No. 488: "Histortainment"
During yesterday's debate between New York's two candidates for the U.S. Senate, Hillary Clinton made a passing reference to E.B. White. In a press conference later, Gov. George Pataki made it aggressively clear that he'd never heard of White:
Rick Lazio looks, sounds and talks like a New Yorker. Mrs. Clinton quoted some guy, Wyatt or somebody—I don't think he was from Brooklyn—with some definition of a New Yorker that she must have read somewhere. I don't know who that guy was. I don't know what he wrote. I don't know where he was from. But it sure doesn't sound to me like that guy was a New Yorker or understood New York the way we do.
As ringing a defense of stupidity as you're likely to hear. Incidentally, as Clyde Haberman points out in his Times column today, White was born in Mount Vernon; where his parents moved from Brooklyn. (It must be acknowledged that Rick Lazio did know that E.B. White wrote Charlotte's Web.)
W. desperately, and inarticulately, repositions.
Randy Cohen used to write Slate's "News Quiz." His most recent book—oh, like you don't know.