Thursday, October 14, 2010

NYT 2.0

God, whatever happened to our "Newspaper of Record"? I go to the New York Times website and I see this: Education of a President. It's a puff piece of a nature so obsequious that Don Draper would have blushed to pitch to a Timesman of the 1960s.

"On a busy afternoon in the West Wing late last month," writes Peter Baker in prose that used to be restricted to what was then known as The Women's Page, " President Barack Obama seemed relaxed and unhurried as he sat down in a newly reupholstered brown leather chair in the Oval Office.... As he welcomed me, I told him I liked what he had done with the place."

The president of the United States, we are told, likes taupe. (I confess I had to Google the word. Mr. Obama has that effect on me. Neither did I know what arugula was, until he made it famous as an indicator of the Consumer Price Index during the campaign.)

I liked what he had done with the place! Mr. Baker goes on to explain what excited his admiration:

"The curved walls now had striped tan wallpaper, and the coffee table had been replaced by a walnut-and-mica table that, Obama noted, would resist stains from water glasses. The bust of Winston Churchill was replaced by one of Martin Luther King Jr. The couches were new. [The president] told me he was happy with the redecorating of the office. 'I know Arianna doesn’t like it,' he said lightly. 'But I like taupe.'"

It's all symbolic, we are led to believe, of a grand makeover of the presidency, which goes by the code name of Obama 2.0.

In the immortal words of Dave Barry, I am not making this up! I don't know who is more to be pitied, the president of the United States or a once-great newspaper. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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