Tuesday, September 14, 2004

All the news that's fit to allude to

We've been hestitating to weigh in on the latest round of Shalitiana, partly because, well, we don't really care, partly because we know a little too much about the backstory. And the central issue does fall under the BOBW purview: namely that nasty mainstream journo habit of leaving much to read between the lines, reader be damned. We've noted it here and here in the case of the New York Times' prudishness, as well as that of the subtitlers who work for Le Journal. Now comes the Times announcement of Plagiarist Nonpareil Shalit's wedding, in the primo top-of-the-column-left-of-vows spot. As Sullywatch points out:

... clearly the only reason we can think of that Ruth Shall-Not-Eat’s wedding made the top spot in the Times was the bride’s notoriety as a repeat-offending journalistic outlaw ... the very thing which the text so circumspectly omits.

Yes, once again, only the cognoscenti are in on the joke. But what we have a problem with, in all of the blog commentary, is the suggestion that Ruthie slept her way to the top (or is it the middle?). From Steve Gilliard:

Now, why did Shalit have such a charmed career? Because she and her sister Wendy were, for lack of a better phrase, f*ckable. Nobody cared what Shalit wrote as long as they could hop in bed with her. ... While Wendy made a point of her virginity, Ruth, well, that wasn't the issue with her. She was cute, and that caused a lot of "sympathy" in Washington. Print newsrooms, as a rule, are a room full of ugly, male and female. Wearing makeup will get you noticed. Mini-skirts? Jesus, that's enough to get you a line of boyfriends, age appropriate or not.

Okay, so Ruthie may have had a lot of sex in the '90s; well, didn't we all? But "f*ckable"? Cute?!?! Please. Do you not remember her trademark black lipstick? Yes, she had a bizarre charm and faux innocence that enthralled certain lesser males, to be sure, but no one ever called her much of a looker. Her success had much more to do with bad management by then-New Republic Editor Andrew Sullivan (who we can be just about certain never slept with her); his and others' appetite for "counterintuitive" "journalism"; and Shalit's own keen aggressiveness combined with the ability to turn a phrase on deadline (mentions of profilee tucking into a plate of pan-fried trout a double bonus). It can be confusing, we know, but just 'cause she's a girl, it doesn't mean her only talent is sex.