Us Weekly's (amusingly) gratuitously aggressive coverage of Sarah Palin has triggered a full-blown culture war! We have some of the vicious hate mail to prove it. (From "Juno.com" email addresses, to lend the whole saga a somewhat literary flourish!) That lady Ted Kennedy killed is invoked. So is some language too hot for Peggy Noonan! Some notable specimens and a message for Janice Min after the jump.
From: "mark armitage" <——@juno.com> Date: September 3, 2008 9:58:33 PM EDT Subject: your coverage of Bristol's pregnancy Dear Ms. Min, I am just simply thrilled that you folks have been so focused on Bristol Palin's pregnancy. It is rewarding to me that you liberals consider the plight of the unwed pregnant mother - so much so that you would put it on your cover. Amazing. So let's have a close look at another unwed, pregnant mother, Mary Joe Keopeckne - who has no one to speak for her today because TED KENNEDY KILLED HER. Why don't you talk about that, since you are so concerned about the plight of the unwed mother? This is your chance to completely avoid the charge of hypocrisy by holding yourself to the standard you have yourself erected. So let's see a cover devoted to that unwed mother Ms. Min. Do the right thing. Mark Armitage, M.S., Ed.S Los Angeles
And this slightly more direct message, from:
From: "Ella Wilmore" <———@gt.rr.com> Date: September 3, 2008 6:34:22 PM EDT Subject: You've got nerve, I'll give you that. How dare you imply by your Sarah Palin cover headline: "Babies, Lies & Scandal" that there's any kind of scandal surrounding this candidate. I'll never read your piece of shit magazine again. You extreme liberal assholes keep on enjoying each other's company. You are all nothing but scum. Read U. Talk U? How about FUCK U.
Okay Janice, my 295 cents:
From: "Moe Tkacik" <——@gawker.com> Date: September 4, 2008 12:00:33 PM EDT Subject: your coverage of Bristol's pregnancy You actually blew it here. As I pointed out yesterday, some sort of alarm should have sounded when you saw these headlines lined up last week: COVER STORY: Sarah Palin: Political Opponent Recalls Being Ridiculed EXCLUSIVE: Cindy McCain's Half Sister: I'm Voting For Barack Obama EXCLUSIVE: Tim Gunn: "No Contest" - Michelle has better style than Cindy Father Of Bristol Palin's Baby: I Don't Want Kids Seriously, I don't think I've ever seen such an absurd collection of stories in my life in this country and I used to work at the Washington Times.* Because the Washington Times, while it would have gone out of its way to tout "exclusive interviews" with the enemies of its political targets and most certainly would have published any and all incriminating status information from the MySpace pages of its political enemies' teenage daughters' sperminators, has never dissed one of Michelle Obama's outfits. Admittedly, I haven't conducted any focus groups on the matter; maybe there is a vast untapped demand out there for a left-leaning Daily Mail. More likely, taking into consideration your recent tone-deaf snooty comments about how Us Weekly has "proven" that not all supermarket tabloid readers are "obese" Red State housewives alongside your magazine staffers' public insistence that all "journalism" is tabloid journalism anyhow these days and the understandable identity crisis affecting all celebrity tabloids in the Post-Celebutardrunkdriver Era, Us is still too drunk off the Kool-Aid of its own tremendous financial success to realize that while Sarah Palin and Barack Obama are products of the same socio-cultural-economic moment that gave us Us, you cannot cover them like the rest of the people in Us. As you yourself put it, Paris Hilton never started any wars. Yeah, because even in this country, no one would elect her to the fucking PTA. But they might elect Sarah Palin, and Sarah Palin could actually start a war, and to keep all that from happening you've got to do your best to hide the ample supply of culture war ammunition that is your staff's collective Ivy League diplomas, Obama campaign donations and privileged obnoxious Fashion Week party attending lives. Y'all are not, after all, Matt Taibbi. (Although it would be awesome to get Taibbi to weigh in on the Cindy-Michelle style wars!) Earlier this year your boss Jann Wenner wrote in your sister publication Rolling Stone that Republican operatives, upon first witnessing the phenomenon that was Barack Obama, were bowled over by the "walking Hope Machine." Where did they find him? Certainly no Republicans ever expected the party to come up with a black constitutional law professor-cum-senator as conversant in Faulkner as in Friedman as in Jay-Z. Who could galvanize black voters without sullying himself in their pandering machines or resorting to Ebonics, who could praise Reagan even as he systematically went about dismantling the set of assumptions that made him so culturally attractive. Just as certainly, no Democrats expected the Republicans to find an attractive articulate gun-toting mother of five leading a state with an economy sufficiently supportive of America's moribund upper-working class to enable enough of said voters to maintain enough belief in the long-discredited notion that corporate wealth trickles down to elect a Republican governor on looks and charm and Godfearingness alone.** Where did they find her? Well, they had to go all the way to Alaska, but there she is, and while her life is no more reflective of average American realities than Angelina Jolie's or for that matter John McCain's, that is why they chose her; they're not idiots. John McCain was on to something with that whole "celebrity" thing; this is the world you helped create, Us Weekly. The only difference is, when you misjudge someone in this game — when you smear indiscriminately or judge too harshly or make Tim Gunn do your dirty work for you — it actually matters because unlike Amy Winehouse or Jamie Lynn Spears they actually have jobs. They are actually entrusted with the power to do shit. And when you dabble in the arena of covering such figures, you can't forget that it's actually not just voyeurism anymore. And when you fuck up there are a thousand livid hockey moms for every Chris Crocker. Many of them are not overweight at all! They might even buy lipstick advertised in Us Weekly. I just don't want Us giving them something to vote against.
*On the Metro section, where I covered the deer overpopulation problem and made $8 an hour for a few months in 1999. It was worth it for the orientation video alone, though they were not exactly receptive to my pitches on such topics as the District's woefully underfunded drug treatment programs. **Look, I know. The point of that is that sentence is that Alaska is the last outpost of the Economy Of Middle-Income People Who Actually Make Money Doing Real Shit. (As opposed to the manufacture of celebrities and microcelebrities, processing insurance paperwork, etc.)