Saturday, October 22, 2005

Interesting stuff about Her Nibs from Maureen Dowd in today's New York Times (read the complete column free here):

I've always liked Judy Miller. I have often wondered what Waugh or Thackeray would have made of the Fourth Estate's Becky Sharp.

The traits she has that drive many reporters at The Times crazy - her tropism toward powerful men, her frantic intensity and her peculiar mixture of hard work and hauteur - have never bothered me. I enjoy operatic types.

Once when I was covering the first Bush White House, I was in The Times's seat in the crowded White House press room, listening to an administration official's background briefing. Judy had moved on from her tempestuous tenure as a Washington editor to be a reporter based in New York, but she showed up at this national security affairs briefing.

At first she leaned against the wall near where I was sitting, but I noticed that she seemed agitated about something. Midway through the briefing, she came over and whispered to me, "I think I should be sitting in the Times seat."

It was such an outrageous move, I could only laugh. I got up and stood in the back of the room, while Judy claimed what she felt was her rightful power perch....


A "tropism toward powerful men"? Acting like a Mean Girl toward a female colleague? Yeah, I find that believable.

I regret to say I've known a few women like that -- women who were successful professionals, and who thus seemed to embody what feminism is all about, who nevertheless seemed resentful of feminism, and catty toward other women, and who wanted to be cosseted in a pre-feminist way. Feminism seemed never to have posed a serious challenge to the fairy-princess images in the books they'd read as kids. So it strikes me as believable that Miller, a woman who fought her way to the top in a "man's job," might not really like or respect most women and might really, really admire puffed-up, manly, dominance-challenge-issuing men. If she held a different job, this would be a problem only for her and her shrink. In Miller's case, it means that she embraced would-be dragon slayers who were full of shit.

And I suppose that's what she put in the paper -- her wish fulfillment instead of the news.

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