The front of Monday’s New York Times presented some truly groundbreaking journalism: President Obama likes to read. Book critic and Obama idolizer Michiko Kakutani’s long farewell piece was plotted to make the departing president look like a thoughtful intellectual: “How Reading Nourished Obama During the White House Years.” It’s the sequel, awaited by no one, to her front-page report from January 2009 featuring then president-elect Obama on the eve of his inauguration, where she credited him for his "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 departing president George W. Bush's "prescriptive" reading that merely provided a black-and-white "Manichean view of the world."
Next Tuesday, three days before the current POTUS becomes an ex-POTUS, Jonathan Chait’s Audacity: How Barack Obama Defied His Critics and Created a Legacy That Will Prevail will be published. On Tuesday, New York magazine, where Chait is the chief political pundit, ran an excerpt from the book in which he claimed, “The truth is that Obama enacted careful, deep, and mostly popular solutions to a broad array of problems to which his opponents have no workable response.”
New York Times critic Dwight Garner wrote an embarrassingly florid tribute to first lady Michelle Obama, in the guise of a book review, on the front of Friday’s Arts section: “Eyes on a First Lady Unlike Any Other.” Garner was reviewing the work of 16 equally smitten liberals under “The Meaning of Michelle: 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Out Own. He began by posing the question on everyone's lips: "Who will Americans miss more, Barack or Michelle Obama?"
Megyn Kelly is a journalist, but she’s also a sort of actress, suggested Isaac Chotiner in a Monday review of her new book, Settle for More. To Chotiner, Kelly’s a conservative who plays a nonpartisan on TV. She has “done her best to cloud her real agenda.” And it’s worked: she has “wide-ranging respect and admiration among a press corps generally (and rightly) suspicious and dismissive of Fox News.” Chotiner is much less respectful and admiring. “The Kelly File is quite clearly ideological and very rarely ‘open-minded,’” he argued. “It is guilty of the same race-baiting and fearmongering that the rest of the network practiced throughout the election, and indeed over the past two decades.”
Just in time for the upcoming presidential election, popular book publisher Simon & Schuster has just released a new book for children aged 4-8 years old about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She, of course, most recently made headlines for speaking out critically against presidential candidate Donald Trump, an action that was blasted by even liberals for stepping outside her impartial role as a Supreme Court Justice.
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."