High Life

Of Hacks and Hatchet Jobs

September 20, 2013

Multiple Pages
Of Hacks and Hatchet Jobs

GSTAAD—Why are hacks scared to state the obvious? In Britain, strict libel laws give them an excuse. But in America? To win a libel case over there, one has to prove malice aforethought, and I don’t know many journalists who would admit it and go down the Suwannee.

Take the case that has been hogging the headlines lately, that of the 2022 Soccer World Cup and its Qatari venue. Qatar gets rather hot in the summer, hot enough to kill an athlete exerting himself for glory and the root of all envy. Fifty degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) means more players will damage their tickers for good than there are name-droppers in Hollywood.

Rob Hughes, a respected British football commentator, calls it “not a responsible thing to do.” He writes that a small group of men got together and decided that Qatar was the best place to hold the tournament. What I’d like to know is why he doesn’t write that a small group of men took bribes from the family that owns Qatar and voted as they were told.

“Why are hacks scared to state the obvious?”

Ah, but how does one prove that? Bribery is not publicly conducted, at least not where FIFA (the world soccer governing body) is concerned. Well, a Greek proverb asks, “What animal goes meow, meow on a tiled roof?” The fact that moolah changed hands is as obvious as the cat on a hot Qatari roof.

To choose the sweaty hellhole of Qatar over bids by Australia, the US, Japan, and South Korea is like choosing Hillary Clinton over Keira Knightley—one would do it only for the money. Although Qatar promised air-conditioned stadiums and other such chimeras, it has yet to deliver the few million it promised the concentration camp of Gaza.

Fortunately, there is always a funny side to such matters, like Greg Dyke (head of the English Football Association) announcing that England can win the World Cup in 2022. As of this writing, England has only beaten Moldova and San Marino—two of the greatest football powers ever–and tied the Ukraine. If England wins in nine years’ time, I will qualify at age 86 and win Wimbledon the same year. Taki’s Mag readers would do better betting on my chances rather than those of the poor old English team.

Nope, hacks would rather play it safe and not state the obvious, as in the case of, say, Tina Brown. Michael Wolff is an American media analyst and writer—he also has a very pretty girlfriend—and I had a chat with him during a summer party last July. I asked him about Tina Brown and Arianna Huffington. Wolff, who is not known for pulling his punches (his biography of Rupert Murdoch had Rupee Baby pissing bullets), threw his hands up in the air and made bubbling noises. In other words, no one can understand how those two broads get away with it. (Well, Tina no longer.)

The fact is that not too many hacks have gone out of their way to point out that Tina, who is always referred to as a legendary editor in America, has lost more money for the owners of the magazines she has edited than Qatar used as bribery money to get the tournament. She almost broke Harvey Weinstein with Talk magazine—fifty million big ones in two years—ditto with The New Yorker and Vanity Fair before that. She has cost another sugar daddy, Barry Diller, at least 100 million since 2008 with The Daily Beast and Newsweek. He finally pulled the plug on her, but what the hell, what’s a hundred million big ones anyway? She’s a legend, as they say in Hollywood.

Which brings me to Graydon Carter and the preening Gwyneth Paltrow. Graydon has been a friend of mine for thirty years, but I can’t stand La Paltrow. “Vanity Fair is threatening to put me on the cover,” cries the one I can’t stand, as if going on the cover of a best-selling monthly is an unacceptable chore. She’s an actress, for God’s sake, and publicity is her lifeline.

What Paltrow wants and Carter won’t give is an assurance that the piece on her will be a groveling ass-kiss job worthy of HELLO! or other such celebrity-lickers. VF used to do such soft-focus celebrity coverage, and Graydon has rightfully been trying to change that. Who started the trend of celebrity worship in print? Step forward Tina Brown, or as we well-raised Englishmen call her, Lady Evans. Tina signed a Faustian pact with Hollywood agents long ago: She would have access to the stars, and the articles would be hagiographies. It was as simple as that. But readers smelled a rat right away. After all, how does one out-hello HELLO!? Graydon Carter is doing the right thing, and I think most of us can live without seeing Paltrow on a VF cover.

So the next time you read a story that makes some celebrity sound like our Lord Jesus or you hear that a future Olympics will take place in Dubai, rest assured that the fix is in. I’m not advocating hatchet jobs; that’s for cheap, anti-free-enterprise sheets such as The Guardian in Britain and the Times in Noo Yawk. The latter is going nuts that Uncle Sam’s legions and arms will not be supporting Syria’s jihadists, who are paid for by the Gulf kleptocracies. But hacks should tell it as it is, like our very own Jim Goad and the rest do week in and week out. Yippee!


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