A bit of an attack dog himself, Vanity Fair cultural critic and novelist Wolcott (The Catsitters, 2001) hoists the gasbags of the mass media on their own petards.
“Waking up with a fart after a half decade in hibernation,” these standard bearers of the angry and the vexed are, in his view, the jingoists sowing the seeds of anxiety as if planting a field of wheat, the cheap melodramatists, the hacks and enablers, the sophists and Wee Willie Winkies of newsland. In other words, Limbaugh & Co., Matt Drudge and his Report (a “toxic dump site of Republican oppo research . . . where the mainstream media go to dip their bucket”), and Alan Keyes, of course, but not just such obvious targets. Wolcott also skewers the self-serving fabrications of Thomas “Give War a Chance” Friedman and his fellow New York Times star Judith Miller, leader of a one-woman crusade to wage war on Iraq. These members of the media elite have conveniently unplugged their bullshit detectors, the author notes, generously assuming that they even knew there was a socket to plug into. Wolcott casts his net so wide, it’s a wonder he doesn’t fall overboard. The critic likes the sound of his own voice, granted, but that voice is smart, skeptical, witty, and pugnacious in knowing that he has the facts—all neatly videotaped or preserved in print—on his side. While conducting a wicked knife job on Peggy Noonan (“God loves America, America loves God, America loves itself, Bush loves God and America, and Noonan loves God and America and Bush”) and the sad case of comic scallywag turned “hipster-daddy superpatriot” Dennis Miller, Wolcott encourages an active response to the pod people. Fight the FCC, he urges; “quarantine falsifiers and plagiarists”; simply pushing a remote control button and making them disappear won’t stop them.
Forceful nay-saying, buttressed by a few sensible ideas on how to neutralize the nonsense-purveyers.