Crackhead-turned Times reporter success story David Carr is loved by media types for being a cool guy, and is basking in the generally positive public attitude towards his upcoming memoir. But everything is not well in Carr's world. Oh no. Just as Carr has found the strength to open up to the world about his past drug use, an even bigger scandal threatens to overwhelm him: his incurable fondness for potatoes.
New York Press editor David Blum has some of the worst instincts we've seen when it comes to sex columnists. While at the Village Voice, he fired popular sex columnist Rachel Kramer Bussel. Then he hired two married women to replace her and they were sucktastic and they all got fired. When he got to the Press, Blum sent the sex columnist packing, replaced her with Kelly Kreth, who he fired two months later and replaced with the experienced Claudia Lonow, whose resignation he accepted yesterday, a day after her first column and one hour after Jezebel pointed out she'd lifted material for her column. Interesting tidbit! Lonow was a consulting producer on the ABC drama 'Cashmere Mafia'-guess who else on the show has the exact same job description? Blum's wife, television writer Terri Minsky. Yeah, we need a nap too. But today Blum may have himself a halfway decent idea.
One day after her first column hit the streets, the New York Press has accepted the resignation of its sex columnist, after Jezebel pointed out similarities between Claudia Lonow's column and the work of Village Voice Media sex columnist Dan Savage. Lonow was "unaware that using questions from Savage's column was a breach of journalism ethics," reads the statement from editor David Blum."We apologize to our readers, and to Dan Savage, for this error in judgment." [NYPress]
Anal annal-er and New York Press sex columnist Kelly Kreth was fired Friday after just three months by editor David Blum, who hasn't been satisfied by any of the
four three sex columnists he's fired in the last year. Neither Rachel Kramer-Bussel nor Kreth's Press-predecessor Stephanie Sellars did it for the ex-Voice editor. The co-authors of his short-lived "Married Not Dead" sex column at the Voice (kicked to the curb a couple of days after Blum was replaced) didn't do it for anyone. "My feeling is, when you hire a columnist, you let them express themselves in their own way," Blum told us. "Ultimately you have to decide whether it works or not." Kreth was fired for "taste," which admittedly, came in short supply in her columns. In large supply? Gems like this: "I write about my tight starfish because I know, even while disgusted, people will be compelled to read. It doesn't matter if it is out of titillation or horror, want or need, we just want their eyes on the page and on us." Kelly, honey, we hate to break it to you, but the Press is no stranger to a tight asshole.
Claire Danes "feels extremely violated" by this week's 4,000-word New York Press cover story, in which the actress is "stalked" by reporter Rebecca Tucker, according to her agents. So distressed was she, it was conveyed, that ICM chairman Jeff Berg, whose company represents her, called up the Press this afternoon to tell editor David Blum to "redact" online a reference to the street where Danes lives. Blum declined.
Left: Last week's New York Press cover story about how things are sorta sucky for Jerry Seinfeld. Right: this week's New York Observer cover (drawn by Drew Friedman) for a story about how things are sorta really sucky for Governor Elliot Spitzer. Two things: We had no idea that the stereotypical Hispanic immigrant's fashion sense stopped evolving halfway through the 80s. (No wonder the Observer removed that figure from the paper's actual cover!) Also, we wonder how much time the Press art department spent with their rulers, making absolutely sure that, unlike previous covers by the same editor, the nose of a Jewish man is not drawn more than twice as long as it is wide.
Howie Kurtz, Washington Post media critic and author of "Reality Shows: Inside the Last Great Television News War," tells blog BigHeadDC that he'd be glad to meet with New York Press editor David Blum over similarities between Kurtz's book and a 2005 afterword to Blum's 2004 book. (Both the Kurtz and Blum books report, in similar ways, that Dan Rather threatened to take the Killian documents story that led to his dismissal from CBS to the Times if the network didn't promote, let alone run, the piece.) Kurtz has claimed the anecdote as a scoop. Speaking to the New York Observer last night, Kurtz described himself as "a fanatic about attributing information," but said he wouldn't mention Blum's book in any future editions of "Reality Show" because "since he got the information directly from [Josh] Howard, it didn't matter that the story had already been used elsewhere." Would Blum be open to a meeting? "It depends on the shape of the table," he told us.
We've been checking out Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz's new book, "Reality Show: Inside the Last Great Television News War," an advance excerpt of which was posted Sunday with great hubbub on Drudge. That excerpt recounts a discussion between Dan Rather and '60 Minutes' executive producer Josh Howard that took place on the eve of the airing of the controversial piece that would end Rather's career at the network. Kurtz's story was treated as big news—but the substance, and some of the language as well, was no different from New York Press editor-in-chief David Blum's 2004 book, "Tick... Tick... Tick..: The Long Life and Turbulent Times of 60 Minutes."
The New York Press is carrying a breathless 3,000-word piece today alleging that Deborah Solomon, the awesomely tactless New York Times Magazine Q&A queen, redistributed and flat-out invented questions she hadn't actually asked in final versions of interviews that she conducted with "This American Life" host Ira Glass and advice columnist Amy Dickinson. The subjects cried foul to Press reporter Matt Elzweig, who was until about a year and a half ago a security guard at the Met. The Times was not particularly responsive to his inquiries. Elzweig's piece reads as though he's just discovered White House plumbers in Times executive editor Bill Keller's basement. Instead, the Press has, for the most part, stumbled upon a fairly common editing practice.
From the mailbag: "Does anyone care that David Blum is going to be the new (managing?) editor at the New York Press?" Oh I'm sure someone does.
One of the final ties to the David Blum era at the Village Voice has finally been severed: We understand that the paper is dispensing with the services of Blum protégé Mara Altman, a young writer who has been regularly hated on in these parts. It's a bittersweet moment for us though. It's always sad to see someone lose their job, no matter the circumstance. On the other hand, everyone needs to get canned once or twice, especially those of us who were brought along too soon. It makes you more resilient. (Please remind us of this next week when our contract is not renewed). Thanks for all the memories, Mara. May you live to write better stories. We hope you land on your feet.
"The drunk driving arrest of Lindsay Lohan on Saturday reminds us yet again what lousy role models our culture offers its population of teenage girls. And that's just when that demographic group has proven itself more valuable than ever to the entertainment industry. Nearly every time Ms. Lohan appears on screen, it's a hit — and every time she crashes her Mercedes convertible, it's a cautionary tale of how Hollywood breeds movie stars too young, and unleashes them on the world before they're ready." Well, true enough, David! Except the part about her movies being hits. Oh, and the other part. We remember how much we loved polemicists who assumed that we were dumb and needed to be protected from "lousy role models" when we were teenagers! But it's not just Lindsay Lohan who's damaging our young persons, David claims.
Former Village Voice editor and J-school prof David Blum is confused about something. Why is Josh Ferris's Then We Came To The End not a New York Times bestseller, even though everyone—including Gawker!—thought it was "pretty good?" Blum puts on his reporter cap and discovers that sometimes even well-reviewed, well-marketed books don't sell hundreds and thousands of copies! He also has some pretty groundbreaking (as in wrong) theories as to why this might be.
Harvard alums Simon Rich, Bridie Clark and Keith Gessen sat down with the Crimson recently to talk about their lives as literary figures making a living in the harsh marketplace that is life after Harvard. As the interviewer puts it: "You all write in very different styles. Simon, you chose humor, Bridie, chick lit, and Keith, well, I guess you're more of an intellectual voice." I guess! But all is not fun and games in the life of an intellectual voice. Keith, who is the most doable of the editors of n+1, which is the most important literary journal of our time, warns Simon "Frank Rich's son" Rich about the horrors of the criticism and conversation. "Wait 'til Gawker gets its filthy mitts on you," he says. "It's just strange, you know we live in a time when people can say whatever they want about you on the Internet and take no responsibility for it." Okay, Mr. Lit Theory, let's unpack that!
David Blum once again demonstrates the rhetorical skill and journalistic integrity that marked his stewardship of the Village Voice with a review of Leslie Bennetts' new book, The Feminine Mistake, in the Sun. But wait! Is it a book review at all, really? It kind of reads more like a vitriolic ad hominem attack on Bennetts, followed by a misguided critique of the only two paragraphs of Bennett's book that Blum seems to have actually read. Odd, but not really so unexpected (to recap: Blum, Sun). It's towards the end, when Blum is criticizing Bennetts for wanting all men to become stay at home dads—something that Bennetts never actually does, or even implies in the book—that things really go off the rails.