Everything that is so, so wrong with national political coverage in just four paragraphs:
Carolyn Ryan, the Times political editor, says that one of the thrills and pleasures of her job is hearing from reporters about what they see on the campaign trail.
The national political reporters Amy Chozick and Patrick Healy have been crisscrossing the country: Ms. Chozick’s reporting focuses on Hillary Rodham Clinton and her candidacy; Mr. Healy has covered the presidential campaign generally. In a lively, dishy conversation between campaign stops, the reporters chat with Ms. Ryan about Mrs. Clinton and her campaign.
Informal and high-spirited, their conversation includes Mrs. Clinton’s snack of choice (jalapeño peppers, whole), her “badass” State Department look, her confidence level, the comparative political skills of Hillary versus Bill Clinton, and questions about the candidate’s authenticity. (Complete with revelations: “She’s brilliant at selfies.”)
The above babble is a teaser for the latest entry in a new New York Times feature called "Insider," which also happens to be the name of a tabloid TV program about both Hollywood and Washington celebrities. The Times Insider, shockingly enough, is reserved for those special insiders willing to pay extra to enter a digital gated community recently built behind the pre-existing paywall, itself designed to keep out the lower orders without the bucks to spare for the elite content and government propaganda that the Paper of Record churns out on a near-constant basis.With a few seconds for bellyaching about bad coffee in certain parts of New England.
In other words, the Insider is news for the affluent, who are not too concerned about the day-to-day angst of normal people. Why read about single payer healthcare and crumbling schools when you can learn about Hillary Clinton's snacks and selfie skills, and what a "badass" dresser she was over at the State Department? Oh yes. To give that spicy edginess to coddling the wealthy behind closed digital doors, the Grey Lady has finally become laid-back enough to utter the word "badass!" Too bad that it took the paper nearly a decade to go big and bold enough to admit that "enhanced interrogation" is really torture.
I must be more privileged than I thought, because I could actually access the gossipy podcast behind the gated community behind the paywall as part of a temporary free admission policy in hopes that I might part with more money to become privy to Insiderism on a regular basis. Based upon what I heard, though, I would not join Times Insider even if it were free.
The above teaser was actually a blessedly short synopsis of the very tedious and strained verbal "conversation" that ensued.
In case you were wondering, the "everything else" that Patrick Healy covers is named Bernie Sanders, who is not mentioned any more often than the Times can help, lest the mere mention of his name destroy Hillary's chances. Healy, to my utter shock, comes to his Bernie Beat directly from the Times' theater beat. After all, he tittered in the podcast, what is politics but performance art? No wonder that his Bernie articles are so heavily dismissive of Sanders' hair, accent, posture and couture as well as so snidely critical of his lack of schmoozing and baby-kissing skills.
Amy Chozick, who covers the Clintons exclusively, is disappointed that Hillary is not more like Bill, who has this "incredibly high energy and people skills" that his wife sorely lacks. This, after Chozick helpfully leaked her strategy to become more authentic and funny. Hillary is still pretty much a living, breathing "Policy Pez Dispenser," cheerfully chuckled Chozick within the safe confines of the gated digital salon. Oh, and although Hillary doesn't much care for political reporters, she absolutely adores Mark Landler, who covers the State Department for the Grey Lady. Chozick is s-o-o-o jealous that Hillary doesn't seem to like her as well, even though she is always unfailingly polite.
Meanwhile, Healy wallowed in his own shallowness by remarking, without a hint of irony within his gated community behind the Wall: "Hillary Clinton thinks reporters are interested in the story behind the story, and that's just not tru-u-u-e!"
I think I'll go choke on a jalapeño pepper.