Ambitious, Talented, And Twenty: And Don't It Make Your Brunis Blue?
To be clear, I don't know Frank Bruni personally. Never met the guy. Don't know anyone he knows. Can barely even be bothered to Google him. Something about food, right?
All I know for sure is that in the opening paragraph of his column in today's Sunday Times, he wrote this…
"ONE young staffer on Anthony Weiner’s mayoral campaign saw a chance at bright lights and went after it, spilling secrets in return for a glamour shot on the front page of a major newspaper, determining that attention was worth whatever crassness it called for."
Later in the same column, Bruni claims attacks on Olivia by Weiner's comms director, Barbara Morgan "proved that women can engage in slut shaming as acidly as men can. (It’s the sisterhood of the traveling thong.)"
A single data point about a person I don't know, have never met, know nothing else about. And yet, using Bruni's logic, that's information enough for me to guess at his motivations, impugn his reputation, snipe at his gender and -- really -- call him whatever names I choose.
For example: Frank Bruni is a lazy, misogynistic sack of dicks -- and everything that's wrong with sadsack male opinion columnists in America.
As regular readers will know, Olivia Nuzzi -- the "young staffer" cited by Bruni -- is a writer for NSFWCORP. Early last week she wrote a series of articles for us, at my insistence, about her brief time spent on the Weiner campaign.
As I've explained before, Nuzzi didn't even mention her involvement with Weiner's campaign until I spotted a picture of the mayoral hopeful on her Twitter page. Even then she was reluctant to write about him until after the election, until I sarcastically pointed out that writing about news while it's still fucking news, is basically her entire job as a journalist.
Then the Daily News came calling, asking for a follow up to her hilarious "Weiner called me Monica" piece. We discussed the idea, and Olivia eventually told the Daily News that she'd write the follow-up on the understanding that they wouldn't splash her on the front page or anything dumb like that. The "glamour shot" which Bruni sneers at was Nuzzi's Twitter avatar. She provided it at the Daily News' request: they wanted to use a small photo next to her byline. Standard practice, they said.
Next thing any of us knew, Olivia was on the front page, described inside the paper as a "Weintern." The rest you know: Barbara Morgan lost her mind, calling Olivia a "slutbag" and a "cunt," projecting the story on to the desk of every two-bit opinion columnists from the Times to Timbuktu.
Bruni is just the latest sneering scuzzball to declare Olivia a fame whore based on the fact that, well, she scrubs up well and took a job, briefly, on a campaign marred by sex scandals. He's also the latest to ignore the fact that Olivia has turned down every TV request, every interview solicitation, every chance to milk the story to extend her fifteen minutes of fame. The latest to fail to do a Google search which would show that the day after the story broke Olivia got right back to work, filing a 1500 word story about New Jersey senate hopeful Rush Holt. So hot! To read Bruni's column, you'd think Olivia had gone straight from the Daily News to Letterman to filming a sex tape with James Deen.
But accuracy doesn't matter to slugs like Bruni: he doesn't need Google to understand what motivates girls like her. Sure the real Olivia hasn't given a single interview, but girls like her are surely desperate for a seat on the Good Morning America couch (she turned them down) or a Fox News bar stool (the interview request from Hannity's producer went unanswered). Girls like her are probably shopping a book deal. Am I right, fellas?
It was grotesque enough when Olivia was just being slut-shamed by the spokesperson for a sex addict's election campaign -- now she's experiencing something even more bizarre: ambition shaming by a man who is paid a small fortune to write about himself in America's newspaper of record. Bruni (I just finally Googled him) wrote an entire book -- "Born Round" -- about his issues with his personal appearance. He wrote an article in Men's Vogue (complete with glamour shots) to promote it, and then he sold the TV rights to Fremantle. But it's Olivia -- a 20-year-old news reporter who had one photo on the front page of one newspaper relating to a story I forced her to write, before going right back to work covering New Jersey politics for our tiny independent magazine -- who is somehow the crass one.
As I was writing this post, pointing out all the things that Olivia hasn't done -- including using national media to answer her critics -- a thought kept pounding in my head: so fucking what if she had gone on television? So what if she had only joined the Weiner campaign in order to write about it? Or if, as another shitrag of a columnist alleged, she had once asked for advice on how to intern at a major news network. Isn't that what we want our young journalists to do? When did ambition to write -- and write well -- about a dysfunctional political campaign become something to be sneered at?
In response to Bruni's column, NSFWCORP's sex and science editor, Leigh Cowart, wondered whether journalists would be so quick to make assumptions about Olivia if she was instead named Oliver. We all know the answer to that question: to pricks like Frank Bruni, ambition only turns toxic when it's combined with lip gloss and hairspray.
A more interesting question, perhaps, is whether Frank Bruni would be such a fucking tool to Olivia if she were 40-years-old instead of 20. I mean, can there be anything scarier to lazy hacks like Bruni than a smart, ambitious millennial, clambering up the career ladder behind them? Girls like her must be shamed into silence -- and other professions -- before it's too late.
Well tough shit, Bruni. Olivia Nuzzi is coming for your job. Not through "glamour shots" or "the sisterhood of the traveling thong" but through hard work, talent and -- quelle horreur! -- ambition. All of us who value facts and hard work over baseless smears and lazy stereotypes are cheering her on.