LOS ANGELES—Why would a journalist not working for a gossip tabloid go out of their way to humiliate someone? And why are people like this put in a position where they can inflict wanton pain? No, I'm not talking about Rupert Murdoch's media empire, but Arianna Huffington's. Different political bent, same proclivity to gratuitous sadism.
In a piece posted on the Huffington Post today, entertainment editor Kia Makarechi juxtaposes the "enduring image" of adult performer and former Jesse James spouse Janine Lindemulder (pictured) as she appeared on Blink 182's 1999 Enema of the State cover with a far less attractive mug shot of her taken in 2011. That's about it. No other insight is provided other than the painfully rude comment tacked on at the end: "Turns out the '90s weren't as magical as we remembered."
My gut reaction was that Lindemulder must be one of those poor saps who becomes an accepted cultural punching bag, with no further explanation necessary. Everyone just gets it; have at her, pillory her at will. No retribution will accrue. But the more I look at this Huffington Post page, the angrier I get, for a few reasons.
First, there is absolutely nothing in this nasty pustule of a post that justifies its existence. It is simply an arbitrary attack against Lindemulder, who has done nothing to deserve the treatment except exist. If a respected news site is going to bash someone, should there not at least be an event that precipitates the mention? Or is it now the standard that if HuffPo says it's time to smack you down, down you go?
Second, Makarechi has no business creating this affront to journalism in the first place. As a recent UCLA grad, he has absolutely nothing of value to add to the story of her life. That's right, the kid was writing for the Daily Bruin two years ago, but he already feels qualified to pass judgment on a grown woman's life. And for this he gets a paycheck (though not one, I would suspect, that could actually support a grown man with a family).
But even worse, as a recent college grad Makarechi was probably born in the '90s, so it is unlikely he has much of a memory of the decade, which makes his commentary all the more galling in that it called upon a memory that (in all likelihood) he never experienced in order to profess a perspective on life that he does not possess!
I don't know what they call that at the Huffington Post, but out here in the real world it's called an old-fashioned lie. Hell, it isn't even Flynt-style satire! It's just mean for the sake of being mean.
Welcome to the "New" Journalism!