Thursday, November 29, 2012

Metaphorical fellatio

By Frank Moraes

Matt Taibbi took one for the team; he read All In, Paula Broadwell's biography of General Petraeus. He referred to the book as "slobberific" -- a new word worth repeating.

The point of his article -- "One Interesting Thing About Paula Broadwell's Petraeus Biography" -- is that it is perfectly in keeping with authorized biographies generally. And that is a big problem. He even quotes Glenn Greenwald's well-known observation about media bias in modern America: "The overwhelming, driving bias of the US media is subservience to power, whoever happens to be wielding it."

Of course, Taibbi has his own way of getting his point across:

If you read All In carefully, the book's tone will remind you of pretty much any other authorized bio of any major figure in business or politics (particularly in business), and it will most particularly remind you of almost any Time or Newsweek famous-statesperson profile.

Which means: it's impossible to tell the difference between the tone of a reporter who we now know was literally sucking the dick of her subject and the tone of just about any other modern American reporter who is given access to a powerful person for a biography or feature-length profile.

*****

The real scandal in the Petraeus episode isn't that a would-be journalist was sleeping with her subject, it's that lots and lots of other journalists are doing the same thing -- metaphorically, anyway.


He ends the piece with a contrast between journalists of today and those of not that long ago. It is just sad:

Decades ago, when people like Sy Hersh were the go-to-profilers of influential people, journalists reflexively distrusted power, and any reporter, male or female, who wrote a blowjob profile (that's what we call them) of a politician or tycoon was looked down upon as a hack and a traitor. But these days, you can't tell the difference between your average profile of a Senator or CEO or a four-star general and an ESPN feature about a day in the life of Lebron James. We're supposed to make heroes out of sports stars, but what's everyone else's excuse? At least Broadwell did it for love. Well, maybe it wasn't even that...

What's happened to us? 

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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