NO SALVATION FOR THE STANDARD: In recent postings Andrew Sullivan taunts the Weekly Standard for having given no coverage to the recent pederasty scandals in the Catholic Church. For a self-professed defender of tolerance and freedom, that’s a weird tack to take. Andrew Sullivan as intellectual bully? Besides, while he’s mocking “Mr. Enron, I mean [Standard editor Bill] Kristol,” for not pursuing the story, his real target is the weekly’s book editor, J. Bottum, a well-known conservative Catholic. “Or is [the Standard‘s] religious coverage deputed to Opus Dei?” Sullivan asks, reveling in the cheap shot. (Why not go all the way and call him an associate of Robert Hanssen’s?)
For backup, Sullivan quotes from a reader’s e-mail, which complains that a recent issue of the Standard devoted “AN ENTIRE COVER STORY on religion in America today [and] mentions the Catholic priest scandal NOT ONCE!” Sounds bad? No, not when a quick look at that “cover story” reveals it consisted of three reviews of serious theological and historical works. In other words, they weren’t written “off the news” at all.
Sullivan’s useful e-diot continues: “These McCainiacs are outrageous! Why isn’t the rest of the media calling them on it?” Won’t John McCain be surprised to learn he’s being blamed for softness on pederastic Catholicism! More interesting, though, is the appeal to the media to act according to what’s known as its herd mentality. He who doesn’t go along must be taught a lesson! And to think Laura Schlessinger was teased in Washington’s other paper yesterday for praising the Washington Times at its 20th anniversary dinner for putting out a paper that goes “contrary to the herd mentality.”
Finally, in view of Sullivan’s own special Catholic agenda — anti-celibacy, pro-openly gay priests, pro-ordination of women — perhaps he should be thankful the Standard isn’t spending its time shooting down his arguments. Or is he running out of straw men?
DRUDGE MATCH: It’s one thing to criticize what’s actually been written, quite another to demand that someone write according to the critic’s dictate. It appears that our staunchest defenders of free expression forget that that right also includes the right to remain silent. The left has long argued that pressure from right-wingers forced the mainstream media to cover certain Clinton scandals. Now its activists pursue orchestrated e-mail campaigns in efforts to force the media to attack its chosen, say, Bush-connected targets. Or, in the case of David Brock, the left has tried to entrap conservatives into reviewing a book that has all the markings of a work written entirely in bad faith and thus would only enjoy unmerited status if conservatives paid it serious mind.
Until recently, the Drudge Report went along with this tendency to ignore Brock’s book. But then it linked to Christopher Hitchens’ smart dismissal, and soon after previewed a Bay Area investigation into Brock’s shaky account of his college journalism. Now Drudge has dropped the big one, reporting that Brock had a breakdown and was committed to a psychiatric ward of a Washington hospital last summer.
Tapped, the American Prospect Online‘s hot new blog, attacked the report as old (but apparently not new) Brock-style “sleazy attack journalism,” and suggested it’s possible Drudge “made it up entirely” — a rather odd claim given that Drudge writes that Brock, “reached by phone in Washington late Tuesday…strongly denied [that] the hospitalization and breakdown in any way affected his ability to recall events depicted” in his book. How can something be made up if the target himself confirmed the accuracy of its main points by denying they had any impact on the content of his book?
If Tapped has trouble reading a simple Drudge item, it’s hopeless when assigned a book to read, or so it seems from Tapped‘s calling Brock’s book on Anita Hill a “prime example” of sleazy attack journalism. Written carefully and calmly, and based extensively on the public record and on-the-record sources, The Real Anita Hill is the last thing one might term attack journalism, let alone sleazy. If Tapped wants to practice counterattack journalism, it’ll have to load its guns with something stronger than blanks.
Sadly, Tapped ends its item by threatening to think more highly of Brock’s book if the conservative publications don’t attempt a “thorough review-debunking.” Now there’s an interesting intellectual twist — a frank admission that one’s reading is colored by politics and not by one’s own ability to reason.
FAN DEPRECIATION:Presumptuousness is the bane of our times, and hardly limited to the world of make-believe politics. An excellent recent example is the treatment recently accorded Luciano Pavarotti, the greatest tenor imaginable, when at the last minute he canceled what apparently would have been his farewell performances at the Met. At age 66, his voice far past its prime, he felt somewhat ill and apparently concluded he couldn’t perform in passable fashion. That alone angered some who’d paid top dollar for a chance to hear him a final time. But what really rankled was Pavarotti’s decision not to appear before the disappointed audience to make the announcement in person. One would think an understanding New York audience would be sophisticated enough not to impose on an artist experiencing a deeper disappointment than theirs. If he were interested in cheap celebrity he would have showed up to bathe in their sympathy. But there must have been something more serious going on, and in such times even great figures might feel a compelling need to be left alone — or simply to end on a note of aloofness or mystery.
Fans come in all sizes. A few weeks ago Washington Post sports columnist Thomas Boswell described the return of long-time favorite Oriole/now Indian Brady Anderson to Baltimore and the welcome he received from some old fans. Boswell interviewed a father and daughter who had their picture taken with Anderson this time. They said he’d remembered them from last season, when they had waited two and a half hours after a game to receive a promised autograph from him. “There are still good guys in the game who appreciate the fans,” the father later told Boswell. Then he added: “But they should. They work for us, basically.”
Huh? It was creepy enough when Bill Clinton used to insist he needed to get back to work for the American people. Apparently, some people took him at his word, and now apply that democratic conceit to other walks of life. These days one cannot appreciate an exceptionally great talent without somehow assuming he’s got nothing on you, no way.