Here are my personal favorite media moments of 2005:
: Harvard president Larry Summers suggests men may be better at science than women, prompting a flurry of media hand-wringing. No one worries about the media’s role spreading general scientific illiteracy, which affects men as well as women and seems rather a bigger problem. The ever credulous Dan Rather, for instance, once soberly introduced a segment about a “backyard tinkerer” who claimed to have built a perpetual motion machine, “and you know, some people think that just maybe he has.”
One year after Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction,” Hollywood still frets that any public-decency restrictions will have a “chilling effect.” But is a chilling effect always so terrible? In the case of a wet blanket thrown over a trashcan fire it can actually be quite welcome. Not, I suppose, if you’re the vagrant who started the fire. But I say my right not to smell a noxious fire in the alley outweighs the vagrant’s right to a weenie roast.
I discover I’m included in some lefty blog’s nominations for world’s worst blogger. By “worst” what these types really mean is “rightwing blogger that most gets under their skin.” But naturally I’m pleased to be there, even if I’m only mentioned as having a “head like a Q-tip.” (Too big? Too small? I guess it’s a reference to my hair.)
Then I notice I’m called “the lady from hell” in a Reason Hit & Run post, apparently because I appeared on the same Dennis Miller panel as Reason editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie. This gives me an idea for a Scarlet Pimpernel-inspired epigraph:
Will she rise to heaven?
Or sink like lead?
That damned, elusive Q-tip head.
APRIL: The gay magazine The Advocate runs a story about blogs and writer David Ehrenstein lists mine as one of his ten favorites. I must have some sort of diva-like, Call Me Miss Seipp appeal to gay men, since I’m the only right-winger in the Advocate piece.
MAY: Lawrence O’Donnell screams at me on Dennis Miller, after I doubt his claim that every single teacher at his daughter’s public charter elementary school is “GREAT!” (And maybe all the children there are above average?) Since the Miller show was cancelled shortly after that, I’m grateful my encounter with O’Donnell and his throbbing neck veins got in just under the wire. Had I missed it, I would have felt like a radio announcer who lost his job just before the Hindenberg exploded.
JUNE: I turn my “Larry O’Scary” moment (as Michelle Malkin dubs it) into an L.A. Times op-ed, writing that O’Donnell
managed to cram several levels of nonsense into a few minutes of air time: that the few lucky parents whose kids attend the city’s handful of elite public elementary schools affect poll numbers or are typical of California public school parents generally; that bellowing out the name of your small child’s school (“Canyon Charter School!”) on national TV is a good idea; that charter schools in neighborhoods like this pricey enclave near Santa Monica, where homes typically cost $3 million (meaning property taxes can be more than private school tuition) are, in any practical sense, really public schools at all.
JULY: Law professor/blogger Ann Althouse begins grim crusade against Pajamas Media.
The mail brings about a dozen envelopes with checks for $17.39 from AFTRA. It seems the foreign rights to Dennis Miller were just sold and these were extra payments for that. I don’t know what they’re going to make of Lawrence O’Donnell popping his neck veins at me in Tonga, or wherever, but I’m happy to get the money.
AUGUST: My favorite media gossip blog, Media Bistro’s FishbowlLA, frets about the L.A. Weekly’s famously self-promoting Hollywood columnist: “Something historically unprecedented happened this weekend–or didn’t happen, depending on how you look at it. Nikki Finke was mentioned in the media, and FishbowlLA did not receive one or more emails from Nikki Finke pointing it out. If anyone knows where she lives, can they drop by and make sure she’s okay?”
SEPTEMBER: The Huffington Post’s Greg Gutfeld notes: “Bob Denver died. Damn. Now who is going to play Cindy Sheehan in the movie? Paul Hogan?”
OCTOBER: ABC’s Commander in Chief displays a remarkable bit of east-coast elitism. The nervous blonde female press secretary character has fired her resentful male deputy after he got drunk and yelled that he should have her job, because he went to Harvard and she went to UC Santa Barbara.
Instead of responding with something like, “I was accepted at Harvard; I chose Santa Barbara,” the press secretary snaps, “You should check your sources. I was born in Santa Barbara; I graduated from Princeton.”
I went to UCLA, so that’s it for me and Commander in Chief.
NOVEMBER: My friend Sandra Tsing Loh, a public-radio commentator much loved by Democrats, goes on the warpath against PEN for excessive limousine liberalism. “Since when did PEN USA become the strict provenance if not plaything of Moneyed Blue Left Coast Elites?” she writes them, declining an invitation to a fundraising dinner honoring Gore Vidal. “This event looks to me like high-priced career hob-nobbing with a comforting frisson of global political correctness.”
DECEMBER: Reviewing Brokeback Mountain in Newsweek, film critic David Ansen writes about director Ang Lee: “Maybe because he’s not an American, the Taiwanese-born director is neither afraid of the material nor impressed with himself for ‘daring’ to make it.” Now there’s a thought: Gay cowboys more at home on the range in relaxed, transgressive Taiwan than the bad old homophobic U.S. Bonus points: Ansen’s air quotes around “daring.”
The Los Angeles Times runs an excruciatingly clueless feature about blogging and, to their credit, an op-ed by me the next week taking them to task for it. Ann Althouse suspects my piece is a thinly disguised piece of propaganda for Pajamas Media. Bonus points: She also describes the blogosphere as “beautiful.”
– Catherine Seipp is a writer in California who publishes the weblog Cathy’s World. She is an NRO contributor.