Givhan Predictably Pans Abramoff Fashions; Shales Surprisingly Pans "Book of Daniel"

January 6th, 2006 8:43 AM

Today's Washington Post Style section offers a pile of articles worthy of comment. First, Post fashion critic Robin Givhan saddled up for another politicized fashion critique, trashing the fashions of slimy GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Less predictable than Givhan trashing Abramoff (in betting terms, that article was a drop-dead lock) is Tom Shales going postal on NBC's desperate-Episcopal drama "Book of Daniel." His headline calls it "A Mean-Spirited, Unholy Mess." 

In short, he concluded: "I cannot recall a series in which a greater number of characters seemed so desperately detestable -- a series with a larger population of loathsome dolts. There ought to be a worse punishment than cancellation for a show that tries this hard to be offensive and, even at that crass task, manages to fail."

He added: "It figures the actors are wandering about in their own separate fogs because the tone of the piece is feckless and uncertain. You don't know whether the producers and writers are going for dark farce or portentous potboiler....Perhaps realizing they've created a crop of characters who are irredeemably mean, venal and idiotic, the writers try to tell us these people are really sweethearts -- not by depicting good qualities through action but simply by having them primitively vouch for one another."

Back to Givhan: Can we really kvetch here? Well, there's not a sentence in this review I can really protest. Abramoff's fashions were awful, he did look like a crook in his black mobster getup, and it's incredibly stupid politics to wear a khaki cap to a corruption proceeding from a Las Vegas resort that a reporter can find boasts that "few places on Earth offer such extravagance." The only critique here is Givhan's predictable record. With the exception of Condi Rice, Givhan has very predictably trashed conservatives as out of fashion, while she hailed Saddam Hussein's "stud suit" look in the courtroom.

Let's offer a little kudos on the Marcia Davis article on battling Alito press conferences, which was fairly balanced, and avoided labels on either side. (Mini-kvetch: why do the conservatives have "female fellow travelers"? That's a term classically applied to the soft-on-communism folks.) The best part of the piece was just acknowledging that social conservatives had a press conference, and quoting them, and even more astonishing -- running a photo of them. Look, social conservative lobbyist pictures in the Post! (Sadly, the online article only uses the liberal picture, not both.)

Finally, Lisa deMoraes suggests Jon Stewart will not be Nielsen ratings magic for the Oscars, but goes on to report that the Episcopal Diocese of Washington (no liberal label) is outraged at the "conservative Christian" American Family Association's campaign against "The Book of Daniel" and has started a blog for comments on the show. Said spokesman James Naughton: "So, the idea that these people are setting themselves as arbiters of how our church should be portrayed on television is ridiculous."

The "Blog of Daniel" reveals that the D.C. Episcopalians are trying be very welcoming to the show's producers. They reproduce a note from "Daniel" creator Jack Kenny:

Jack Kenny, creator of "The Book of Daniel," left a comment last night:

"Hi. I'm the creator of "The Book of Daniel." I just wanted to say thank you for your input and support. I hope we will continue to do you all proud. Our goal has always been to tell a specific story about a man and his family... a man and his flaws... a man and his own personal, private relationship with his faith - in the embodiment of Jesus... how anyone can be offended by this, and deny the opportunity of others to watch it and make up their own minds is a continual source of confusion for me... It was written with nothing but respect and love for the Episcopal church and it's members - a church that my life partner of 23 years belongs to, and a church that I am strongly considering joining..."