The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, June 14, 2004

Where's the Wilgoren Watch when you need it?

Being a kibitzer, I was never able to empathise with the red mist that descended on tracts of Dems on reading pieces by the New York Times' Jodi Wilgoren. Hers is a name that lives in infamy over at the Daily Howler. And, for a while, she even boasted her own watchblog - now defunct.

I suspect she likes nothing better than pulling the Donkey's tail. How else to explain the lede of her piece yesterday:
Like a caged hamster, Senator John Kerry is restless on the road. He pokes at the perimeter of the campaign bubble that envelops him, constantly trying to break out for a walk around the block, a restaurant dinner, the latest movie.

I know nothing worth knowing about hamsters, except that, according to a vet docusoap, they are the heartsink patient par excellence: the bite is sudden, excruciatingly painful, and incredibly difficult to release, at least by ethical methods.

Will Dems - the excitable, blogospherical Dems, in particular - find Wilgoren's reference a subtle tribute to their candidate's tenacity? Somehow, I doubt it.

Particularly given the hed [1]:
Kerry Behind the Scenes: Restless, Multisyllabic

I assume that the piece is intended as a piece of humour. At random:
At 60, Mr. Kerry is an avid and able athlete, though he sometimes seems physically awkward, with custom-made clothes hanging off his lanky frame as he pumps a fist at rallies.

If it were a piece of straight journalism, any copy-editor worth his salt would have cut that sophomoric alliteration straight off the bat!

The gag seems to be that Kerry is a lordly quasi-Brahmin, who struggles to communicate with the frightful oiks whose votes he requires: as he condescends to them, Wilgoren condescends to him. In any case, the condescension is there, in jereboam-fuls - whether he's acting his class - multisyllabically - or trying to make conversation with the plebs.

I don't know where in the paper the piece ran - it's clearly feature rather than news in style and content - or, indeed, what purpose it was intended to serve when Wilgoren was tasked to produce it. (I doubt whether her editors asked for a humour piece.)

In any case, it's jinxed, in its online version, at least; another graf of Kerry talking baseball in the language of an elderly member of the MCC [2], and the piece comes to a sudden stop:
He was happy when the conversation turned back to baseball, chatting with a fellow Sox fan about the pros and cons of the seats now available above the Green Monster, the short left field fence at Fenway Park. "I would miss the thwack of the ball and the crack of the bat," he mused.

But M

  1. Pedantry Corner: the more usual word is certainly polysyllabic. But multisyllabic also exists; though, on the Webster's site, only in the pay-only section.

  2. The Marylebone Cricket Club, home of cricket, located at Lord's (the ground - rather than park, as for baseball) in St John's Wood, a short walk from the Regent's Park Zoo.


Wilgoren, I see, was the author of the (I now remember) infamous Kerry's butler piece (Howler - and another blog piece headed Is Jodi Wilgoren a Plagiarist?). My curiosity to follow up is extinguished by the fact that there is apparently no copy extant online outside the grim walls of the Times pay-Lubianka. It's referenced several times by various blogs but none uses the Userland gizmo which preserves Times article links. Damn!

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