Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bill & Emma: What Lies Beneath Them

New York Times columnist Bill Keller and his lovely wife Emma are being rightly castigated for their twin columns castigating a woman suffering from Stage 4 breast cancer. You can read all about it here, here, here and here.... or wherever good journalism is sold without a paywall.

The gist is this: Bill and Emma, as members of the elite ruling class, are miffed that a mere blogger named Lisa Adams  is horning in on the cancer discourse. When Angelina Jolie underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery (as did Emma Gilbey-Keller) it was golden fodder for a New York Times op-ed and worldwide celebrations of her bravery. It's the bright-siding of cancer, and the miracles of technology usually only available to the very wealthy, the very well-connected, and the very insured.

 When Lisa Adams Tweets about her unrelenting pain and how it feels better to be cuddled by a volunteer therapy dog at Sloan-Kettering, Bill Keller demands to know what it's costing him. Because when it comes to "entitlements" for ordinary people, he gets a real bee in his bonnet, as evidenced by his entire privileged body of work. A prime example is this piece of drivel, in which the entitled jerk calls the lesser people entitled jerks for wanting medical care and a secure retirement.

The snobbery of the Kellers is nothing new. What's new is that they finally crossed the line and aimed their unrelenting disdain at the wrong person. They kicked someone when she was not only down, but dying. They morphed from Marie Antoinette into the Marquis de Sade in one fell swoop.

Bill and Emma are a power couple of the New Gilded Age. He is the multimillionaire son of the former CEO of Chevron. Emma is no slouch either. A member in good standing of the British Peerage, she hails from the Gilbey Gin family and used to date Secretary of State John Kerry, himself a Boston Brahmin descendent of the Forbes Family of Chinese opium traders. Emma's cousin was a paramour of Princess Diana, whom he notoriously called Squidgy in a hacked and hilarious phone conversation.

Getting the surreal picture yet? To paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald --  Bill and Emma Keller are different from you and me. They are very, very rich, and very, very weird.

Julian Fellowes might even use CancerGate as inspiration for an episode of Downton Abbey. When the scullery maid gets run over by a truck and writes a best-selling memoir of her ordeal, Lord and Lady Grantham peevishly react by self-publishing a piece in The London Review of Books. They are veddy veddy miffed, because M'Lady  had self- published her own literary account of that mishap in her Bentley only last year. And it just languished in the bargain bin at Selfridge's!  This.... Cannot.... Be. It is a slap in the face to the whole established order of things.

So let Lisa Adams rest assured. She is just the latest victim of the serial rampant concern-trolling of the Keller Family. She devalued the Keller Family Values without even realizing it. And for that, she had to be punished by The Keller Family.

Back when he was still executive editor of the Gray Lady, Bill Keller would engage in the occasional noblesse-obliging with the hoi polloi. But when one hapless reader had the effrontery to ask him about his personal life, he let all his carefully-tempered disdain burst right out of his coddled thin skin:

Q. I think a lot of young journalists and editors, myself included, are curious about what a day in the shoes of Bill Keller is like. Can you walk us through a normal work day for The Times's executive editor?
— Devin Banerjee, Stanford, Calif.
A. Really? You'd be interested in that? Well, I think my life is pretty much what you would imagine it to be.
I wake up most mornings to the telephone, invariably some world leader or international celebrity seeking my counsel. Lately it's been a lot of President Obama — again with the damn puppy? — but sometimes it's Richard Holbrooke to pick my brain about Afghanistan, or Bruce Springsteen asking if it isn't time for another Arts and Leisure cover story about Bruce Springsteen. The valet brings breakfast with the handful of newspapers that have not gone out of business. In the limo on the way to the office, I help Warren Buffett sort out his portfolio and give trading advice to George Steinbrenner, not that he ever listens.
At the office, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and I have our morning conference call with Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong-il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — plus Fidel Castro when he's compos mentis. Dictating the world's agenda entails a lot of conference calls. I've been encouraging the cabal to save some money by using iChat, but first we have to persuade Putin to wear a shirt.
Lunch at the Four Seasons is always a high point. Today it's my weekly tête-à-tête with Bill O'Reilly. He's really not the Neanderthal blowhard he plays on TV. He's totally in on the joke. After a couple of cosmopolitans, he does a wicked impression of Ann Coulter. We usually spend the lunch working up outlandish things he can say about The New York Times and making fun of Fox executives. (Once Rupert Murdoch showed up for a lunch date, and O'Reilly had to hide under the table for half an hour.)
I spend most of the afternoon writing all the stories for the front page. (You knew those were all pseudonyms, right?) I write Tom Friedman's column, too, but, I swear, Bill Kristol wrote all his own stuff.
By then it's time for drinks and dinner. If you're reading this, Julian, I think the duck tonight. I had the foie gras for lunch. And no time for dessert. The Secretary of State is coming by to give me a back rub.
That Bill Keller sure is one funny guy. His humor never fails to deliver a jab at the lesser people under the guise of satiric self-deprecating repartee.

Or, as Dean Baker put it, "The New York Times can't find credible columnists, so they hired Bill Keller."

Bill & Emma Keller Named Fun Couple of 2014


Pearl said...

Karen: in response to your current column about Bill Keller and his reaction to the writings of Lisa Adams about her battle with stage 4 cancer I can only say I agree with
the following response:

The writer is the author of “Being Alive and Having to Die: The Spiritual
Odyssey of Forrest Church.” To the Editor:

In more than 15 years as a hospice chaplain, I’ve been learning not to judge the choices made and battles that patients wage. The manner of decision making in this mystery of mortality humbles each of us, and I do not believe there is one “right way” or “right timing” to choose palliative rather than
aggressive care.

Within the finite constraints of financial and emotional care, our culture needs to learn how to better support both those who are impelled to try nearly everything and those who choose quality of days over quantity.


Regardless of our opinions about the Kellers and their social and political
status, we are losing sight of the real battle concern. How people choose to deal with their mortality and choice of care is of second issue to the importance that any citizen with cancer receive the same excellent care and be covered by the costs. There is no wrong or right way to deal with cancer but to have the right of choices of care and coverage financially is what matters. There is no indication of how the Kellers feel about the current miserable health care coverage for Americans which is an important point to know about (and which I feel is probably not to institute true single payer national health care).

Having been the sole caregiver for my husband in dealing with his terminal
diagnosis, I am all too familiar of what goes on and it was very difficult to read the various writings of Ms.Adams you accessed for us, Karen. It sounds as if she had the care she wanted and was entitled to and evidently financially supported (perhaps as a trial patient for the procedures). I
have read stories from the U.S. of cancer patients having to struggle to pay for procedures which is what really upset me as in Canada, such care is covered by our national health care set up. It was of great support and relief to us that by getting my husband's final care in Florida when we were
covered for U.S. medicare which had not yet been cut back, I had no worry
about U.S. bills and also had Canadian coverage for all his medications as well. He had full choice of what procedures his Oncologist recommended he
follow which gave him a sense of control. But of course there is no way to alleviate the pain of watching a beloved husband slowly die. And I
personally do not feel comfortable when people speak out about their
sufferings (physical or emotional) for public consumption. But that is my personal choice about a need for privacy and I do not criticize others for how they deal with life and death.

Let us not confuse the real issues here and keep fighting for decent health care coverage for all citizens, whether terminal or not. And if patients want to write of their experiences, that is their choice and the results could be either helpful to others or not. I prefer more information from the
researchers and medical personnel about current strides for conquering
illness which for cancer, is now on the cusp of great discoveries that I
have written about recently and which is attracting more financial
assistance as a result.

Zee said...


I wasn't able to read all the comments on Keller's nasty article, but as far as I got they appeared to be about 99% critical of the author.

Well said, by both you and Chaplain Pasinski!

Zee said...


Thank you for the brilliant and detailed unmasking/skewering of La Famille Keller!

And, especially, for providing the link to Wonkette's even more scathing condemnation of the Bill Keller “hit piece” on Lisa Adams: her blog is more focused on the specific article than the nasty Keller family history, but delightfully and piercingly profane along the way. That's something that I normally don't appreciate, but Wonkette carried it off extremely well.

I may have to bookmark her blog for occasional future visits--in small doses.

Also loved many of the other sub-links, e.g.: “Terrified I might get cancer, because what if Bill and Emma Keller yell at me.”

Again, Thank you!

Jay - Ottawa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay - Ottawa said...

“Police are still seeking the gunman who forced Emma Keller to read the Adams tweets.”
–––––––– Tweeter Cow Yun Flat on

How wonderful to discover the name of Syracusan (NY) Dave Pasinski, an old acquaintance, right here on Sardonicky by way of Pearl in Toronto. Great guy, small world.

I too do a few hours weekly in palliative care, and that’s how I came by a note being circulated among p-c volunteers at the hospital. It’s from a Golden Retriever. An American Pawsign interpreter has transcribed the note into English for people who don’t happen to be dog whisperers.

* * *
“Woof, woof, how you nice folks doing today? My name is Snippy. Funny name, I know. My mother wanted to call me Snoopy from the Peanuts comics, but my father, a more traditional kind of guy, preferred Skippy. So they compromised, which I think is beautiful.

“I’m on the Caring Canines team and visit patients everyday –– except Thursday (my day for a good run and some socializing in the park). Ms Adams is such a dear. Even when I find her dozing I tap her knee with my paw and before you know it she’s giving me a big hug. I love it when she smiles. Just like so many of the other patients around here, she’ll sneak me a cookie when the nurses aren’t looking. Master will sometimes put a brush in my mouth before I enter the room, Lisa grooms me for ten minutes, which we both love (even though I always come on duty with my coat clean and silky).

“Anyway, I heard about the Kellers. Strange breed. His & Her stiff-upper-lip crap makes my upper lip curl. Would I ever like to sink my canines in that son-of-skunk’s leg! Just saying––––––

“We dogs have a super-refined sense of smell, as you know, so I can tell you with 96% percent confidence that Keller’s op-ed stuff stinks. If his dumps on nice people are such an embarrassment, why doesn’t the publisher send him back to housebreaking school? Homesick puppies whine less. And he was a pack leader? Reinforces my resolution not to read the Times anymore.

“Here’s an opinion that rests on four good legs. (And I’m an expert at sizing up humans.) It’s clear to me that Bill Keller is the one who's seeking attention with his inane barking in the middle of the square over nothing, not Lisa Adams from the confines of her bed, blog and tweets.

“Gotta go: so many people, so little time.

“Stay loyal,

Zee said...


Indeed, such a beautiful name!

I hope that you know that I love most dogs more than I love most people. Dogs are such a faithful and forgiving lot! Far more than we humans deserve...

Thank you so much for the loving care that you dedicate to Lisa Adams and her fellow patients! What a joy to feel a warm paw in one's hand when all seems darkest beyond all hope!

I pray that some of your fellow Caring Canines will be there for me when my time comes. Could you look into the possibility that my beautiful, loving, mischievous Black Labrador, Suki, will be there when I cross the threshold? I know that it's a lot to ask of you, but it would mean so much to me...

God, how I miss her longing looks to go out into the back yard and throw her beloved orange ball for her when the snow was six inches deep on a cold, pitch black, January morning!

Give my best to Jay when you see him working in hospice, and let him know that I have great respect for him, however much we may disagree on the details...

Best wishes,


ste-vo said...

As usual great stuff from Sardonicky. Years ago, my father, pretty much incapacitated from Parkinson's was moved into a Nursing Center when his wife, my mother, could no longer care for him adequately. We still lived nearby. I had a Golden Retriever named Boomer, 90+ lbs and oozing personality. I got Boomer approved by the Center to visit my father, who like me was a dog-lover. The normal walk from the parking lot to his room was 10 minutes, but when I took Boomer for a visit it was 30 minutes. The residents, sitting in wheelchairs in the hallways smothered Boomer with love and attention, and he of course ate it up. Needless to say those visits were not too depressing. Both my father and Boomer have moved onto a better place; I am sure they are looking down on us and laughing, hysterically, since there is really no other way to respond to the clusterfuck we live in.

Noodge said...

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”

Will Rogers

Jay - Ottawa said...


There’s no way right now for me to get word to Suki, but as soon as my time comes to jump over the Big Fence I’ll tell her to wait for you by the Pearly Gates.

As for that Jay person, it would be wise to keep your distance. The gates of someplace else are probably in his future.

Kat said...

Perhaps if the Kellers want to write about histrionics and waste in health care they should reference this writer.
What she had was DCIS, which she called the "fastest growing type of cancer in the US". That makes it sound scary, doesn't it? It's not fastest growing as in "aggressive" -- just in terms of being diagnosed-- as in, the more we screen, the more we are likely to pick up these indolent tumors. Hers were tiny, and even she had to admit that with DCIS 50% of the tumors do nothing, and others grow so slowly, that there is little reason for a woman over 70 to be treated for them.
Ms. Keller, however, went the whole nine yards and had a double mastectomy at Mt.Sinai Medical center-- yeah, the same people that run those special advertising sections in her husband's paper. And then she shared her experience with the world. How kind.

Zee said...


Thanks for the link.

And Emma Keller, after spilling her guts in her own tell-all piece, had the gall to criticize Lisa Adams for sharing too much information about her battle with cancer?


Kat said...

I know! Unbelievable. The unmitigated gall. Etc., etc., etc.
But then Bill piles on by mentioning his wife's experience with cancer. It was not the same thing at all!
If Bill wants to talk about selling hope he might do well to finger those advertisers I was speaking of. I'm sure you've seen their tales medical miracles in the special advertising sections. Because cancer is big business. He could talk about any number of issues related to Cancer inc. That he chose to direct his "concern" to this blogger-- a mother fighting for her life-- shows you just what he thinks of the little people.

ste-vo said...

Thanks Noodge. And then there is this quote, attributed to Frederick the Great. "The more I see of men, the better I like my dog."

Pearl said...

When my oldest granddaughter graduated from the U. of Guelph with a degree in English, she could not find work. She always loved dogs and signed up to become a service dog trainer. She is happy, doing an excellent job and I am proud of her. Many of these beautiful animals work with vets who have come home with PTSD and other serious injuries and are able to help them deal with the depression and fear they suffer from. They have something to teach humans about love, loyalty and support.

Zee said...

On the topic of dogs, a favorite quote of mine is

"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man." —Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar (Mark Twain)

This was certainly true of Suki's loveable mutt companion, The Waif. Rescued from a private "kennel" that got out of hand, the terrified little guy had to be dipped, bathed and groomed twice before we found out that he had white as well as black (actually, dark brown) markings.

We figure that he was some kind of cross with perhaps an Australian Shepherd.

Once he became convinced that he was now safe from abuse and starvation, he became the most faithful companion imaginable.

As clumsy as Suki was graceful, he could never figure out what to do with a ball or Frisbee. Toss him a little treat and it would just bounce off his head.

Mostly, he just seemed to chase (or maybe herd?) Suki around the back yard as she fetched and fetched and fetched some more.

I miss him as much as I miss Suki.

James F Traynor said...

And before I hit the sack, here's to Dian Fossey! And all the others like her, living and dead. said...


I hope all is well. I wanted to let you know about this great resource Healthline has about breast cancer. The resource includes a virtual tour on understanding the progression of breast cancer, from where it starts to how it affects the body.

You can see the guide here:

I thought this would be a great resource for your site and wanted to see if you could include it on your page:

Please let me know if this would be possible. I’m happy to answer any questions as well.

Thanks so much,
Maggie Danhakl • Assistant Marketing Manager
Healthline • The Power of Intelligent Health
660 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 | @Healthline | @HealthlineCorp

About Us: