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Friday, April 11, 2008

Belated Blogging, Part II

posted by on April 11 at 17:30 PM

There’s a bunch of crap on my desk, including the arts section from the April 2 issue of New York Times. On the cover of the section is the headline “Like the Candidates, TV’s Political Pundits Show Signs of Diversity,” and under that headline an arrangement of photos of Donna Brazile (on CNN), Michelle Bernard (on MSNBC), Alex Castellanos (on CNN), Rachel Maddow (on MSNBC), Amy Holmes (on CNN), and a panel of four male CNN political commentators (Paul Begala, Jamal Simmons, Roland S. Martin, and Bill Bennett).

This has been sitting on my desk for a week and a half because I keep meaning to blog about the article, but I can’t figure out what I think of it. It’s weird. It’s full of paragraphs like these:

Their counterparts at MSNBC include Michelle Bernard, a lawyer by training, who is black and conservative; Rachel Maddow, who is white and has a show on the liberal Air America Radio; Eugene H. Robinson, a black columnist for The Washington Post; and Joe Watkins, a Republican strategist who is also black. Last week Harold Ford Jr., a former congressman from Tennessee, made his MSNBC debut as a political analyst. Mr. Ford, a black Democrat, had been an analyst at Fox News.

Juan Williams, who is black and a National Public Radio correspondent, is a longtime regular on “Fox News Sunday,” which also uses minority female analysts like Angela McGlowan, a Republican strategist who is black; Michelle Malkin, a conservative Filipino-American journalist; and Linda Chavez, who is Hispanic and held positions in the Reagan administration. A recent addition is Laura Ingraham, a syndicated radio host who is white.

“It sounds like one of those Onion stories that goes, ‘Man Who Saves Family in Fire Is Gay,’” said Jen Graves when I read those paragraphs to her just now. Graves, who is white, was paraphrasing this. (First sentence: “Near-tragedy turned to joy Monday, as area residents Phillip and Karen Widman and their two children were saved from their burning house on Locust Street by Kevin Lassally, a homosexual man.”) That Onion parody is exactly to the point: all this obsessive labeling, while not bad or wrong or anything quite so strong as that, is just weird.

Then comes the weirdest word in the NYT piece:

A more saladlike pundit mix has been front and center in the last couple of weeks…

“Saladlike”? Really? The melting pot became stew became a salad? One can’t but help remember the introduction to Seattle Weekly’s Best of Seattle 2006, wherein “the editors” wrote:

In this 21st edition of Best of Seattle, we’re flavoring our annual review with the freshest of ingredients: immigrant Seattleites.

Immigrants as “ingredients.” Awesome. Mmm! These black and brown chunks are so peppery!

RSS icon Comments


The angle you were looking for is the part where it refers to "Michelle Malkin" as a "journalist" instead of a "clown".

Posted by supergp | April 11, 2008 5:44 PM

I'll tell you what's on MSNBC...a substantial endowment!!!

Posted by Christopher Frizzelle's Substantial Endowment | April 11, 2008 5:58 PM

The only reason to highlight the race or gender of someone in an article like that is because in print most white males would simply assume it was a white male unless the name were distinctive.

It has become customary when citing law review articles to write the entire name of the author instead of just the first name simply because people were assuming that all the authors were male.

Posted by vooodooo84 | April 11, 2008 6:13 PM

Great idea! From now on, all Slog posters have to identify their ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender on every post. Otherwise, how else would we know whether to take them seriously or not.

Posted by White Straight Male | April 11, 2008 6:29 PM

@4: and they have to confess they have...a substantial endowment!!!

Posted by Christopher Frizzelle's Substantial Endowment | April 11, 2008 6:31 PM

@1 - I think you meant "combat-avoiding unpatriotic Traitor who wants America to be in debt for one hundred years due to her own personal Greed and hatred of our shared American values of Truth, Justice, and the American Middle Class way of life".

Otherwise, spot on.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 11, 2008 8:20 PM

call off the PC police.

This season MSNBC is clearly making a special effort to not have only male white guys and is bringing on chicks and blacks, too. Even black chicks.

What we're too cool to give them a tiny ounce of credit, they are lame whatever they do, now they're trying tooooo hard.....ohmygod someone is writing about it.....ohmygood they labelled people!!!! call the PC police!! How can we be superior if a dumb channel like MSNBC is taking some small steps towards doing something...kinda good??

got it. it would be far, far better if they reverted to having 90% only white males.

Posted by unPC | April 11, 2008 9:54 PM

I prefer my salad pundit free because otherwise it gives me gas.

Posted by PopTart | April 11, 2008 10:18 PM

PC has nothing to do with this. Somebody sounds a tad paranoid. Is it really progress, if you constantly have to point out out someone's skin color or ethnicity? Don' think so.

Posted by KeeKee | April 11, 2008 10:37 PM

9, yes. it's a necessary step along the way. it will look silly and dated in twenty years, just like "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." but it actually is progress. always lots of quibbling on slog of this nature i've noticed.

Posted by ellarosa | April 12, 2008 12:04 PM

This is a pretty typical journalistic convention, that if it is an article about race in society or some aspect of such, they highlight the race of the speakers. I see it all the time. It isn't just done for no reason, just if relevant to the content of the story. Since it is an article about diversity in punditry, it is clearly relevant.

As a journalist, how does that not make sense to you?

Posted by Blacksheep | April 12, 2008 10:33 PM

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