Wednesday, February 17, 2010

When You're Inside the Bottle, It's Hard to Read the Label

I love the New York Times, I really do.
But sometimes I wonder if the people who do the writing ever pause long enough to read what they write. Two examples from today's paper almost gave me journalistic whip lash.
Case in point #1: Adam Nagourney's front page piece on Senator Evan Bayh's decision not to run for re-election.
Now why did Senator Bayh decide to step down? Because the political climate in Washington, DC is poisonous, ruined by rampant, unthinking partisanship.
And what was Adam Nagourney's take on the decision? "Mr. Bayh's decision staggered Democrats." All he could think about what what the decision meant to, you guessed it, the hyper-partisan world of Democrats and Republicans.
Full disclosure: I'm sensitive to this because, after the Massachusetts Senate race sent Mr. Brown to Washington, I teased one of my Boston friends about the election: How could they have "gone Republican"? His answer: Only outsiders thought of that election as Democrats versus Republicans. People in Massachusetts thought of it as a way to register their growing anger with the whole scene in Washington, both Democrats and Republicans.
But rather than explore that angle, Nagourney simply echoed in his story the reason Bayh was bailing out in the first place. Too much partisanship, and here's how the partisanship problem gets worse. It's like a journalistic echo chamber.
But the one that really takes the cake is the reporting on Fashion Week in New York.
We start with a really thoughtful column by Guy Trebay on Coca Rocha, writing about the truly mentally ill part of the fashion world that forces young women and girls into sick eating behavior. Sick as in life-threatening eating disorders. But Coco Rocha is the exception; she actually has a body and she's a grown up who refuses to do what the industry demands.
The column ends with her very pointed quote about the very young women who are modeling now. Writes Trebay: "And the latest crop of models is not made up of 'adults or even sort-of adults,' she insisted. 'They are children. Point closed.'"
So the problem is the way the industry exploits too young, too thin, very vulnerable girls.
Like the one whose picture is right across from the Trebay column. A very young, very thin, very vulnerable looking model. Point closed.

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