You knew that Sarah Palin was running (kind of) for President, but did you also know that she apparently is now publishing The Wall Street Journal?
How else do you explain:
–Headlines like this one, from Friday’s paper: ‘Behind Gold’s New Glister: Miner’s Big Bet on a Fund.“
–A front page that now features both news leads and ad leads (“The Wall Street Journal’s lower right front page . . . brought to you by AT&T”).
–An Op-Ed page that, instead of showcasing the day’s leading conservative ideas and voices, more often than not now serves as a house organ for Republican sophists and apparatchiks (not that the Left doesn’t have its counterparts — and then some).
Rupert Murdoch: Journalism Trailblazer
But back to “glister.”
If you look hard enough, you’ll actually find a dictionary that includes the noun version of “glister” as a permitted — albeit archaic — usage.
However, what it really seems to be is a mash-up of the words “glitter,” “glisten” and “luster” — much in the spirit of Sarah Palin’s “refudiate” (“refute + repudiate”).
Once upon a time, institutions like The Journal served as bulwarks against bastardizations of the English language and sloppy thinking, not necessarily in that order.
Now, apparently, The Journal has decided to become an abaser itself.
Ads, Ads, Ads
On to issue #2: ads.
Old-time advertisers — and advertising policies — were positively genteel compared to today’s ubiquitous (and creepy/stealthy) commercialism and line-blurring.
So, instead of discreet segues like, “Now, a word from our commercial sponsors,” you get a search window in the upper right corner of The Journal’s online home page with this (very) faint disclosure: ‘Search Sponsor: Goldman Sachs Asset Management.’
Apparently, it’s not enough that Goldman Sachs and their Wall Street ilk are front-running everyone else’s stock trades (through an arcane practice called “high frequency trading”); now, they’re also front-running our online searches and very thoughts — or at least, typed ones.
Which, ironically, might actually argue for subscribing to the anachronistic print version: at least when The Journal runs ads on its print home page, as it now does, it can’t monitor what its readers are looking at.
Another Name for “House Organ?” How about “Tool”
Last item: the decline of The Wall Street Journal’s Op-Ed page.
Once upon a time, The Journal’s Op-Ed page was a must-read for political thinkers of all stripes.
It showcased writings not just by Milton Friedman, Peter Drucker, and Norman Podhoretz, but by icons and leading lights from all over the political spectrum.
Now, it largely serves as a forum for . . . . political hacks and second-rate thinkers like Michael Boskin, my old economics Professor at Stanford, who went on to become Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors under the first President Bush.
Just like the joke about one of Milton Friedman’s students who fell asleep in class and awoke to a perturbed Friedman looming over him (“I missed the question, but the answer is ‘increase the money supply'”), a large and increasing percentage of Journal opinion pieces these days have a predictable premise (“government is screwing things up”) and foregone conclusion (“reduce its scope and power”).
How? By cutting taxes, of course!
The only real suspense is the tortured logic the author will adduce to connect the beginning and end points.
That’s “adduce” — a real word, not a made-up one.
Look it up: “adduce: \É™-ËˆdÃ¼s: ‘to offer as example, reason, or proof in discussion or analysis.’
P.S.: My one Michael Boskin-taught economics class at Stanford (in 1979!) had about 400 other students in it, so I hardly got to know him personally. But I do remember his snarky policy on re-grading exams.
According to Boskin, anyone who felt their exam had been graded too harshly was welcome to appeal.
However, if so, Boskin promised that he would review their entire exam, and was “highly likely” to find an equal number of deductions to exactly offset any additional points the student was entitled to.
There you have it: Michael Boskin — a record for intellectual honesty going back over three decades!