Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Let's Talk Hit Pieces

English: Sarah Palin at the Time 100 Gala in M...
English: Sarah Palin at the Time 100 Gala in Manhattan on May 4, 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Some thoughts from xojane. Writer who was blindsided says no fair, You need to be upfront about where the story may go, not flatter and then betray.

 I would try to level with people whom I was reporting on. "Listen, you're probably going to look stupid, and other people are going to say shitty things about you, and here are some of those shitty things, but a lot of people will find out about you, so that's what's happening. Let's start with you responding to a few of the shitty things people have said about you. Here, I'll read them to you."

From the hit piece in question:

This past February, Ms. Stadtmiller and her colleagues detected a foul odor in the office, “forcing us to root around to try to find the dead mouse or rotting corpse that might lie somewhere buried,” she explained. It turned out that the pungent odor was the result of a tampon that had been trapped inside the author for a month. Naturally, Ms. Stadtmiller wrote a post about the incident. Actually, two.
While she is hardly alone in her TMI tendencies, Ms. Stadtmiller has become a master of the medium during her tenure at xoJane, where she is tasked with writing a daily personal essay—no easy feat. Her boundless ability to plumb her personal humiliations for blog posts raises the question: what could possibly come next? Where does a writer who has confessed to stinking up the office with a rancid tampon find the next degradation to exploit?

It Came from Wasilla. A Vanity Fair story on Sarah Palin by Todd Purdum. One person's hit piece is another person's incisive analysis. This was a long piece that Palin chose not to be interviewed for.

What does it say about the nature of modern American politics that a public official who often seems proud of what she does not know is not only accepted but applauded? What does her prominence say about the importance of having (or lacking) a record of achievement in public life? Why did so many skilled veterans of the Republican Party—long regarded as the more adroit team in presidential politics—keep loyally working for her election even after they privately realized she was casual about the truth and totally unfit for the vice-presidency? Perhaps most painful, how could John McCain, one of the cagiest survivors in contemporary politics—with a fine appreciation of life’s injustices and absurdities, a love for the sweep of history, and an overdeveloped sense of his own integrity and honor—ever have picked a person whose utter shortage of qualification for her proposed job all but disqualified him for his?
Molly Ball of the Atlantic on Hillary Clinton:
Everywhere Hillary Clinton goes, a thousand cameras follow. Then she opens her mouth, and nothing happens.

Clinton made a much-ballyhooed appearance in Iowa over the weekend, giving a speech widely noted for its substancelessness. She “had no explicit message of her own,” Politico noted, while The Economist pronounced it “underwhelming.” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough was so frustrated by Clinton’s lack of verve that he went on an extended rant about it, proclaiming, “I know her and like her, but she puts on that political hat and she’s a robot!” The coverage of Clinton’s speech seemed to contain more meditation about how anodyne she was than reporting of what she actually said.

Finally, though I didn't track down any print sources, here's a figure in the Monica Lewinsky scandal whose physical appearance was used as a way of demeaning here.

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