The Unbearable Whiteness of Being Maureen Dowd

Jeffrey Lord, American Spectator, July 21, 2009

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You know all those fevered editorials they churn out over there at the New York Times editorial board? Like, for instance, the hot fury published on June 30 wonderfully titled “Firefighters and Race.”

In this jewel the Times editorial board makes its displeasure plain in the very first sentence, huffing that the Supreme Court decision in favor of the New Haven firemen has “dealt a blow to diversity in the American workplace.” This was followed by a July 14th column by Times columnist Dowd titled “White Man’s Last Stand,” to which we will return shortly.

But first, let’s get the meat into the stew. You can just smell that sizzling hypocrisy, can’t you?

It seems the “American workplace” (to use the Times description) that is the New Haven fire department has a higher percentage of minorities than the American workplace that is . . . yes indeed . . . the New York Times editorial board its very self. To be quite specific:

o The New Haven fire department, according to press accounts, is 43% black and Latino. Or, if you prefer the term of art, 43% of the fire department is “minority.”

o The New York Times editorial board, according to the information provided by The New York Times, is–wait for it–12% black and Latino. Or, again, 12 % “minority” if you prefer the term.

o The New York Times Op-Ed page team of columnists, an elite group of which Ms. Dowd is a star, is 19% black and, again according to the Times listing of its Op-Ed page columnists, 0% Latino.

That’s right. At the core of the beating intellectual heart of the left-wing establishment where such things are studied with the detail of Talmudic scholars, the New Haven fire department is doing more than three times better on race than the very liberal elites who have set themselves up as its sniffy critics. Perhaps instead of seething about “Firefighters and Race” the Times would have been better served by pondering “Editorial Writers and Race.” Or perhaps: “Too Black to Write; New York Times Column Writing and Race.”

According to the New York Times, its editorial board has 17 members. Of those 17, fifteen–say again, 15 of the 17–are whiter than white on rice. This includes the very white Andrew Rosenthal who runs it, carrying the title of “Editorial Page Editor.”

That’s roughly an 88% white hiring record for Rosenthal. Frank Ricci and his fellow white New Haven firemen would have had a better shot writing editorials for the Times than fighting fires for the dwindling number of Times readers in New Haven. After all, the percentage of whites at the New Haven fire department is just 57%.

But don’t worry–tokenism is alive and well at the Times. “White Rosie,” as we’ll call Mr. Rosenthal here with deference to a Dowd-like racial sensibility, has managed to make room for one Mexican and the inevitable token black to fill the other two seats in the Times version of “diversity in the American workplace.” Amazingly enough, that one black on the Times editorial board matches exactly the number of blacks in the ranks of New Haven’s 21 fire captains. One. There might still be a Latino captain in New Haven to match up with the Times’ Mexican–but only thanks to the Supreme Court and the hard-studying candidate himself, Lieutenant Ben Vargas. The Times rooted to keep Vargas out.

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OK then. Point taken. The Dowd standard–and that of the Times–is to judge people by race. Got it. Will do.

So how does the Times stable of Op-Ed columnists stack up against the standards “White Mo” Dowd sets for the rest of us? You know, one’s race being critical in order “to bring a fresh perspective” and avoid the “disgrace” of being “stocked with white men.”

Of the eleven columnists the Times advertises as its team of Op-Ed page writers, nine are whites. Of those nine, seven are–ouch!–the disgracefully whitest of white men! Which is another way of saying 81% of the Times Op-Ed columnists are white (White Mo included) and 77% of the columnist team is, to use White Mo’s phrase about the Supreme Court, “stocked with white men”–guys like Frankly White Rich who are as white as sheets. If one is obsessed with viewing everyone and everything in America through the prism of race, then the 88% white New York Times editorial board and the white paper’s stable of 81% white columnists clearly don’t read their own editorials. No wonder Black Bob Herbert is so cranky all the time. One of the two black tokens on the Op-Ed page, Black Bob is forced to work with more white guys than David Duke. Black Bob would actually see more black faces if his white bosses let him take the company limo and its black driver over to New Haven to catch the next five-alarm. As for a wise Latina or Latino on the page? Nada.

{snip} She somehow must hope the rest of us have forgotten that neither White Mo nor the whiteys writing those Times editorials with White Rosie wanted the only black man now sitting on the US Supreme Court to be there at all. Justice Clarence Thomas’s very nomination, the Times foamed at the time in language worthy of The Birth of a Nation, was designed to “incite.” {snip}

So too did White Mo’s white editorialist sheet mates burn an editorial cross or two to denigrate Miguel Estrada, the Bush choice for the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia. Fearing the Harvard-educated legal star and Latino Mr. Estrada would get to the point that Sonia Sotomayor is at today–the Times demanded that it was both “compelling” and “necessary” to defeat a Hispanic man. Their unsurprising sentiments were the same as those of their white male Democratic allies on the Senate Judiciary Committee. In an internal Senate Democratic memo, Mr. Estrada was described as “dangerous” because he was “Latino.” {snip}

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It is remarkable when you think of it. To get Dowdy about it, White Mo’s social life has occasionally made the New York Post’s Page Six gossip column over the years. Why? Because she was linked to–yes–white guys. These stories never tie her to, say, the rakish and black Marion Barry. No Black Diddy for White Mo. It was white Barbara Walters who did the deed with the first black Senator of the 20th century–a Republican to boot. White Mo just always popped into the gossip columns displaying this thing for white guys. There was the white actor Michael Douglas episode. Douglas, the son and grandson of white Russians, is now said to be married, interestingly enough, to a white Welsh woman. There was time with the white male Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing. The Great White Sork at least wrote a part for a black person, albeit as the president’s body guy, not the president.

Then there were the stories about White Mo and Times white guy, the now Ex-Executive Editor Howell Raines, he of the Blair Niche Project.

For those readers who came in late, White Raines hired a young writer of African-American descent named Jayson Blair not because of his writing skills but because, in typical left-wing fashion dating back to slavery, White Raines judged people by skin color. A fellow white Timesman allowed that race was indeed “the decisive factor” in White Raines’s decision to hire Black Blair. The niche the Black Blair was discovered to have filled was plagiarism flavored with fabrication, and the resulting scandal cost White Mo’s white male friend White Raines his job.

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What’s a white girl to do with all this whiteness in her life? What else? Party with white people!

According to the news reports of the Obama inaugural period, the guest list for White Mo’s Georgetown house party had more white guys standing obediently in line to get in the door than are still active on the Ku Klux Klan’s roster. The White Man’s real last stand, it seems, was at White Mo’s. The line included whiteys Tom Hanks, Tom Brokaw, Larry David, David Geffen, Rahm Emanuel, Andrew Sullivan (the latter accompanied by someone appropriately named Tone) and . . . well, you get the idea. There were surely some blacks or Latinos there in a capacity other than serving the canap├ęs, even if they didn’t get their names in the press. {snip}

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Perhaps White Mo takes the time to ponder these problems while secluded in the upscale white enclave of a city that the last census figures reported was 61% black. White Mo’s white Georgetown precincts, according to census data from 2000, were a Klavernesque 3.8% black. Heaven forbid that she’d have her house parties in the ‘hood over in Anacostia (97% black) or even Capitol Hill, which was 46% black in the same year all those hated Bushies began flooding the neighborhoods to get down with the even more despised Reaganites still there from the 1980s. Reaganites living side-by-side with African-Americans? Stop the white liberal presses! Call the stereotype police!

In fairness it really isn’t fair to single out White Mo on matters racial, even though she has led us there. White Mo’s white woes are in fact emblematic of the mainstream media in general, a place where judging people by skin color is a cherished value as long as it’s New Haven firemen under the microscope. But not so much–actually not much at all–if it’s their white media job, their white paper, their white television network or their white Internet site that is to be subjected to this scrutiny.

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Here’s a test. Think of these faces as promoted on the liberal cable networks MSNBC and CNN: Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz, Dylan Ratigan, Joe Scarbrough, Mika Brzezinski, Chris Matthews, Anderson Cooper, Larry King. Wolf Blitzer. John King. Lou Dobbs. Think of the faces reading you the news on the broadcast networks–Charlie Gibson at ABC, Katie Couric at CBS and Brian Williams at NBC. A PBS fan? That would be the estimable Jim Lehrer. Sunday news shows? George Stephanopoulos at ABC, Bob Schieffer at CBS and David Gregory at NBC. Quick: what color are the faces attached to these names?

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Seventeen mainstream media news shows–hosted by eighteen very white faces. To do the percentages, that’s 100% of these shows being hosted by whites. For that matter , the next time you catch a live feed of the white White House press secretary’s daily briefing, count the non-white faces in the White House press corps staring back at the white man on the podium. You have one hand, don’t you? Fox is not included in this line-up because of the obvious: as its liberal enemies love to point out, Fox is not liberal. Whether you believe Fox to be “conservative” or “fair and balanced”–in either case, racial quotas are neither. Fox is the place where Latino Geraldo Rivera stars in his own prime time show. Shockingly there are lots of people out there in the Fox audience who think of Geraldo as–brace yourselves–Geraldo. Just Geraldo. Not Geraldo Hispanic. Not Geraldo Latino. Just Geraldo Rivera, journalist. Imagine that.

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Why, this white boy wonders, is this very white woman still writing this very white column for the very white Times in the first place? Why isn’t her column given to some hot young aspiring-to-be-wise and very liberal Latina instead of White Mo? Why do white guy columnists get most of the column inches at the white run Times? Why not replace all of them–maybe all but one, just to be quota-ish–with black guys and dolls, Latinas/Latinos and an Asian or two to liven things up for poor Black Bob? If the Times were really up to its own imaginary standards, it would hire a gay black or Latina/Latino to replace the Frankly White Rich, he who tries hiding his whiteness by writing volumes on gays. {snip}

Why is the idea of ceding her column to a young Latina presumably a “no go” with White Mo? {snip}

White Mo will be staying at the New York Times because there is not the slightest intention to quota her out of her job in the same way White Mo and her white buds at the Times wanted to quota white fireman Frank Ricci and his white colleagues out of theirs. If one is to adopt White Mo’s standard of judging by race, there is at the Times precisely what White Mo professes to see elsewhere but curiously not in her own work place: a white “code” and a white “club.” The white guy owning the paper will hold on because his white family, the white heirs and heiresses of Adolph the White, want it that way. The white guy running the white editorial board will not be running a less than majority white board, the list of columnists will never be all non-white, and the blindingly white Bill Keller and Jill Abramson will still be two things: white and in charge. {snip}

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[Editor’s Note: Maureen Dowd’s column “White Man’s Last Stand” can be read here. The New York Times’s June 30 editorial “Firefighters and Race” is available here.]

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