Right-wing Loonies Read my Blog!
July 7, 2009
Tags: Books, Chicago Tribune, Conflict of Interest, Culture, Edward Dolnick, Gawker, Liberalism, Lynn Dolnick, Nepotism, New York Times, Right-wing Loonies, Sam Tanenhaus, The New Yorker
Q: Why does NYTimes Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus wear that shit-eating grin?
A: Because he really does eat shit!
Last week’s post on the nepotism/conflict-of-interest scandal at the New York Times book review seems to have gotten picked up (without attribution!) by a bunch of right-wing wacko bloggers who have recast the story as a case of liberal media bias. These guys only know one tune and they whistle it all day long, so it’s worthwhile to revisit the facts to set things straight.
For those of you who don’t remember last week’s post:
Gawker reports that Lynn Dolnick, a member of the ruling Sulzberger family and a director of the Times corporate board, appears to be receiving more than her share of deference from the supposedly independent editors of the book review. They’ve gone into overdrive promoting a mediocre biography of an art forger by Lynn Dolnick’s husband Edward Dolnick even though everyone from The Chicago Tribune to the New Yorker says that another new book on the same subject–totally unmentioned by the Times’ book reviewers–is far better.
Now the issue here, as far as I can tell, has nothing to do with liberal bias. Having done a little research (much as I hate work in any form) it turns out that the other book is called “The Man Who Made Vermeers” by an author named Jonathan Lopez, and it is not particularly more conservative or liberal than Dolnick’s book. It’s just deeper and better written, at least according to Peter Schjeldahl of the New Yorker, who cites the Lopez book for its “profoundly researched, focused, absorbing depth.”
So, the point isn’t that the Times is run by a bunch of liberal sacks of shit. The point is that it’s run by a bunch of pompous, lying sacks of shit. And therein lies the critical difference.
For instance, consider the case of well-known pompous sack of shit Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the Times book review. In a recent interview in – where else? – the Times, he held forth on how great and important the NYTBR really is:
Our mission is very simple: to publish lively, informed, provocative criticism on the widest-possible range of books and also to provide a kind of snapshot of the literary culture as it exists in our particular moment through profiles, essays and reported articles. There are many, many books published each year – hundreds stream into my office in the course of a week. Our job is to tell you which ones we think matter most, and why…
How many people reading this self-important crap would know that the real reason Tanenhaus thinks a book “matters” is that it was written by the dilettante scribbler husband of his boss’s cousin, who just happens to own a couple million shares of NYT Company stock herself, personally? Is there a footnote to Tanenhaus’s interview that tells us, uhm, that he’s actually just a corporate lackey who does what the fuck he’s told? Or maybe we’re supposed to assume that anyone who looks like such an obvious a-hole has to be full of shit…
In any case, liberalism has got nothing to do with it.