COLLINS AMONG THE PEOPLE! Lady Collins forgot her picnic thingsand Lehrer discussed Clintons steak: // link // print // previous // next //
SATURDAY, AUGUST 15, 2009
Three more cheers: Once again, we cheer Rutenberg/Calmes for yesterdays name-naming, front-page report (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/14/09). If big newspapers had behaved that way in the past twenty years, wed be in a different country. And world.
On Monday, well look at some work in the Washington Post on that same day, on that same subject. In one case, our analysts groaned to see Anne Kornblut back. Lets just offer this small thought: In the work from yesterdays Post, different impulses and frameworks appear.
COLLINS AMONG THE PEOPLE: Bob Herbert is doing a good thing today; hes trying to understand his nations system of health care. Its the sort of thing youd almost expect a major journalist to do!
More specifically, Herbert has found a good news story about health care in an economically stressed, rural region of Vermont. Herbert describes a national network of centers that are officially (and clumsily) known as Federally Qualified Health Centers. He never quite examines the fundingthe federal costof these centers. But he finds good things occurring in this part of Vermont:
Were suspicious. Is it possible Hoynes a tea-bagger? Herbert probably should have asked. But his column is about a serious topic, even if hes a bit indiscriminate in his choice of interview subjects.
On that same op-ed page, we find our highest lady, Gail Collins, reminiscing about her days at Woodstock. (Forty years ago this weekend, I was at the Woodstock concert.) Through her endlessly frivolous work, Collins is sitting out the major events of the current era. But then, she seems to have missed the point of the Woodstock exposition as well:
We recalled the late Tim Russerts memoir of his own trip to Woodstockthe reminiscence which appeared in Tom Brokaws book on the 1960s. Brokaw chose to examine the era in a predictable way; he asked a string of major celebrities to offer their recollections. Soon after publication, Russert brought Brokaw onto Meet the Press to help him peddle the book.
Needless to say, Brokaw had an interesting take on the era. According to Brokaw, the 1960s was a transformational time:
So lets see: Russert was chucking the football around; Collins had forgotten her picnic basket. Its amazing this thing ever got off the ground with so many squares around.
Skimming Boom, we werent sure if we were really supposed to believe what Russert wrote about Woodstock. Was this just something he dreamed up at the club, with Jack Welch, among the swells? Just the latest chance for NBC News to establish the brand of its leading star? Once again, we learned that Russert was just a beer-drinking galoot from Buffalo. At the same time, there he was, in Brokaws book, with nothing but big stars around!
Luckily, there were lessons in the book that will help us get through these next very challenging years.
Last night, another major media star seemed to be sleep-walking through those years. Hillary Clinton has been in a series of African countries, confronting some overpowering issues. But last night, sitting with Brooks and Shields, the American novelist Jim Lehrer started his discussion like this:
Shields and Lehrer, two men of the people, cant imagine spending money like that!
(We have a comedian friend who once appeared at an event with Shields. By an error on the part of the bookers, he saw what Shields had been paid for his speech: 35 large.)
They became deranged many years ago. Few of them will ever emerge. They long to talk about Bill Clintons steaks. African lives dont count for much inside such a culture.
On Monday, well start a series about some of the truly remarkable facts which are being almost wholly deep-sixed in our health care pseudo-discussion.
You too, Brooks: Doggone it! David Brooks went there too, as soon as he got his chance:
It hurts when we think of the fun Cillizza and Milbank could have had with this topic!