Monday, March 5, 2007

Tangled Up in News

The scene remains iconic for any fan of Bob Dylan’s song, Tangled Up in Blue – the story of two young lovers, their turbulent affair, and repeated chance reunions: The boy leaves the girl for the first time, heading east on a rain-drenched road; the two lovers part for what they assume is forever.

As the most often played song in Dylan's arsenal, he continuously rearranges the lyrics with each tour – altering between first and third-person, and amending certain lines. In a 1984 concert, immortalized on his album, Real Live, (my personal favorite of all the recorded versions) Dylan ends this particular scene with this line: “She turned around to look at me/ As I was walking away/ She said I wish I could tell you all the things/ I never learned how to say/ And he said it’s alright, babe, I love you too/ But they were tangled up in blue”.

Rather than enter into a loving exegeses of this line and the song, I will instead claim that no one has or will say this line to New York Times columnist, Maureen Down.

Clearly, I am no fan of hers, and yet I mean nothing personal by this theory – I could even imagine her to be charming or something. She’s even quite fetching, by the looks of her glamor shot that accompanies her online columns:

Hubba, hubba. The premise of my theory rests of the fact that there is nothing that she would ever leave unsaid, and after she says it, and by some chance no one listens, then she’s just keep on saying it in different ways, just to know that someone is listening (or perhaps she is an attention hogging catty gadfly who has lost the ability to report on the news and chooses, instead, to create it). After her interview with David Geffen stirred up a useless controversy between Geffen and his former political ally, Hillary Clinton, exposed not only Clinton’s thin skin and the media’s need to drone on and inflame the most empty of hubbub, but also the fact (though highly obscured) that Senator Obama wants nothing to do with this type of nonsense. So what does our intrepid journalist do? She gets a sit down with the Senator and repeatedly prods him to comment on the issue. Regardless of the fact that the election has moved on to other issues – Iraq, Health Care, the Black vote, and other, real issues – our flaxen haired Maureen feels the need to continue stirring the perverse cocktail that we have been forced to drink these past few weeks. And I was just getting done with the hang over. From the interview with Senator Obama, in which she “feel[s] like Ingrid Bergman”:

"Channeling Ingrid, I press on and say: “I know you want to run a high-minded campaign, but do you worry that you might be putting yourself on a pedestal too much? Because people also want to see you mix it up a little. That’s how they judge how you’d be with Putin.”

“When I get into a tussle,” he replies, “I want it to be over something real, not something manufactured. If someone wants to get in an argument with me, let’s argue about how we’re going to fix the health care system or where we need to go on Iraq.”

Just to make clear, this is how Dowd sees herself:

Does no one with a public platform, besides Obama, see that he had nothing to do with this, that he has made no comment in what has been called a “dust up”, a “kafuffle”, and political “infighting”, “The Clinton-Obama psychodrama”? Why do Dowd’s fellow columnists continue to propel this image of an Obama/Clinton controversy? Through the prism supplied by these “journalists” it would seem that the more one reads the news, the less one learns about the issues affecting the election and the more the election becomes a battle of personalities – Bill Clinton is slick, Gore is wooden, Kerry is wooden, Obama's inability to fight about nonsense will hurt him, which is Dowd's hypothesis. (For more on this trend, I suggest you read this post)

It is with great consternation that I watch as these reporters manufacture these projected shortcomings and neuroses and then lament when the populous seems not to vote on the issues. How can we even find the damn issues amidst all this “dust up”? Certainly not in this post, as it merely comments on the commentators, thus adding only another level of mediation between the reader and the facts, but there are vast bastions of unfiltered and ice-brewed facts to be found. Just don’t look for them on the Op-Ed page in your Saturday edition of the New York Times. And do not send to know for whom the facts are aired. Not for Maureen or for David Brooks. They are aired for thee.

Luckily there are Blogger's and we're many strong, who agree with what I believe to be an objective assessment of Dowd's interview with Barack:

Colin McEnroe: "...the only kind of political story Dowd knows how to cover these days. Obama's replies were calm and thoughtful. He came across as a grown-up, MoDo the perpetual teenager and so careless an observer of contemporary polticis that she somehow failed to notice the real story."

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