For whatever reason, I’ve seen a lot of discussion of this piece by Nancy Snow on the intertubes today:
Today’s Google News has the wedding of reality TV star Khloe Kardashian and Los Angeles Lakers’ forward Lamar Odom getting more hits than the passing of New York Times columnist, William Safire. Now granted, Khloe and Lamar have more blogger followers, including Perez Hilton’s “wedding deets” to share with those not privy to be in Los Angeles.
This suggests, albeit unscientifically, that the death of an esteemed giant in American journalism is less newsworthy than a second-tier celebrity wedding. The media weren’t reporting the wedding of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, but two people who have been dating for a month and decided to get hitched before basketball season begins.
I find this pretty comical. I have nothing against William Safire. He was, by all accounts, a kind and charming man. His opinion columns were quite reasonable by the standards of right-wing punditry (though crazy by just about any other standard). His pieces on language were witty and entertaining (though they perpetuated outdated notions about the nature of language). Is that all it takes to be an “esteemed giant in American journalism” these days?
It’s hard for me to see how Safire was any less of an unjustly famous celebrity than Lamar Odom is. The primary differences between celebrity pundits and celebrity athletes are that the athletes can be benched or traded if they perform badly and that the children of celebrity athletes must display some kind of talent before being handed million-dollar contracts.