With our most gracious and endearing apologies, we now present to you, in alphabetical order, the 22 Least Important Writers of 2013. Please enjoy, if possible.
All the Writers of Gawker.com
These self-styled web hooligans ride waves of phantom traffic generated by hiccups in the Facebook servers, which seem to be keenly tuned into the work of one viral savant who could kill the whole enterprise with a sick day. They gleefully attack the "establishment" media while feeding off its offerings, clueless to the fact that the dying media companies enduring their potshots were the only chance they ever had for a secure retirement or paying their kids' college tuitions. (Not to mention the thrills they get when any of the worthies they routinely mock return the jibes with a kind word, or any attention at all.) They'll all be replaced when Nick Denton buys Thought Catalog.
Less important than: The "Top Users" on the Buzzfeed Community Leaderboard
Daniel Barkeley is the editor-in-chief of the world's worst website, the Daily Currant, a "satire" publication whose stock-in-trade is unfunny bits of political and cultural wish-fulfillment, the viral success—"viral" meant as literally as possible—of which is a testament to how far a good lie will travel if lacks traditional markers of satire like "humor" or "jokes."
Less important than: People who just lie on Facebook.
Dylan Byers, a staff typist at The Politico, has been called, by this very website, the "dumbest media-news reporter in the business," the "world's grossest reporter," and "worthless." It isn't that we believe he's a nefariously intentioned individual, it's just that the former Adweek word-stringer is astoundingly clueless. Is it the way he frequently, and publicly, struggles with basic reading comprehension? Or the way he acts like the most insipid observations are astounding revelations? Or is the way that his first-draft sentences flow as gracelessly as phlegm—and he never bothers to clean up his writing?
He seems like a nice guy. Too bad Bazooka Joe wrappers have more insight.
Less important than: "Spud" at Inside Cable News
It is unclear exactly what the point of Richard Cohen is.
Less important than: Any one of the millions of other authority-worshipping old white guys who hate black people and want to fuck 20somethings.
Queen Bee of "me-centric angst dump" Thought Catalog—and lover of all lists loosely-related to the process of thinking—Senior Writer Chelsea Fagan, 24, continued to shock self-aware adults in 2013 with her increasingly sad advice for aspiring writers and lost young women. It's a tough job validating the egocentric psycho-maudlin musings of teenage girls, but Fagan never lets us down. Just keep doing you, Chelsea. Just keep doing you.
Less important than: A list of successful women in their 20s.
The medaled general of D.C.'s Reactionary Guard, Fournier has built a late-stage career out of accusing President Obama of failing, once again, to Lead Insane Republicans Who Hate Him. He'll write any headline — "Obama Wins! Big Whoop. Can He Lead?"; "What If Obama Can't Lead?"; "5 Reasons Why Obama Isn't Ready for Rushmore" — so long as racist recluse Miamian Matt Drudge links to it. The Serious Washington Moderate also implored Obama to dispatch a team of Navy SEALS to murder John Boehner.
Less important than: Mark Halperin's beard
Hyperconnected mustachioed soothsayer Tom F. has been writing the same god damn column for, hell, over a decade now, ever since it became clear that cab driving and cloud computing could come together to form something long enough to fill an 800-word hole on the New York Times op-ed page. We're actually rather fond of him now, in the same way that you might grow fond of an old dog that refuses to stop chasing its own tail until it vomits. He should be fired at once.
Less important than: Cloud computing, robotics, 3G wireless connectivity, Skype, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, the iPad, and cheap Internet-enabled smartphones.
North America's leading dispenser of business-uplifting semiscientific semijournalism hit a new "tipping point" of his own this year, when basically everyone outside his lucrative adopted habitat on the speaking circuit lost the ability to take him seriously. Maybe it was his "dyslexia is good for you" argument, maybe it was his tribal defense of Gladwell 2.0 fraudster Jonah Lehrer, maybe it was that at last he had managed to contradict himself on everything. Last seen openly arguing that "No" means "Yes," in the service of settling a grudge.
Less important than: Tim Ferriss.
Repeat Least Important Writer Chris Jones' year didn't quite top his 2012, during which the Esquire scribe asked his wife to start fucking better and deleted his blog because an intern criticized his prose style, but it came close. In January, Jones challenged the world's "shithearts" to 10 rounds of boxing; of course, the great writerer refused to actually fight the people who accepted his "standing offer." And when his Esquire piece on Zanesville failed to receive a National Magazine Award nomination (the award would eventually go to GQ's story on the same topic), Jones, who won two National Magazine Awards before turning 40, blamed "politics" and "enemies."
Less Important Than: Theodosis on Twitter.
Avatar of Washington media's inexhaustible tolerance for glaring conflicts of interest and Lauren Ashburn's giggling Fox News sidekick. Kurtz tries to "critique" "the media" but usually winds up accusing newly-out gay NBA players of HIDING THEIR HOMOSEXUALITY FROM THEIR LADY FIANCÉ HAR HAR HAR. Or confusing a Congressman's spokesman for the actual Congressman, or mistakenly labeling something that was reported five years ago a FOX NEWS EXCLUSIVE, or...detailing the Facebook photos of...Ben Bradlee's daughter-in-law? Sure.
Less important than: "Error establishing a database connection"
One nice thing you can say about startup-spooning Sarah Lacy is that her name really only comes up when it's time to talk about how wrong she is. Unfortunately, that's been very often: union-bashing, startup-slobbering, Twitter apologizing, and generally positioning herself as the least authoritative loudmouth in Silicon Valley. The only humane thing she did this year was hire some soon-to-be-unemployed friends, but she's still the sort of person who would pick a hyped app over her own child.
"If the braces-wearing asthmatic in Bunk 6 wanted to convince her fellow campers she had experienced quite a ton of sex in loads of different fashions and such, what sorts of improbable, anatomically incorrect fictions might she invent to support that point? PS She's also schizophrenic." This is the question that official New York Observer sex columnist and serious non-virgin Jasmine Lobe attempts to answer every few weeks or so, on a schedule as regular as a highly irregular period, in her hallucinatory dream journal, "The J-Spot." At its inception this past fall, Lobe's column got off to a start that was not as much shaky as violently, shudderingly convulsive—not unlike the wild orgasm that erupts from a woman's bellybutton (?) when a man rubs his butt on her butt (?). A rambling story about flying from LA to New York was illustrated with a cartoon sex kitten rendering of the author perched sexily atop a pile of sexy suitcases literally overflowing with thongs and bras (bras which presumably would later cradle the swollen breasts that, in the drawing, protrude from her neck like goiters). Also inserted alongside the text (apropos of nothing): a real life photograph of Lobe sitting next to "Homeland star Claire Danes" at an event sponsored by Grey Goose. No penetration occurred in that inaugural column, though our bra-ful narrator did masturbate while fantasizing about a man masturbating. With lines like, "He goes down on me while I grab his hair and stroke his eyelashes," it's probably a blessing that she was not called upon to describe the act of coitus. Most confusingly of all: Jasmine Lobe's story was written in the first person from the point of view of a woman named "Julia" and—briefly and out of nowhere—also in the third person. Things only got worse from there.
Less important than: The least important person Candace Bushnell will cheek-kiss today.
Somewhere around the time Manjoo crossed over from Slate's resident male makeup enthusiast to a tech columnist for the Wall Street Journal, his standard issue contrarianism turned downright dopey. Dry-erase boards are Silicon Valley's secret weapon, teleconferencing software can make meetings fun, and people like buying Apple products (and Neetzan is great at blogging), he declares with equal parts awe and obliviousness. But Manjoo's Twitter account is where his newfound naiveté really shines. It reads like he's been huffing the fumes of a hundred Business Insider slideshows and came out thinking Twitter is where you fill out IT tickets. At this point, the sight of his stipple portrait in your stream invites a visceral "What now with this yokel?"
Less important than: The fake Google bus guy.
When you get your PhD in early modern drama, there's really only one thing to do: Prove you're just one of the average joes with regular columns in Esquire. Having muddled along there, the magazine assigned Stephen Marche a cover profile of Megan Fox, elsewhere dubbed The Worst Thing Ever Written. In it, he described the actress as a "sexual prop" and proudly mansplained to her how she is like an Aztec sacrifice. At least he appears to like her more than he likes his own wife, whose idiosyncrasies he regularly serves up with warmed over SAT-word salad.
Less important than: Esquire's two-page Cialis ad insert.
Breathy Reaganite Peggy Noonan lives in a country. America? Yes, that's the one. Peggy Noonan lives in this great nation, America, in the year 1896, which is why she is shocked by race-mixing and hotels and electricity and statistics. Peggy Noonan is one of the most incisive columnists of the 19th century.
Less important than: The Hon. Norman Jay Coleman, the Secretary of Agriculture under Grover Cleveland.
Farcical Pulitzer Prize winner Kathleen Parker believes that racial profiling is "common sense" and that black people are riot-prone. If Kathleen Parker's own beliefs were true, she would have been tarred and feathered by a righteously angry mob long ago.
Less important than: An imaginary black best friend.
As a writer, xoJane editor/matriarch Jane Pratt has some irritating quirks. She can be cheerily vacant ("I think our website was pretty great this week."). She thinks posting what the site didn't write about is interesting, so she does that every week. This often comes with a re-explanation of why ("I am so very into showing you guys how the behind-the-scenes stuff becomes front-of-the-scenes stuff (or should I just say 'the scene?') and that's why I publish this list every Saturday"), an explanation of how the sausage behind the sausage gets made. She confirms that New York profile from last year and acts like a star-fucker, regularly dropping names—i.e., "I stayed with my friend Courteney while I was out there, which also means we try to talk as much as possible and therefore sleep as little as possible. (And there was no other reason to tell you that than for the name-drop, not even well woven-in. I will do better next time, I promise. But she is doing great.)"
But her worst offense is that she's only those quirks – while encouraging her stable of writers and commenters (via open threads) to bleed their feelings into content, she reveals virtually nothing about herself. (Oh, except that she's only been asked six times to pose nude professionally.) Hers is a cult of personality without her personality. A great gig if you can finagle it.
Less important than: THE HATERS.
The millionaire sports opinion-haver put the emphasis on family this year. He welcomed Colin Kaepernick to the Super Bowl with a column demanding to know why the young quarterback hadn't tried to get to know his biological parents, the way Reilly's own adopted daughter had. He used his wife to do his reporting legwork for him via Twitter. Then, perfectly combining his signature habits of glib bullshitting and utter laziness, he declared that the name "Redskins" was OK (not mentioning that this contradicted the position he'd loudly and idly taken before on the issue) because his Native American father-in-law had told him it was OK—apparently without checking the claim with his father-in-law, who publicly disputed it. Who has time for reporting when you're on TV?
Less important than: Ray Lewis
The grumpy old man of turn-of-the-century warblogging, Andrew Sullivan still has his fans. But having bounced his blog around from TIME to The Atlantic to the Daily Beast to its current "paywall" site run by Sullivan himself, the declining returns of his particular brand of preachy warmongering, apologies for warmongering, jabbering about Catholicism and complaining about New York City have been revealed. Just 30,880 people had subscribed to his Daily Dish as of November 1. Sullivan's "Mini-Me," Ross Douthat, put the nail in the coffin this summer when he named Sullivan "the most influential political writer of his generation."
Less important than: Ross Douthat.
Less important than: Stan, the title character of Dog with a Blog.
Career provocatrix Elizabeth Wurtzel desperately wants you to know she was Somebody. In the last year, the Prozac Nation author has shared, in any outlet that would allow her, many things about herself, including that she found herself in a Harvard University marketing brochure, listed among literary greats like T. S. Eliot, John Updike, and Henry David Thoreau. And that she almost definitely rode the pony baloney of Replacements' headcase Paul Westerberg, as well as married songwriter Rhett Miller. And that she is terribly disappointed in today's youth because "Lena Dunham with her inexcusable thighs" are one of "the only twentysomething success story in the world of high art and entertainment"—and this is important because when she was that age, she was wilder, crazier, more daring, and more romantically frenzied, which is what made her Somebody in the first place, so.
What Wurtzel doesn't want you to know is that the Internet has made smart brand of batshit narcissism mostly irrelevant. And that making fun of Lena Dunham's legs make her feel better about her own cruel quarrel with aging. And that now, at age 46, one of her publishers is Thought Catalog, which makes her a peer to Brianna Wiest. And that none of these things would be so bad if Wurtzel weren't so desperate to remind you how great she once was, rather than attempting to do new things that are actually great.
Less important than: Cat Marnell
Matthew Yglesias is not so much a writer as a dada thought experiment: What if Andy Rooney was a private-schooled trust-funder who was paid to cross-post Yelp reviews on Slate and interpret Thomas Friedman for D.C.-based millennials with bachelors' degrees?
Less important than: Andy Rooney's rant against bottled water.
[Image by Jim Cooke. Previously.]