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Daily Howler: David Denby, like Clark Hoyt before him, seems to be getting results
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DENBY GETS RESULTS! David Denby, like Clark Hoyt before him, seems to be getting results: // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2009

DENBY GETS RESULTS: To this very day, we haven’t seen anyone do a report on a very basic claim. But so what? In today’s Times, Lady Dowd endorses the claim anyhoo:

DOWD (2/11/09): It wasn’t only that Americans’ already threadbare trust has been ripped by Hank Paulson’s mumbo-jumbo and the Democrats’ bad judgment in accessorizing the stimulus bill with Grammy-level “bling, bling,” as the R.N.C. chairman, Michael Steele, called it.

Forget about the unfortunate imagery; Dowd has again endorsed the claim that Dems festooned the stimulus bill with “Grammy-level” pork. (Last Wednesday, the lady ridiculed “all the provisions [in the bill] that looked like caricatures of Democratic drunken-sailor spending.”) This claim has been repeated endlessly—but is it accurate? As we noted a few days ago, we haven’t seen a single newspaper prepare a report on this point.

Which programs does Steele regard as bling? Is he prepared to use actual numbers—to quantify his claim? We’ve seen no one ask such obvious questions about this ubiquitous talking-point—a talking-point which has driven the public discussion for weeks. But so it goes in the modern “press corps.” In modern press culture, major reporters don’t stoop to examine the most basic claims, the claims which are roiling a nation.

Every voter has heard the claim. Has anyone seen it examined?

But fatuous throw-away bling-bling remarks are par for the course with Queen Dowd. What’s new today is her thoroughly wonkish approach to the Obama administration’s plans for the banks. Good lord! Dowd restricts her comments about Tim Geithner’s body language (it was bad) to just her first few paragraphs. After that, she gets out her pince-nez, rolls up her sleeves and takes her readers into the weeds—after defining “the problem,” of course. Say what? Did Dowd write this?

DOWD (continuing directly): The problem is that the “lost faith” that Geithner talked about in his announcement Tuesday cannot be restored as long as the taxpayers who are funding these wayward banks don’t have more control.

Geithner is not even requiring the banks to lend in return for the $2 trillion his program will try to marshal, mostly by having the Fed print money out of thin air, thereby diluting our money, or borrowing more from China. (When, exactly, can China foreclose on us and start sending us toxic toys again?)

From that point on, Dowd plays the wonkish bank examiner, right to the end of her piece. She quotes an open letter from a bank president; she thunders against the “phony show of populism” other bank honchos will offer today. Her deep sense of purpose was never more clear—leading us to wonder if she might be staging a “phony show of populism” herself! And our analysts quickly presented a question: Not unlike Clark Hoyt before him, could David Denby be getting results?

Readers may recall the precedent. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/2/08, with links to three prior reports.) In June, Clark Hoyt—the Times public editor—devoted an entire column to Dowd’s appalling work-to-date concerning Campaign 2008. In particular, Hoyt savaged the fabulous columnist for “the relentless nature of her gender-laden assault on [Hillary] Clinton.” In his review, Hoyt focused on Dowd’s gender-trashing of Clinton. But early on, he also noted her childish obsession with girlie-man Obama. “She often refers to Barack Obama as ‘Obambi’ and has said he has a ‘feminine’ management style,” Hoyt noted, in paragraph 4.

Clark Hoyt’s manly “spanking” of Dowd ran 1200 words. At that length, no one could really do justice to the breadth of Dowd’s inanity, or to her throwback gender obsessions—but Hoyt did exceptionally well. And just like that, Clark Hoyt got results! Instantly, Dowd began to churn out columns in which she blamed all others on earth for the various types of insults she herself had first engineered. Suddenly, Karl Rove was at fault for trashing Obama, as were various unnamed reporters. Soon, she was even defending Michelle Obama as “a strong professional woman”—defending her against the snarky, gender-based attacks Dowd herself had so clearly pioneered.

Just like that, Clark Hoyt got results. Is Denby now getting them too?

You see, Denby, in his new book Snark, has assailed Dowd’s world-class frivolity. Like Hoyt, Denby notes the way the lady “sexualizes everything and genderizes everything;” he also notes the way she trashed Candidate Gore, even saying (quite correctly) that Dowd’s “really awful” treatment of Gore helped decide Campaign 2000. (“Al Gore’s defeat was snark’s greatest victory and snark’s greatest disaster.”) But beyond that, Denby zeroes in on Dowd’s refusal to talk about actual matters of substance. He even said it live from New York on Charlie Rose, before his suitably horrified host hustled him toward other topics:

DENBY (2/3/09): Maureen Dowd, who makes fun of people’s appearance and affect and manner and so on, I don’t see any political idea at all of what the government should be doing, what the point of government is, what the point of politics is. It’s all about ambition and sham.

People! That was live from New York, on PBS! All the best people were watching! And sure enough, right on cue, Dowd has staged a real wonkfest today. Today, she’s eager to let us see “what the government should be doing, what the point of government is.” From today’s column, any damn fool can see how wrong vile Denby was!

In today’s piece, Dowd forgets to say if Geithner is behaving more like a man or a woman. She barely mentions his body language (though it was bad). His hair and his clothing occasion no comment; no insights are gleaned from the shape of his glasses. Instead, Dowd puts faithful readers to sleep with a piece which features her street-fighting views about—if we may borrow a phrase—“what the government should be doing.”

Much like all those famous New Nixons, a New Improved Dowd has been rolled out today. The analysts spat-took, then asked a good question. Not unlike Clark Hoyt in June, is Denby getting results?

A continuing point: In the past few weeks, a major New Yorker has savaged Dowd’s work, including her treatment of a string of Big Dems. He has made an obvious, but rarely mentioned, assertion: The snarky work of “journalists” like Dowd decided the disastrous Campaign 2000. But: Have you seen any liberals on the web call attention to what has been said? Have you seen Denby asked to repeat his accurate statements on your “progressive” TV programs?

Olbermann wastes oodles of time each night with his utterly stupid diversions. Our guess? Especially since he works for Clinton/Gore-trashing MSNBC, the gentleman has five millions reasons, this year alone, to stay away from the topics Denby has raised. He feeds us sweet piffle about O’Reilly—and keeps us in the dark.

Are we more like men or women when our big heroes play us like that?

House of style: At the Post, Dana Milbank—Dowd in short pants—extends his stylistic explorations today. Is it time to call the people from Guinness? The gent may have set a new world record, using a single phrase—“stress test”— in eleven consecutive paragraphs. (Paragraphs 3 through 13. Don’t write to say that’s just ten.) When he isn’t entertaining us with “stress test,” Milbank offers good solid fun with variants (“stress level,” for instance).

Also note his ironic observation about “liquidity problems” and bottles of water. Yes, it’s meant as a joke.

Near the end, Milbank returns to his point of departure, using “stress test” in four straight grafs (20-23). Kierkegaard wrote the book (on) Repetition. In a very difficult economy, Milbank is making it work.

Early brush with greatness: We’re often asked if the rumor is true. Is it true that we took Terry Malick’s legendary 1968-69 Kierkegaard/Heidegger seminar, the one at MIT? (Just click here. It’s mentioned.) Well yes, it’s true, and we dined with the gentleman each (Thursday?) night as he collected his thoughts for the evening’s (three-hour) lecture. McNees and F were both present.

It must have been something, we’re often told. For that, we’ve developed a small little joke (this one’s for Denby): If you think Terry’s films can be slow, you should have been there for his Kierkegaard lectures!

In point of fact, Malick’s films have always been superb. And when it comes to those Kierkegaard lectures, we’ll hotly insist that it wasn’t his fault. Have you ever skimmed through the actual books? Aside from reading Milbank’s works, have you ever tried Repetition?