New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani is notorious about letting her personal liberal politics infect her aesthetic judgment. In January 2009 she praised incoming president Barack Obama’s "love of fiction and poetry" that "imbued him with a tragic sense of history and a sense of the ambiguities of the human condition," as opposed to President George W. Bush's "prescriptive" reading that provided him only a black-and-white "Manichean view of the world." It’s near the end of the Obama era, and Kakutani is still keeping up with the current Manhattanite ideological fashions. The latest trend: Glibly, and offensively, comparing the violence and death-dealing of antebellum slavery to black suffering at the hands of police and the judicial system today, with a swipe at Ronald Reagan.
The New York Times appears to be playing games again with conservative authors, trying to keep them off its vaunted (and secretively manipulated) Best Sellers list. This has happened to Ted Cruz, to Dinesh D’Souza, and to David Limbaugh.
This case is more ironic: Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel has a new book out called The Intimidation Game: How the Left Is Silencing Free Speech.
The New York Times Sunday Book Review featured former book editor Sam Tanenhaus talking about several news political tomes under the rubric “Why Populism Now?” And when we say “talking about,” we mean using the books as a pretext to slime Republicans as demographically doomed, out-of-touch racists. Also: Libertarians give you cancer.
Every year the New York Times tries to ruin the summer movie season with the pair of fun-deprived, politically correct movie critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott, who solemnly count up and analyze female characters on screen before declaring the portrayals sexist and the numbers insufficient. The bean-counting joylessness has expanded to another artistic field, with theatre critics Laura Collins-Hughes and Alexis Soloski dueling to see who could be more astringently feminist in grading the current state of Broadway: “Broadway May Not Be So White, but Is It Woman Enough?” Plus an arbitrary dig at Ronald Reagan in the Sunday Books section.
No one can imagine that the terms "Islam" and "filthy religion" would be associated with each other in the pages of The New York Times. But in the Sunday Book Review, an article on Tom Bissell's history of the apostles of Jesus Christ began with this stunning turn from poet Christian Wiman:
"Nietzsche believed that if only a Dostoyevsky had been among the apostles who followed Jesus, someone who understood the environment in which 'the scum of society, nervous maladies and "childish" idiocy keep a tryst,' we might have been spared centuries of ovine idiocy," he wrote. "One genius could have given us a work of ennobling art. Instead, we got 12 bleating sheep and one filthy religion."
Call it Harry Potter & the Goblet of Grievance.
J.K. Rowling has run afoul of the Indian indignation industry. According to Huffington Post, the author is in heap-big trouble for not being sufficiently sensitive to the diversity within the “Native American wizarding community.”
The New York Times often uses its book review to make liberal political statements under the cover of criticism, whether by praising books by liberals that bash conservatives, or eviscerating books by conservatives that attack the left. Sunday brought the first kind, summed up by this online teaser: "Dark Money argues that the Koch brothers and a small number of allied plutocrats have essentially hijacked American democracy."
Primates of Park Avenue is a new memoir by Wednesday Martin that purports to examine and explain the preposterously well-off women of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, much like Jane Goodall studied chimpanzees. Martin's prominent pre-publication essay in the New York Times mocked those "poor little rich women" for betraying feminism by being "dependent and comparatively disempowered." Times reporter Anne Barnard reacted to the essay with a liberal political rant and the paper ran no less than three reviews. But the New York Post outclassed its rival in journalistic integrity, finding many factual errors that will result in the publisher slapping an asterisk on the book.
In case the adulatory media coverage of Hillary Clinton isn’t enough, there are the adoring Hillary Clinton children’s books. In August, Simon and Schuster will release Hillary Rodham Clinton: Dreams Taking Flight, a picture book for grade-schoolers.
The book is written by Kathleen Krull and is the story of Hillary Clinton’s childhood, her dreams of becoming an astronaut, her education, her experience as First Lady of Arkansas and the nation, and her campaign for president. The book also includes inspirational quotes and messages (let's wonder if any are from the Bible, as she once claimed it was her “biggest influence”), as well as stories of the high points and a few of the low points along the way.
Janet Maslin has been reviewing movies and books for The New York Times for several decades, and up until now she has faithfully towed the newspaper's line on abortion.
Then she slipped. In a book review about a Chinese abortionist, she noted that once the "fetus" was born, "she has no right to take its life anymore."
Ayman Mohyeldin has suggested that Chris Kyle, the real "American Sniper," was a "racist" whose military missions were nothing less than "killing sprees."
With opinions like that, you might imagine Mohyeldin to be some unhinged bloviator from the bowels of the anti-American far left. Or, an NBC foreign correspondent [who formerly worked for Al Jazeera] who regularly reports on events in the Middle East. Which is exactly what he is. Ayman vented his bile on today's Morning Joe.
Lena Dunham is blissfully untroubled by self-awareness. It’s a quality that might be endearing in someone less repulsive. But in a recent interview with Grantland’s Bill Simmons it comes off as the obnoxiousness of a spoiled brat.
Take, for instance, when the 28-year-old, who’s currently flogging her memoir (even Obama had the decency to wait until his early 30s), and much of who’s work in “Girls” is at least somewhat autobiographical said, “I never want to become someone where like what’s happening to me becomes the entirety of the reality of the world.”