Thursday, March 03, 2005

Tina Brown compares Martha Stewart to Martin Luther King: No kidding. In this morning's Washington Post, she writes:

"It used to be that going to jail gave a positive aura only to moral gurus, spiritual leaders, and revolutionaries... Martin Luther King Jr. and the pantheon of civil rights heroes... Now it's vanquished CEOs and burned-out celebrities getting the martyr's halo. The new century's `Letter From Birmingham Jail' could be from Paris Hilton, via her T-Mobile Sidekick."

For those who don't know, Martin Luther King did not do a stint in the Birmingham jail for insider trading...

What lies behind this monstrosity of a column? Our grade of B in our freshman Pscyh 101 class suggests.... projection.

The wondrous Ms. Brown writes of Martha Stewart: "The level of venom Martha experienced was all about how she made every other mini-player in the media firmament feel like a wallflower. Status rage is always the ugliest."

The "mini-players" in Ms. Brown's own "media firmament" actually included Pulitzer Prize winners, and New Yorker staff writers, cartoonists, and editors, who she dispatched at whim
if their stories did not provoke enough discussion at the Hamptons cocktail parties she attended, or otherwise were not generating enough "buzz" among her "set." Writers like Ray Bonner, now of the New York Times, Arthur Lubow, James Lardner, Jr., Elizabeth Drew (all of whom she fired) were more than "mini-players" during Ms. Brown's own "media firmament." Ms. Brown was famously paranoid that much of the bad press about her was the result of inside information fed the press from writers and editors who had felt mistreated by her. Most of them, contrary to Ms. Brown's belief that they were "mini-players" whowere seeking revenge acted gracefully when shown the door, either too humiliated to say anything, or simply grateful for the opportunity to write for the New Yorker in the first place.

Other propective "mini-players" in Ms. Brown's own "media firmament", perhaps, are the Weinstein brothers, who fronted her more than $50 million for Talk, and with whom she has privately remained embittered towards, when they pulled the plug on her magazine.

If our theory about her projecting her own woes and person onto those of Martha Stewart, that would mean Ms. Brown... has compared herself to Martin Luther King. Yuk.

Len Downie, the Washington Post's editor, who signed up Ms. Brown to run her column, because the Post lacked a "New York edge" and a "New York presence", has hardly succeeded in acheiving his goal by running columns like these. He has only given Tina Brown an opportunity to appear frivolous regularly on his newspaper's pages (as opposed to appearing frivolous elsewhere), in the process making himself appear the same by refusing to have anyone edit her or kill a column on occasion.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Boss is Back!... and it's not Bruce Springsteen. It has turned into a spring ritual for baseball fans: We must endure George Steinbrenner for yet another season.

His $140 million player, Jason Giambi, it turns out, had been caught doing steroids, before and since he became a Yankee. And someone (never Steinbrenner) has to be to blame. One would think perhaps some blame lies with Giambi. Not according to Steinbrenner, who when asked whether Giambi should apologize, simply retorted: "I figure that's his business." Or perhaps the Yankees front office shoulders some blame. Or perhaps everyone else in baseball who turned a blind eye to the use of steroids in baseball because it was in everyone's pecuniary interest to do so. Or perhaps... perhaps... even the man at the very top... George Steinbrenner.

Instead, the villain, as Steinbrenner sees it, is Giambi's agent, Arn Tellem. Giambi was to engage in a tearful apology and confessional, worthy of Oprah, at Yankee stadium on Feb. 10. The issues of which Yankee players used steroids, Giambi's future with the team, etc., the fact that it is the Boston Red Sox rather than the New York Yankees who are the world's reigning champions, that it was the Mets instead of the Yankees who got Pedro, were then simply going to fade with time. To Steinbrenner, steroids is nothing more than a public relations matter, like any other, that with the proper spin can be made to go away.

When Tellem wouldn't let Giambi answer specific questions about his steroid use, because of the still ongoing federal grand jury investigation of the matter, Steinbrenner flew into a public rage at the agent, full of profanity. We don't know exactly what that obscenity was, because the New York Times declined to publish it. The newspaper of record will only supplement Steinbrenner's comments regarding Tellem by saying that he also mumbled: "He's no good."

On the upside, it is good to see someone being held responsible for the steroid scandal, even if it is just a player's agent.

Update, Feb. 28, 2:37 A.M: The New York Times still won't tell us what word or words of profanity Steinbrenner used. But Murray Chass, a baseball columnist for the Times brings us closer to the... truth, writing that Steinbrenner "used a four-letter verb Saturday in speaking to reporters about Arn Tellem."

I would like to say that clears up the matter, but if one uses that particular word to describe a person, is it not then, in its usage, a noun?