a kind of Washington legend -- I can't find any reference to it in a series of recent glowing profiles of the CNN anchor. These profiles tend to feature a relaxed-looking Tapper, surrounded by red, white, and blue memorabilia. Perhaps his feet are up on his desk. Tapper’s friends and acquaintances were rather surprised to learn, from the lede of a recent Times profile, that "Jake Tapper doesn't seem to get rattled easily."

Spoiler alert: Yes, he does get rattled easily, and often, and he will devote hours to infesting your DMs with Jake Tapper Propaganda.

He's like the North Korean Ministry of Information About the Amazing Awesomeness of Jake Tapper.

Some of Tapper's colleagues and Twitter enemies find the heated private responses to criticism over the top, a sign that he takes himself too seriously.

As the friend who pointed this article said, Buzzfeed Ben then cucks out and says "Tapper should take himself seriously" because he's like so awesome and then gives his book a very positive review, allowing that it is "trashy," but then qualifying that by saying its trashiness is "necessar[y]."

No, this level of trashiness is not necessary at all.

Ben Domenech then really piqued my interest:


I'm going to be using the term "Mary Sue." For those who don't know, a "Mary Sue" is a thinly-veiled idealized, heroic version of the author herself (this started as, and remains mostly, a female fan fic thing) inserted into a work.

"Rey" in Star Wars is widely viewed as a Mary Sue of producer Kathleen "The Force is Female" Kennedy, for example. She's good at everything, she has no flaws or struggles, and the movies just end up being Rey, or should I say Kathleen Kennedy, Wins At Everything Without Even Hardly Trying.

Here are some choice quotes from the Washington Post review, which I would say is just professional jealousy at someone doing what all media types secretly long to do but never actually get around to (write a novel), but, having read part of this piece of shit, I have to say it's just factual reportage.

Jake Tapper, the tenacious anchor of CNN, the merciless slayer of alternative facts, the dogged deflator of political egos...

...the indefatigeable Energizer Bunny of Direct Message Nastygrams...


...has written a novel about corruption in Washington. In the scandal-a-day Trump era of President Trump, the news doesn't leave much room for fiction about our government’s debauchery, but Tapper still heaps plenty of scorn on the king of chaos:

"He's impossible to ignore. He’s become this . . . planet . . . blocking the sun. And whatever points he makes that have validity are blotted out by his indecency and his lies and his predilection to smear."

"Boy that's some sophomorically overwrought prose," the literal color purple just emailed me to say.

He's talking about Joe McCarthy -- the book is set in the Wikipedia entry for the year 1954; his "research" into the era consists of stuff you'd either know off the top of your head (Playboy's first issue featured a naked Marilyn Monroe! The DC baseball franchise of that era was called The Senators!).

After the opening, which the reviewer finds promising, and which I really liked the first time I saw it in Brian DePalma's Blow Out --

But no sooner does Charlie climb out of that ditch than this novel careens into another one and stays there, spinning its wheels for 150 pages of leaden back story before we finally arrive again at that fateful morning crash. The only Red threat here is the danger of running out of Red Bull.

Perhaps all this exposition stems from the good journalist's determination to provide context, but the whole enterprise labors under a heavy burden of explainism, accentuated by the novel's flat, irony-free prose. Every senator, representative, lobbyist and aide -- including many historical figures --arrives with a resume that gets dutifully unfurled over the ever-dwindling action, mostly meetings, hearings and poker games. All historical references are carefully elucidated in the same teacherly tone, from the House Un-American Activities Committee to the Senate hearings on juvenile delinquency to the development of photocopies and pesticides.

...

Tapper’s 33-year-old protagonist, Charlie, is a World War II hero as attractive and flavor-free as a genetically engineered tomato. "Tall and broad-shouldered with piercing blue eyes" -- the best kind -- Charlie is a...

....Mary Sue idealized version of the author inserted into the book in the way a teenager would insert himself into Star Trek fan fic?

Dan Brown laughs at this the-main-character-is-a-super-handsome-version-of-myself-with-broad-shoulders-and-a-girthy-penis childishness.

... former Columbia University professor who published a best-selling work of history before being appointed by the governor of New York to fill an empty congressional seat. (That would require changing the U.S. Constitution, but if we get bogged down in technicalities like that, we'll never finish.)

Tapper the political expert didn't know Representatives may not be appointed, as Senators can be, but can only be elected?

His Brooks Brothers suit fits so well you can hardly see the Boy Scout uniform underneath. "You're good," his father tells him. "And even more than that, you believe in goodness."

Dan Brown just emailed me -- "Do you believe this load?"

...

As the country's future hangs in the balance, Tapper dutifully attends to the clashing racial attitudes of the era. Charlie, precocious as ever, possesses all the enlightened attitudes of a Brooklyn barista in 2018. Ethnic slurs nauseate him. He knows those Confederate statues should come down. And if someone would knit him a pussyhat, he would wear it proudly. His pregnant wife is, of course, a gorgeous zoologist who studies ponies.

I’m not complaining. "The Hellfire Club" is most enjoyable when it’s most groan-worthy. There's a particularly ludicrous scene in which political opponents confront each other with competing dossiers of compromising photos. The gun-toting thugs chuckle like Batman villains. In Charlie's most valiant scene, he picks up his wife and the horse she rode in on!

She's a famous ponyologist, as Ben Domenech points out, so this is all justified by the writerly technique of stupid foreshadowing.

The Federalist is also laughing.

By the way, this author also notes the Wikipedia-level research. But I noted that myself, immediately when I began reading it on Saturday night. He is constantly attempting to "authenticate" his novel by adding in "period-specific details," but all of these details are either 1, off the top of your head stuff that everyone already knows or 2, obviously culled from lists you'd find on the internet, like "stage plays and movies of 1954."

Charlie and his wife Margaret go out for a night on the town and, what do you know, the theater lobby they find themselves in is full of historically portentous people. There’s Vice President Nixon and his wife, Patricia! There’s Jack and Jackie! There’s newspaper columnist Joe Alsop! Hey, across the room is Robert Kennedy deep in conversation with Joe McCarthy! Each notable is accompanied by at least one obligatory expository lump of prose only vaguely tied to the current setting. The Kennedys get double and triple lumps, of course, such as:
Charlie's mother somewhat secretly worshiped the Kennedy brood. His father, Winston, a powerful Republican lawyer in Manhattan, had a more skeptical view of Ambassador Joseph Kennedy and, though the transitive property, his scions. He faulted the Kennedy patriarch for wanting to appease Hitler. For fun, he'd also bad-mouth him for having made his fortune in bootlegging during Prohibition.

Who needs Wikipedia? It is also helpful that people tend to introduce themselves with their full names, sometimes even with middle initials. At times one feels trapped in a creepy liberal version of the Hall of Presidents, where Jackie Kennedy quotes Alan Seegers' "I Have a Rendezvous with Death" off the cuff, and McCarthy is perpetually pounding a finger on his list of 205 communists in the State Department.

Now, I downloaded the sample, and was enthralled by the sheer wretchedness of it, and realized I couldn't highlight especially terrible passages in the sample -- so I bought it. I can highlight bad stuff in the purchased book.

No one's asking for this, but I'm doing it anyway -- periodically, at night, maybe sometimes after the ONT, I'll be quoting for you the worst parts of Jake Tapper's book, "Wikipedia: The Novel."

I'm not suggesting you buy or read it. I'm suggesting the opposite. I'll read it so you don't have to.

I'm a few chapters in and it's deliriously terrible. It's frankly a professional embarrassment which will damage his image as a "serious" person.

I don't promise to finish it. In fact, I'm sure I'll get bored by it, even reading it as a goof. There's only so many times you can take satisfaction in pointing out, for example, that one of Tapper's go-to descriptors for any older man in the book is "powerful." He has his thesaurus handy for lots of tasteless word-substitutions, and yet, he can't seem to find any other words for "powerful."

And believe me-- this book is just plain full of powerful men conspiring against Charlie Martyr. Oops, I mean Charlie Marder.

Oh fuck it, I mean Jake Tapper.

Anyway, I'll start putting up some fun stuff for your enjoyment. No schedule; I'll just do it when I need a laugh.


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posted by Ace of Spades at 03:50 PM

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