Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Who Is The Star Tribune's Suki Dardarian? Part 1

"The bias of the main stream media is toward sensationalism, 
conflict and laziness."
Jon Stewart to Chris Wallace

Suki Dardarian, 57, is Vice President and Senior Managing Editor of the Star Tribune. She spent the previous fourteen years at the Seattle Times. Dardarian had been one of two managing editors but lost out to Kathy Best, the other co-manager, who received the promotion to editor, replacing David Boardman, who resigned after a mind numbing 30 years to become Dean of Temple University's School of Media and Communications in Philadelphia. Media insularity can hardly be better demonstrated than by Boardman's career change. 

The liberal ethos dictates that no one can ever lose, no one can be better than another and, so, Dardarian was given the consolation prize title of "Director of Audience Development and Innovation." That title, as Christopher Hitchens would be wont to say, is enough to make a cat laugh. No one really knew what that meant but it took Dardarian out of the newsroom, hardly an encouraging career development.

This week we learned that the FBI sent a message to a teenager who had been sending bomb threats, some seven years ago, that masqueraded as an email from the Seattle Times. Kathy Best, its now editor, said in an email statement that she hoped it was a one time mistake and "not a symptom of a deeper lack of respect for the role of a free press in society."

Is she out of her mind? Remember, this is the person Dardarian lost out to! Best has to be on another planet not to know that the Obama administration has been the worst persecutor of the free press in American history. Media are loathe to report on their own attacks by thugs in Eric Holder's Department of Justice. Just yesterday Susan Page of USA Today said out loud what everyone already knew: the Obama administration is the most dangerous to the media in our nation's history.

Yesterday as well Glenn Greenwald tweeted "That Obama is horrible on press freedoms is a virtual consensus" and proceeded to link to the New York Times, The Guardian and the Washington Post. Had this been a republican president, the coverage wouldn't be intermittent and fitful but sustained and just short of hysterical. The hypocrisy of American media knows no bounds.

While Dardarian was at the Seattle Times the paper won two Pulitzer prizes for breaking news coverage. Breaking news coverage awards are basically the white Ford Broncos of the Pulitzers: something explodes under your journalistic nose, you cover it ("flood the zone" in self-important news speak) and your peers will praise you for it. 

Pulitzers are liberal awards handed out to (mostly) other liberals in the media and in some of the arts. A stray conservative is awarded one often enough that the enterprise can be defended as not being completely liberal, so what's the complaint? Dardarian twice served on a Pulitzer jury. That's a credential I instinctively tend not to respect. 

I remember well when Dorothy Rabinowitz, opinion columnist for the Wall Street Journal, was passed over once too many times even for those who ran the awards. The Board intervened and reversed the Pulitzer jury, giving the award to Rabinowitz that had been denied her previously for years because journalists on the jury didn't care for her political views, the extraordinary quality of her thought and writing notwithstanding. 

The Pulitzer family is worth an estimated $1.5 billion. One heir suffered a nasty divorce in the 1980's involving lurid claims of drug use, orgies, lesbian assignations and generally white trash behavior, including sleeping with an heiress to the Kleenex fortune. Google "Pulitzer family scandal" and have yourself some fun. 

* * * * 

Before her hermetically sealed life was transplanted from a Seattle terrarium to a Minneapolis one, Dardarian sat for an interview that can be  viewed by clicking here. Her answers are both confirming and revealing at the same time.

For example, we learn that she went into journalism to "make the world a better place." That's an actual quote, a howler to be sure, something out of a media parody account. Manifestly that's not the function of journalism but it's the first thing out of her mouth. Yet not one person with whom Suki Dardarian worked previously or currently would disagree with that statement of hers. Not one.

Tellingly, the most used word in her interview is "stories." News per se might still exist like some Platonic ideal or some occasion of calamity. Beyond that, "story speak" speaks and it doesn't shut up. Journalists now have expansive conversations with themselves and their navels about how best to tell stories. How those stories get picked goes unspoken because in this audience they know the answer very well; indeed, they are it.

Storytelling represents the irreversible infantilization of journalism, the triumph of sociology majors as reporters and editors. It is a synonym for propaganda of the writer's preferred views on any given subject.

She went on to say, with a straight face, that media are a government watchdog, they hold power accountable and community building, whatever that may be, is now part of its mission. Finally, when asked what skills are needed most in her profession, Dardarian embodied the deeply rooted nature of the lies media tell themselves. What was the one skill needed more than all the others? The answer, said she, was ethics.

That takes some brass. And an impenetrable force field of denial. Political reporting in this country, to say nothing of Minnesota, resembles a journalistic "Truman Show." "Cue the sun."

Ethics are the last thing media have a claim to.

* * * * 
Once the packing material was removed, Suki was free to move about the cabin. A liberal Seattle newspaper editor makes a seamless transition to the Twin Cities' culture of liberal newsrooms. Life in this bubble is nothing but a comfort zone filled with similar thinking people who never challenge or question their own conventional wisdom despite the hubris that they are fierce truth tellers. They are nothing of the sort.   

There is nothing easier to be in America than a liberal. 

Dardarian quickly adapted to her new, but utterly familiar, cultural environment. She observed the 50th anniversary of the BWCA, which is something liberals do, give birthdays to legislation. They appear not to notice the whiff of the totalitarian in that. She attended the Paul McCartney concert in St. Paul recently, presumably without a second thought. 

Her Facebook account embodies a relentlessly middle class aesthetic. The usual bromides and cultural references for someone in her milieu are posted. Though I could only find a BA in Political Science & Communications from the University of Washington for her, I'm certain she kept up to intellectual speed by reading books recommended by National Public Radio or another narrow-cast liberal media outlet through which she knew everything else her colleagues did but no more, despite rote professions of fealty to diversity. She seems like a nice lady.

Earlier this month she attended a reading of her "pal" Lisa Westberg Peters' embarrassingly self-absorbed book "Fractured Land: The Price of Inheriting Oil." It was a full house at the repulsive Garrison Keillor's lovely bookstore, Common Ground, for the event. The smug must have been near black out levels had some random conservative wandered in, not knowing the Coven had been summoned.

A bored Minnesota liberal inherits some North Dakota land from which oil is extracted. Writes faux angst filled book about it. The tribe turns out to support the effort. I think Evan S. Connell's masterpiece "Mrs Bridge" needs to be updated for 2014 and situated in this world. The magnification of the immeasurably trivial, but personal (i.e., it happened to ME), is a hallmark of modern liberal life. It is breathtaking in its inconsequence, nauseating in its narcissism. Such people are at a loss to understand what Evelyn Waugh meant when reviewing a book of J.F. Powers': "life has a weak plot line."

The Peters' book reviewer in the Star Tribune was as self-absorbed and ridiculous as her book sounded. He praised the author for "openly acknowledging the moral ambiguities so many of us confront each time we start our car." One needn't be Freud to see such nonsense as the child demanding to remain the center of attention throughout life. Starting a car as moral paralysis: these people border on the pathetic. I myself am frequently paralyzed mid-morning-mouth with a hoisted spoonful of Rice Chex: "What if some GMO's got into this?"

Every moment of our lives is politicized by these types. That's the hallmark of North Korea and any totalitarian society; there's no room for the individual, for the truly private. Just yesterday the laughable Keith Ellison wrote in an op-ed that politics "is in everything we do." Of course it isn't but intellectual midgets like Ellison want it to be, the more so for the far left to control people.

* * * * 

Dardarian's hiring was announced in March and she started in April of this year. In August, her spouse Peter Callaghan was hired by MinnPost. Imagine not even having to age out, steeped in bitterness at the Star Tribune and at life in general, before writing for them! Callaghan's background and life experiences appear to be as homogenous as his wife's. He seems like a nice guy.

It would be churlish not to wish a couple to both find work in a city one of them must move to for employment. I note Callaghan's media perch simply to point out, again, how seamless the liberal media ecosphere is and can be. I've called this environment mediaocrity.™

In a similar fashion, I examine Suki Dardarian not because she is particularly accomplished or exceptional, she is neither, but because she's ubiquitous.

Friday: Suki in situ, or, Who Is The Star Tribune's Suki Dardarian, Part Two.

© 2014 John Hugh Gilmore & Minnesota Media Monitor™ All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Suki Dardarian, Facebook. 

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