Sunday, July 05, 2015


Maureen Dowd got The New York Times to send her to Paris so she could write an unenlightening column about that city's Uber protests, a column that could easily have been written stateside with a few Web searches and a transatlantic phone call or two. (Dowd traveled to the Quai d'Orsay and interviewed a Foreign Ministry spokesman who said -- I hope you're sitting down for this earth-shattering news -- that he really likes America, a country he think is beautiful and whose residents he found very friendly when he visited. He doesn't like our gun laws, though. Hard-hitting, insightful journalism! Well worth the plane and hotel expenditures!)

Forgive the sarcasm, but I can't count the number of times I've read something similar in American journalists' interviews of French officials. But before Dowd gets to that, she gives us this, which is the journalistic equivalent of traveling to Paris and choosing to dine at McDonald's:
PARIS -- THE turquoise tranquillity of the Côtes d’Azur was rocked a couple of times during the Cannes Lions Festival, the advertising world’s rosé-soaked answer to the Cannes Film Festival.

Al Gore snubbed Monica Lewinsky. Lewinsky, who was giving a speech for Ogilvy & Mather about how she became “patient zero” in the cyberbullying epidemic, was slated to sit in a V.I.P. box with the former vice president, who got an award for being a good brand.

But her invite got yanked.

The contretemps was a reminder that Gore’s prissy attitude toward l’affaire Monica helped cost him the election, because he was so angry at Bill Clinton that he leashed the Big Dog, curtailing the president’s campaigning, even in the South. If Al had been less eager to put baby in a corner, there would have been no phony action on Iraq and plenty of action on melting glaciers.

Monica’s main bullies were not of the cyber variety. The Internet was just getting up and running. Her chief bullies were flesh and blood, a raffish president and feminist first lady who are now vying to be a feminist president and raffish first lad. They’re the ones who tried to paint her as a “narcissistic looney toon,” as Hillary put it to her friend Diane Blair.

Sidney Blumenthal, Hillary’s Doberman and email correspondent, led the sliming of Monica as a fantasist and stalker. Hillary’s friends do not regard Monica as a victim, but a predator. They think she let herself in for trouble when she took up with a married president who was a magnet for right-wing bullies.
Okay, a few things. Lewinsky wasn't a "predator," but she did pursue the affair, as a lawful adult, albeit a young, naive one. Do Hillary Clinton's friends believe Lewinsky "let herself in for trouble when she took up with a married president who was a magnet for right-wing bullies"? Well, they're right. I'm not saying she deserved what she got, but she took a foolish risk.

And if we're arguing about who "Monica's main bullies" were, are our choices really limited to the digital media and the Clinton camp? How have, um, the Republicans disappeared from this contest? The GOP Congress that pursued impeachment to the bitter end? The so-called friends who used Lewinsky to get to Clinton? And, of course, the inquisitor, Ken Starr?

All this leads me to ask: Why is Maureen Dowd still at The New York Times? Why hasn't she joined the likes of Dick Morris and Judy Miller and become the regular Fox contributor she's obviously qualified to be?

Her fixation on the Lewinsky scandal would make her perfectly at home in Wingnuttia, where old scandals are endlessly rehashed and grievances are nurtured for decades. What's more, Dowd's specific focus on the moment when Team Clinton tried to tarnish Lewinsky's reputation is strikingly similar to the right's obsession with the relatively brief timespan when Hillary Clinton's State Department downplayed the true nature of the Benghazi attack. In both cases, it just doesn't matter. The truth about Benghazi became obvious very quickly in the fall of 2012, and was soon acknowledged by the administration. In early 1998, the public wasn't fooled by Bill Clinton's denial of an affair, and didn't care -- a CBS poll taken within weeks of the Lewinsky revelations, in February 1998, showed that nearly three in four respondents thought Clinton was hiding something, and yet he had a 66% job approval rating. Seventeen years after the fact, Dowd is still fixated on a coverup, that didn't work.

That's the kind of never-say-die thinking that would make her an ideal right-wing pundit.

But we're stuck with her, because the Times not only continues to back her but presumably foots the bill when she wants to jet off to Paris. Also, she retains a vestigial anti-GOP (or at least anti-Bush) skepticism, which might manifest itself between now and November 2016 if she can overcome her Clintonophobe monomania.

Give it up, MoDo. Go over to the dark side. We're sick of you here.


humanistcafe said...

The spoiled little snark laureate has spent the better part of 6 years 'feminizing' and mocking Barack Obama while he's been kicking ass and taking names. Miss the mark, Maureen?

She's a bitter spinster whose perceived slights color her ever less colorful prose. By now, she's worse than a bore. She's a boorish bore.

Maybe we can put her out to a nice pasture in Nice. She seems to enjoy France.

peabody nobis said...

Whaddaya mean "trade"her to the wingnuts? They already HAVE her...
And I can appreciate that the Times might want to ship her out of town, but sending her to FRANCE? Small wonder that the newspaper business is in dire straits, with business decisions such as this one...

Professor Chaos said...

I had no idea Maureen Dowd was ever thought to have been on "our side." I always think of her as a conservative, albeit not as far right as the Foxies

Pops said...

Steve Le Dowd is the Times chic. Not going anywhere still she can be infuriating. Hey you get Brooks. Douthat and Dowd BUT also Krugman, Gayle Collins, Haberman and 1300 outstanding reporters. You cant have it all BUT good try,

Yastreblyansky said...

Professor C, she came on as a liberal and actually did speak pretty harshly about Bush-Cheney and Iraq, though always for stupid-Dowd reasons involving her own psychosexual obsessions (I think young George was trying to castrate old George or something) and never about actual issues, to which she is a hostile stranger. I got her number long before Lewinskygate, when she was badmouthing Hillary Clinton for talking about economic issues (microlending in South Asia) because it was so boring ("My eyes glaze over").

Unknown said...

Does NMMNG have an idealized image of TNYT? It's not like NM to be idealized about establishment icons, but in the mysterious case of TNYT and MoDo, I think so.

TNYT has some nice reading assets, but Carr's dead and the krgthulu and Overbye and the rest of that ilk are NOT there to express publisher's policies or humanist standards, but rather to keep the ship - skippered by Chipper or Prepp or WTF hemophiliac blueblood name A Ochs XXIII goes by - afloat.

They also got Douthat - explain that. They got Brooks - destructive as any denizen of any wingnut wank tank. They featured Sorkin, a 100% Everything Is Awesome Lord Business creep. They had Miller and other frauds but also Bai, who apparently left because he found sentences too taxing a standard. They keep giving more billing to Bruni, a no-talent sychophant who failed as a FOOD critic FCOL and otherwise can't be explained other than possibly by his fathomless capacity for complementary fluffjobs to the Rich & Famous.

Apparently the internal squints at TNYT point to numbers they SAY support the notion that people read MoDo. I expect those numbers aren't substantially different than for re-runs of hackneyed Dagwood and Hi&Lois re-castings, but nonetheless: they SAY Modo's got some sort of 'following', that 'sells papers' (whatever TF that means in the Internet Age).

Me? I think MoDo fills the insatiable OpEd demand for Hampstead & Wall Street rimjobs that Bruni's off too busy giving door-to-door to attend to.

Victor said...

MoDo feminizes male Democrats, and make female ones sound overly masculine.

So, if Hillary gets the nomination, MoDo can do what she does best - I think she learned it from Bobo - pull out an old column, blow-of the dust, and stick in Hillary's name, and make fun of her earth-toned pant-suits like she did Gore's suits.
And FSM forbid Hillary takes up wind-surfing! Thankfully, I think she too smart and too old to try.

MoDo was good at taking down W and Cheney, but the rest of the time she's been on the Op-ed page, she's been less than useless as a "liberal" columnist.
She's great, though, if you like the conservative POV.

Aunt Snow said...

Um, why should Al Gore "host" Monica Lewinsky to anything? Did they even know one another? (No, I don't believe all members of the administration, including interns, were acquainted with one another - just like I'm not acquainted with 80% of the people who work at my company.)

What does she have to do with him? Who presumed to grant her an "invite" to be rescinded?

petrilli said...

Lewinsky is and has always been playing way out of her league. Forgivable as a naive young intern. At age 41, not so much. She doesn't seem to have learned much these past 20 years.

She could have quietly gone to nursing school, or one of the trades. Maybe get a city job somewhere back home and settle down for a pleasant average life that would fit her talent. No.

Here she is. On tour, with O&M, leveraging the most famous blowjob in Western Civilization, expecting to sit in the VIP box with world class talented elites at the Cannes Addies. Of course, Maureen approves admiringly. It annoys the Clintons.

David Ogilvy wouldn't have tolerated this bullshit for a second.

This time, Lewinsky deserves every line of snark and scorn she gets.

W. Hackwhacker said...

MoDo is being too modest in not acknowledging her role in bringing Al Gore down and giving us Dumbya (for example, she memorably psychobabbled in 1999 that Gore was so "feminized" he was "practically lactating"- har har). And as far as we remember, it wasn't Gore's "prissy attitude toward l'affaire Monica" that cost him the election (he won by over 500,000 votes); it was the Supreme Court. But, hey, that was Gore's fault, too, right?

Kathleen O'Neill said...

Ah. St. MoDo. Patron Saint of The Perpetually Petulant.

I blame the Democratic Party for standing her up on prom night.

Belvoir said...

To Petrilli above, writing vile and obnoxious things about Monica Lewinsky, shame on you. I cannot believe or imagine what the hammer of of the entire US media, sniggering and salacious, must feel like when it comes down on you and destroys your life. Monica Lewinsky committed no crime. But it was torches and pitchforks and a witch-hunt against her, when she was just 22. Imagine that sledgehammer of scrutiny and scorn coming down on you, or someone you love. It was a rotten and brutal thing.

It's a grotesque part of our recent history that Monica Lewinsky was excoriated and burnt at the stake by our corporate media, in the service of a Republican Party looking to destroy Bill Clinton. A young woman's life was shredded, she was cast in the most horrible way.

Monica's an anti-bullying activist now, and looking great I might add. She survived, but what was done to her back then was so viciously unfair.

petrilli said...

Name one vile obnoxious thing in my post. My criticism of what she is doing is valid. She's a big girl now and she can take it. The anti-bullying angle. A fig leaf for getting back into the big time. Why the skeptical take? The O&M connection. As far as when the hammer of big media comes down on me as you say? If I'm young and innocent as she was, you forgive and defend me. If I come back with my publicist 20 years later because of a marketing opportunity like for instance, the Clinton campaign presents to her? And stir up the hornets nest all over again? Well, I admire your fierceness and passion Belvoir, but on this one, I think you're a rube.

The New York Crank said...

Uh, Mr. Petrilli, I knew David Ogilvy. Worked for him for quite a few years. Learned from him in his training class for young copywriters. Chatted with him now and then. Presented advertising to him on several occasions. Got complimented by him on rare occasions.

I don't presume to speak with absolute certainty about what the dead would do if they were alive today. However, the chances are David Ogilvy might have liked Monica Lewinsky. He certainly would have behaved charmingly toward her. He had a sense of humor. He liked people who kept at it until they overcame the odds. And he could be charmed by a pretty face.

As for all those hornets, they're not being stirred by Monica Lewinsky. It's kvetchers like you who are beating on their nests with sticks.

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank

petrilli said...

To Mr. Crank and Belvoir. I appreciate your replies and thinking them through, wish that I could delete the last line of my post. I was wrong to put it in there.

Unknown said...

To petrilli and Mr. Crank and Belvois, it was a blow job, fcol, the only types truly upset about it are some uptight sweaty white dudes who either never got any or always gave, and all the rest have faked it from the get-go.

petrilli said...

Thanks for clearing that up, unknown.

Cirze said...

And evidently a blow job the whole country will not ever be allowed to forget its participation in.

She is a truly ugly American.

In the Lederer sense.

jeffreydj said...

Ah, hand-wringing from Steve over Maureen Dowd. As if he has only now learned of her decades-long obsession with the Clintons. Oh sure, she has her moments of ludicrousness, such as the column he mentions. And I got a rueful laugh out of her misadventures in the newly legal cannabis culture in Colorado. But as a Times columnist, she has been a reliably liberal voice, and has handed grief to political fools aplenty.

Except when the topic of the Clintons comes up. Then (and I want to say, only then, but that would require reading her consistently, which I have not) the political probity goes out the window with her. My resultant ethos is to listen to Dowd, and enjoy her insights - except when she mentions Bill 'n Hill, at which point I skip the column. Try it - you'll find that when she can be kept away from her bete noire, she becomes a fairly reliable voice for progressives.