After my little reflection on the declining state of contemporary American media, a friend sent me a link to a Weekly Standard article in which Joseph Epstein comes to pretty much the same conclusion about the NY Times.
Epstein uses a fair amount of what some would surely call sexist language and compares the paper to an aging whore:
The New York Times used to be called the Gray Lady of American newspapers. The sobriquet implied a certain stateliness, a sense of responsibility, the possession of high virtue. But the Gray Lady is far from the grande dame she once was. For years now she has been going heavy on the rouge, lipstick, and eyeliner, using a push-up bra, and gadding about in stiletto heels. She’s become a bit—perhaps more than a bit—of a slut, whoring after youth through pretending to be with-it. I’ve had it with the old broad; after nearly 50 years together, I’ve determined to cut her loose.
It’s a witty piece and worth reading. Epstein is not all that impressed by Maureen Dowd, and calls Anna Quindlen “termagantial” (hennish).
Every so often I check to remind myself that Maureen Dowd isn’t amusing, though she is an improvement, I suppose, over the termagantial Anna Quindlen, whom I used to read with the trepidation of a drunken husband mounting the stairs knowing his wife awaits with a rolling pin. I’d sooner read the fine print in my insurance policies than the paper’s perfectly predictable editorials. Laughter, an elegant phrase, a surprising sentiment—the New York Times op-ed and editorial pages are the last place to look for any of these things.
Getting to the heart of the matter, Epstein links the descent of mainstream media with the descent of America itself, and I couldn’t agree more:
I could go on about the artificial rage of Frank Rich—the liberals’ Glenn Beck—or the forced gaiety of “Sunday Styles,” but the main feeling I have as I rise from having wasted an hour or so with the Sunday New York Times is of what wretched shape the country is in if it is engaged in such boringly trivial pursuits, elevating to eminence such dim cultural and political figures, writing so muddledly about ostensibly significant subjects.
America truly is becoming a mediocre place. In my relatively short lifetime, I’ve seen first-hand the descent of our national dialog into frivolity, triviality and irrelevance. I suppose that’s what happens when you remove certain masculine concepts such as dignity, honor and restraint and replace them with snarky gossip and a soap opera sensibility.