By: Mark Glennon*
Answer: You get reporters like Erin Carlson at NBC Chicago and articles like this from her today: This week in Mudslinging: Rauner’s NFL About-Face.
Let’s first be clear. Erin has authored plenty of fine work. I couldn’t have agreed more than with Ten flat chested stars that should never get boob jobs. And she knows how to reach a male audience. A friend and I wept together as we read Bachelor Ben Flajnik keeps getting dumped. Her really serious works start with the word “Report,” like Report: Kris Humphries ready to tell the truth about Kim’s butt. (OMG, she wears booty pads.)
But, true to its headline, her article today is mostly about the mudslinging and little about substance. It starts with, “Another week, another shameless display of political character assassination. Let’s jump in!” Nothing beats complaining about the silliness and trash talking in politics, then proceeding to report it.
Since I’ve seen a number of articles by Erin similar to today’s, I thought I’d take a look at her background to understand what NBC sees in her. So, yes, let’s jump in!
She’s a “reality TV historian,” according to her Twitter site. Her primary work had been as a gossip columnist, er, celebrity journalist.
She’s broken major news before, like, Reese Witherspoon spotted with black eye. And there were these contributions to the Fourth Estate: Is Miley Cyrus too young for sex? And this: “Jennifer Anniston’s love life: Experts weigh in.”
Without serious research, you can’t just type out works like, Jessica Simpson worries about turning into a hormonal Bridezilla. And only a reporter with genuine emotion can give us articles like, Sad Report: Nicole Richie got a boob job.
Nothing wrong with celebrity gossip, by the way (provided its experts stick to their knitting). It makes money, and Ms. Carlson apparently did start up her own site for celebrity gossip successfully. Good for her. The New York Times even named her one of its “Rising stars of gossip blogs.” Accolades are sure to come when you author the likes of Taylor Smith proudly flaunts cat shirt amid nude photo scandal and Taylor Armstrong very emotional over Real Housewives premier.
But I still asked myself why a major news operation like NBC wouldn’t use journalists who have spent their time thinking about bigger questions than whether Miley Cyrus should get bonked.
“Self, what a dumbass question,” I answered. “She and everybody at NBC are getting paid while you’re doing this on nights and weekends for nothing. You know full well that they know how to get the clicks.”
An earlier article of Erin’s stated, not as opinion but as fact, that Quinn’s anti-Rauner ad mocking the country club set featuring caricatures of Rauner supporters is very effective. What does she know about the effectiveness of political ads, I wondered? Plenty, unfortunately, if she’s indeed the reality TV historian she claims.
I suspect that’s the biggest thing Erin learned at her startup. Real reporting on real news doesn’t sell. Pensions? Budgets? Governmental consolidation? Oh, please. NBC Chicago evidently is working on that premise, too. Maybe it’s best that reporters like Erin stay away from such things anyway.
Another reason why NBC Chicago would have her writing is that she conforms politically with what they do — as far to the left as anything in town other than Huffington Post Chicago, and they make little pretense about being something else. Credit Erin for consistency, she earlier wrote Celebrities are the .01 percent: Time to make them pay? Class warfare is hot right now.
Well, gotta do some reading now. I think I’ll tackle Kim Kardashian complains about Kris Humphries’ obnoxious barking habit.