Matt Taibbi on the fatuous nature of modern biographies
Using the crappy Petraeus bio as a jumping-off point to go after all modern political puff pieces.
The book is so one-sided that it is almost supernaturally dull, and I was forgetting about it just minutes after I put it down.
Then it hit me – it was an interesting book, after all! Because if you read All In carefully, the book's tone will remind you of pretty much any other authorized bio of any major figure in business or politics (particularly in business), and it will most particularly remind you of almost any Time or Newsweek famous-statesperson profile.
Which means: it's impossible to tell the difference between the tone of a reporter who we now know was literally sucking the dick of her subject and the tone of just about any other modern American reporter who is given access to a powerful person for a biography or feature-length profile.
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These fawning profiles aren't rare, they're the norm. Take for instance this past summer's lay-off-the-police Newsweek profile of NYPD chief Ray Kelly, who is described by publisher Tina Brown as having a "pugilist's mug and a lion's heart," and is shown gamely trying to fend off idiotic accusations of civil rights abuses from naïve New Yorkers who just don't seem to remember 9/11 often enough ("These questions would not surface — and did not surface — in 2002," Kelly seethes). Then there's the New Yorker's creepy profile of budget director Peter Orszag from a few years ago, which began with a description of poor Jon Stewart cringing before Orszag's tallness and "bulletproof" resume, and went on to describe Orszag as "more than just the budget director. He is the unlikely guardian of Obamaism itself."
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