Early Saturday morning I dragged myself to the New Yorker Festival in Midtown, to see media mensch Ken Auletta moderate a panel discussion with Times editor Bill Keller, Atlantic blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates, Slate press critic Jack Shafer, and breathless WSJ columnist Peggy Noonan, the token conservative. I'll leave out the boring recap parts and distill the experience down to its key point: Peggy Noonan should go back to writing political speeches, because—even taking into account the fact that she's a Republican hack—her dishonesty is embarrassing to watch. Ugh. Noonan, remember, was caught on a live mic talking about how the selection of Sarah Palin as VP was "bullshit." A fact that was referenced repeatedly by Ken Auletta! So what did Noonan spend the bulk of her time on the panel (subject: "Covering the Candidates") doing? Defending Sarah Palin. It was far too early to take notes, but I'll sum up Peggy's arguments: "Sarah Palin, fresh, new, American, real, six-pack, women, sexism?, the American people." The experience was strange because every single person sitting in the room—the panelists, the moderator, the audience, the security guards—was well aware how dumb Sarah Palin is. But there was Peggy, gamely searching for some all-American Reaganesque prose to elevate Palin into something legitimate. The panel was about the media, so the bold political hackery was jarring and out of place, like when those crazy Christians wave signs at the funerals of dead soldiers saying God killed them because of fags. There's a time and a place for your brand of lying, Peggy. It's on the weekend talk shows, after you sign on as a speechwriter for the sure-to-be successful Palin administration. There are lots of political hacks writing columns; but Noonan always wants to pop up as some sort of spokeswoman for Middle America, in the most patronizing way possible to actual Middle Americans. You failed at the New Yorker Festival, Peggy Noonan. The contrast between Noonan and the other panelists was what made the entire ordeal grimace-worthy. Bill Keller has more political pressure on him than almost anyone in the entire media. But when Ken Auletta asked him how it affected him when the McCain campaign charged the Times with being in the tank for Obama, Keller said (approximately): "It makes me want to find the toughest, hardest story about McCain we have and put it on the front page the next day." That's called honesty, Peggy Noonan. Retire with your trademark false grace. [Pic via Startraks]
♦ Designer/actress/Parisian it-girl Lou Doillon talks to WWD about her more intellectual projects, like her stage debut tonight in Samuel Beckett's The Image at the Alliance Française. [WWD]
♦ Can this week get any more catastrophic? Top Shop's opening is now pushed back till March. [WWD]
♦ Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen's label The Row is going to start doing men's clothes. [WWD]
♦ We take it all back: Naomi Campbell did her bit for charity last night with her London Fashion For Relief show, which raised money for The White Ribbon Alliance fund to promote safe childbirth. [Marie Claire UK]
Junot Diaz, whose long-awaited first novel The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao is the best book we've read in a long-ass time, was probably the most entertaining speaker at any of the butt-numbing events of the New Yorker Festival. New Yorker editor and faux musical lyricist Ben Greenman, who introduced Junot, admitted as much: "Of all the fiction events, you've picked the best one." The audience congratulated themselves in a low, respectful murmur.
Sweating into his fluffball of jewfro, a heavyset, facially-hairy young man with glasses stepped to the microphone during the Q&A portion of the New Yorker festival event featuring film critic David Denby in conversation with writer-director Judd Apatow and his protege Seth Rogen. Seth called on him to begin speaking: "Yes, me?" This joke got the second-biggest laugh of the night. But it had some stiff competition.
New Yorker festival! October 5! Tickets go on sale September 15! Here's the whole schedule. Now is your moment: David Denby, Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow, all within sniper range. (Just kidding, Judd, I heart you!) Diplo is DJing Sasha Frere-Jones' dance party, so, yes please on that. And here's the real crazy meat in the crazy pie: "THE NEW YORKER DEBATE. Resolved: The Ivy League Should Be Abolished With Malcolm Gladwell and Adam Gopnik. Chaired by Simon Schama." Are you people for real? Great: one-and-a-half Canadians and a Brit Columbia prof are going to tell us all about it. [Emdashes]