to those asking, yes, brian montopoli can still kiss my ass. no, i am not upset about by ava and c.i.'s post.
they have a right to state an opinion. i disagree with it regarding brian montopoli but i do understand where they are coming from. even if i didn't understand, i'd still back and support them.
i was given a heads up as was jim, jess, ty and dona of the third estate sunday review. none of us needed a heads up because they stated very clearly at the start that they were speaking for themselves.
here's the basics. a joke they came up with in passing may or may not have hurt brian montopoli on a personal level because it may or may not have had some truth in it. they came up with the joke and they felt responsible.
they had alerted all of us to what was going on and why by mid-day and they were going to be taking notes for a review last night. since none of us objected, nor would we ever object to them saying what they wanted to, they went ahead and did that last night.
c.i. was already going to right about boy nags (i like that better than nag boy, by the way so i hope they continue to use boy nags) and the washington post thing which is no surprise because a) community member brad had asked for some comments and b) boy nags was a part of the outing of "george" and that is a topic c.i.'s addressed before.
so with no objections and talking about brian montopoli, they went ahead and wrote the thing they were thinking of writing later.
my personal feelings are that brian montopoli, young or not, is open season the way any 1 is but they felt it was similar to when they write a tv review and attempt to not critique child actors too strongly. check out their review of hope & faith and you'll see that they pin the problems with the daughters on the writing. that's because the daughters are played by young actresses who are not yet 18 and are not the stars of the show.
there thinking with brian is that if this came in about some 1 at the times, tough titty, they're grown up and they're established. but with brian montopoli he is still early in his journalism career and they'd much prefer to go after more 'worthy targets.'
i understand where they are coming from and i respect it. i disagree but i'm not upset.
my attitude is that brian montopoli is not a 'young journalist,' he is a journalist who is an adult.
and he is fair game the way any other journalist is.
but i also realize that candy perfume boy is their creation. they've created an entire character out of candy perfume boy and it's larger than life. when 1 aspect of the joke might have really upset brian montopoli, they felt very bad because they had been aiming the guns at that. if they upset montopoli it was the result of cross fire because they had not been trying to touch an issue that they had no idea of.
i'd also argue that having created candy perfume boy, they feel very loyal to their creation and see it as a commentary for good and the fact that it could cause harm in a non-journalistic criticism manner bothered them. this was a humorous way to do criticism of the press and the idea that it might have gone beyond that bothered them.
they're not worried that brian montopoli feels 'candy perfume boy is an embarrassment to me' and they aren't dropping the character. they love the character. but let's say brian was allergic to bananas and didn't want people to know and that, without knowing, they wrote a thing where candy perfume boy is rushed to the hospital after eating a banana, they would feel bad about that. they were just riffing and coming up with jokes and had no idea he was allergic to bananas.
now this detail that they came up with was causing him embarrassment and revealing something he'd prefer to keep private that has nothing to do with journalism.
that's what their statements regarding brian were about.
and they were aware the e-mail from the person claiming to be brian could be a crank.
jim wondered if a private e-mail to brian might not be the better way to go but c.i. and ava both felt that to do a private e-mail to him without telling readers could be compromising.
candy perfume boy is their creation. so if there was a problem with it, they wanted to deal with that and not run off to the safety of a private e-mail that readers or community members never knew of.
if it's nothing, and it may be nothing, they've noted it and noted that this is a joke and that they are actually fond of brian montopoli. or that they have grown fond of him which may be confusing their creation of candy perfume boy with brian montopoli himself. if that's the case, it happens with creative people and ava and c.i. are very creative.
they also are the 2 least jaded of all of us.
they do believe that most people can change. and with regards to brian montopoli they feel that he really just needs to focus on his true priorities and he won't fall into the fluff crowd.
again, i disagree. i think he's shown his true nature and don't give him a pass for being politically unaware. but i do understand why c.i. and ava do and i don't fault either of them for that. and with 2 degrees in poli sci, c.i.'s a better judge of politically unaware than am i.
jodi wilgoren got serious about her job. i see that as the exception. i'm a bit more pessimistic than c.i. or ava.
but this was their creation and they were using it to criticize journalism and rounding it out, with no knowledge of brian montopoli, to create this wonderful, funny character (which it is) and in the process some 1 e-mails that brian was truly upset by something that they created to flesh out the character because it happens to be true.
that's why they said that they can easily drop that. it's not central to the character. but they don't intend to drop the character.
a cokie roberts or some 1 on that level has spent their lives being irrelevant and making a mockery of "news." they could care less what cokie roberts thought of 1 of their jokes. but they see brian montopoli as a young journalist attempting to make his way and as such they felt bad that something they wrote might have been not just a joke but something very personal to brian montopoli.
if he responds will they note it? that's the 2nd biggest question i've gotten today. and i'm guessing it's payback for being lazy and having e-mail go to c.i.'s e-mail for so long and letting c.i. forward it to me lol.
if brian wanted to say something to the community they would note it. if he wrote a private e-mail it would be as private as any thing any 1 else wrote so it wouldn't be mentioned.
they are the creative 1s of all of us. they did their replies to e-mail last saturday in 1 hour and the bulk of that hour was waiting on replies from people they quoted to get permission. and in their e-mails they noted that they would be replying in a sarcastic manner.
there was a great reply they had to 1 crank but that crank didn't give permission so they cut that out. but i'd be surprised if they spent more than 15 minutes on it and yet it is funny and to the point. that's what creative people can do. and even with that, they wanted to be sure that every 1 who was quoted knew that if they were quoted, they'd be getting a smart remark back.
or look at the media roundtable where some 1 said, maybe it was me (it was ty, i just read over it), that randy cohen told us that daniel okrent was censured and c.i. had to correct that with cohen said he believed that or thought that.
sherry worried that the post might mean that c.i. was going to stop going after elisabeth bumiller or others. don't worry, sherry. those are professional, established journalists. it's the difference between nicole kidman and the kids on life with jim. they aren't going to go after kids. and that's how they see brian montopoli, as someone attempting to establish himself as a journalist. as such when they intentionally joke about something, they are joking about the writing, not the person. candy perfume boy is their creation and it is a means to criticize brian montopoli but it is not meant to be the inside dope on brian montopoli as a person.
laura was the only 1 who picked up on the most important point of the piece, or most important to me. c.i. has never outed the times reporter that screamed in an e-mail 'you are destroying my life!' but when the e-mail came in on smallville and ava noted it and how the e-mailer said 'that's the kind of writing you should be doing' c.i.'s face gave away that this was the person.
to me that's the point of the entry, the main point.
professional journalists want to whine, and did to howard kurtz, but when you are writing about a tv show in the same manner, they think that's fine. they think it's funny.
professional journalists are not above criticism and as c.i. and ava noted, that's the same sort of criticism they've long run in papers on authors, film makers, singers, etc. but when that same treatment is aimed at them, they want to cry foul.
i don't like barry manilow. but papers have felt no reason to criticize his work on a 'higher ground' plane. they've trashed him relentlessly. but somehow when adam nagourney is turned into the barry manilow of his profession, that's a 'foul.'
so when some reporter wants to say 'that was so cruel' about something about them but wants to go off and praise a smallville review that rips the show apart, in a very funny way, then what we're seeing is that the reporter feels there are 2 kinds of criticism, the kind for him and the kind for others.
it doesn't work that way.
1 line that got caught from the roundtable, or 1 section that got cut, had kat saying that journalists were once again becoming the new rock stars and c.i. replied that no, a few were becoming the new rock stars or rap stars and the rest of them were churning out easy listening crap.
i don't remember why that got cut. it was a very long transcript. we all worked on the 1st cut and it was in there then. ava and c.i. went off to write their review and the rest of kept working on shaping it and making it flow. a lot was left on the cutting floor. and when you're re-reading something for the 12th time, you're not noticing what's gone, just if it flows.
if i'd noticed that the section had dropped out, i would have argued for it to be put back in. i thought it went to the topic and i thought it was appropriate.
if you do your job well or even half-way and you write for the new york times main section, your byline has been mentioned. when people write me they say things like 'amy waldman wrote' or 'marc lacey wrote' and readers know the writers bylines. that's great and any writer should be excited by that. c.i. was making the point that we could probably list all the writers who regularly contribute to the times. could we have done that 10 months ago? no. but we can now and members of the common ills community can as well.
by the same token, if you're the journalistic equivalent of barry manilow, middle of the road, the way adam nagourney is, you're known for that. if you're the debby boone of the journalistic set, then elisabeth bumiller, that's what your known for.
if you're not happy with the image your work has created, that's your own fault. you don't get to be jimi hendrix (robert parry) or bob dylan (bob somerby) or aretha franklin (amy goodman), etc. without having dug deep.
a robert taylor e-mails me to say that we should all 'just shut up already!' mr. taylor feels that when honest mistakes are made, 'you all pile on like a pack of mad dogs.' i disagree. john f. burns has gotten sloppy and c.i. has noted that but c.i. has not piled on john f. burns like a pack of mad dogs. there is sloppy and then there is outright malpractice and those are the 1s that c.i. goes after. although juan forero gives c.i. a headache to c.i. usually avoids juan unless members are asking for comments. i'll bring that up in the next roundtable and hopefully it will make the final draft.
and let me repeat this since so many e-mails asked, i am not upset with ava and c.i. they addressed a concern in a manner they felt was ethical. jim, jess, dona and ty aren't upset. i doubt kat is but i haven't heard from her. (she really pours herself into those reviews and it can be hell trying to reach her immediately after she finishes one. and wasn't the tapestry review something?) but for those wondering, yes, brian montopoli can still kiss my ass.