more fun ...

I’m going to do something different …

I planned to pick through the recent controversies at the WAPO over the ombudsman’s remarks about Abramoff, and the response to those remarks by readers and blogs, and the rather astonishing response in turn by various WAPO appartchiks. But then I thought, that’s no fun.

The point is to try to get a half nelson on the growth of media criticism as a form of politics. LI wanted to use the article by Singh, et al, to complicate, complexify, lye and dye the matter of media, where at one time we made our bread and where, even now, we keep the sly hand in – today, for instance, we should have something in the Austin Statesman. Or is that going to be next week? And something in the Raleigh News and Observer.

But that seems all so boring. Instead, why not segregate out that stuff from Singh et al (and yes, we do like writing Singh et al – it’s a Here Comes Everybody moment) about the constituencies and then apply it to a paper we know more about than WAPO – La vie francaise, the fictional paper in Maupassant’s Bel-Ami. While Maupassant, who worked for Gil Blas and a number of papers, backed away from claiming that La vie francaise represented any particular paper – it was, instead, he wrote, an “agency for political cheats and stock market skimmers” – we think that the paper, with its portraits, its strong editorial positions creating the framework in which stories appear, its lazy, crooked, arrogant journalists paying off concierge to get tips about celebrities – we think that it is exactly the type of thing that is hidden under the ultramodern Teflon sheathing of contemporary journalism, with – in WAPO’s case – the role of Madame Forestier, the wife of the editor of the VF, being played by Sally Quinn, the wife of the former editor of WAPO, Ben Bradlee. And just as Madame Forestier is smart enough to ghostwrite the articles glorifying the French colonial effort, Quinn was smart enough and slimy enough to glorify Chalabi and thereby put him into play as our kind of crook, our kind of ruthless subaltern that would steal his nation blind and send the proceeds to the US, in the corridors of D.C. power.

Next post … or the next after that – will continue this theme.