Thank You John Mayer

For what is probably my second favorite takedown of The Huffington Post, after last year’s TNR cover story by Isaac Chotiner.
(The Atlantic’s Ray Gustini calls Mayer’s tirade “less than cogent,” but surely his facility with extended metaphor makes up for that.)
But now let me say a word in HuffPo’s defense.
Unlike Mayer, I believe that a “stripper with reading glasses” is better than a stripper with no glasses at all.
It is a peculiar advantage of the “jugs and journalism” model (as epitomized by Vanity Fair) that you expose the “jugs” customers, who far outnumber the “journalism” readers, to the finer points of “business, politics, and culture.”
By simultaneously appealing to two relatively distinct audiences, low-brow and high-brow, these forms of media facilitate some beneficial cross-pollination. People who buy the latest issue of Vanity Fair because Lady Gaga is on the cover may accidentally learn something as they flip through.
Of course, this is a two-way street: some people who come for the journalism probably end up looking at the jugs.
Consider HuffPo’s front page this evening, where you can find a story about the American man imprisoned in North Korea side-by-side with Heidi Montag’s breast implant woes. (This is not to mention the scoop on a kitchen appliance that may or may not be hazardous to your health, nor Katy Perry’s latest episode of curvaceous exhibitionism on Letterman.)
As long as the number of readers distracted from Heidi Montag’s breasts by the North Korea story exceeds the number distracted from the North Korea story by Heidi Montag’s breasts, there is a net gain in exposure to important matters pertinent to the state of affairs in our republic.
And that would be no small achievement for a stripper with spectacles.

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