Cheryl Pappas


Archive for April, 2011

Just Girlfriends: Jackie Kennedy, Laura Bush and the New York Times

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Scanning the New York Times recently, I see a piece entitled, Laura Bush: Back at the Ranch.

More recently, the Huffington Post re-ran the same article under the heading, Laura Bush’s TV Viewing.

Here’s my question. Is this a comedy piece or is it real?

Mrs. Bush is supposedly quipping answers to various questions. Nothing over the top, mind you. No controversy. Just a little hometown chat via sound bites about her pets, perceived commonality with Hillary, and relationship with George. Are you kidding me, New York Times?

Does it really fly to present this ex-White House occupant as if she’s a real person who exuded anything of substance during her husband’s reign? Is it not absurd to chat with the infamous ex-President’s wife about Barney the dog, babies, and Blackberries, without at least a warning or intelligent acknowledgment of the set-up?

As you well know, New York Times, people are not that stupid, especially your readership.

Laura Bush’s interest in libraries aside, I ask you: Is she or has she ever been relevant as even a benign person of interest or substance?

In other words, don’t just drop her on the web news page as if we love her. Bad, transparent public relations, NYT. Why?

As far as I know, and I can stand corrected on anything, Laura Bush is not beloved for her striking individuality and contributions to society. She is not an absence of a presence; we do not miss her, NYT!

She is, based on your enlightening powder room glimpse, a person who identifies herself as a talented editor.  She specifically states that she would make a good editor, perhaps in the hope–why not?–of attracting a publisher’s interest. If you listen closely, you may also hear the subtext of insinuating a connection with, ohhh, say, another First Lady of note.

File her, if you must, under having “A Delusion of Jacqueline Kennedy”. Who could blame her? As understandable as this is, why the NYT promotion?

To be fair, who wouldn’t want to share a piece of Jackie’s shadow, especially already having one legitimate commonality (the White House)? Of course, if we’re being fair to Jackie, or even simply in a spirit of journalistic accuracy, any comparison beyond the superficial “they both slept there” comes apart at the seams.

Have your research team look up, back to back, both “White House Interior Design: Kennedy Administration” and “White House Interior Design: George W. Bush Administration” for an inside scoop.

For those of you who missed the event of Jacqueline Kennedy’s design metamorphosis inside the White House where she masterfully illuminated, gutted, and renovated the vision of American design, check it out. Here is where the word “awesome” belongs.

This doesn’t even touch upon the matter of Jacqueline Kennedy’s impact in terms of introducing Europe and other parts of the world to an unsophisticated mid-century American audience.  Nor are we yet discussing Jackie’s having led American society in the direction of social grace, intelligence, and the arts.

I think I speak for anyone equipped with a mental floor plan when I say that Jackie may be rolling over in her grave by even an oblique comparison to Laura Bush. Even if that comparison is fabricated by Mrs. Bush, herself.

Back now to the news business and the business of news.

What does the presence of such a calculated piece of empty journalism reveal?

Is the New York Times rolling over?

Who are the editors who green lit this absurd piece?

To be sure, these are confusing days for the news business, as Arianna Huffington discusses in her most current blogs.

There is profound change afoot, and head spinning turmoil in how journalism is defined, what makes the news news and how it is delivered.

We therefore have nothing short of a fresh example, in this case with the befuddled New York Times, as they mistook their own newspaper for Laura Bush’s personal Twitter account.

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