Fallen Icons

Brinkley and Lyall

Fallen Icons

Brinkley and Lyall

Fallen Icons
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Oct. 21 1998 11:41 AM

Brinkley and Lyall

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On the basis of today's papers, we can add to the list of fallen icons gleefully pounced upon by the Press an aging cricket star previously unknown to me, Geoff Boycott, who is on trial in Paris for allegedly beating up one of his many former mistresses. The Times, whose front page ignores Pinochet, has a large color picture of Boycott standing outside the courtroom (dressed as if for the races) surrounded by his "defense team."

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In a strange reverse image of our own national soap opera, Boycott's defense team consists not just of a few lawyers, but also of a parade of his former mistresses prepared to testify that in his relations with them he was a "perfect gentleman." Boycott himself is said to have complained loudly in the Parisian courtroom that "They're all speaking French!"

Am I wrong that the British press seems to take even more delight than its American counterparts in tearing down the heroes that it has itself created? And if Charles and Camilla are being set up as the stars of the next round of tabloid mania, can their (second) deconstruction be far behind?

Alan Brinkley is history professor at Columbia University and author of The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War. He is teaching at the University of Oxford, England, for a year. Sarah Lyall is a journalist who writes for the New York Times from London.