It’s really tough to compete with death.
Still, we think NYT‘s Mark Leibovich wins out over the views of HuffPost‘s Nancy Doyle Palmer, who writes a pretty fierce piece against the value of his summer blockbuster This Town. Headline: “This Town, My Town, My Loss.” Her husband’s unfortunate passing and the publishing and popularity of Leibovich’s book coincided.
Really, it’s apples and oranges. But try telling that to Nancy (or not, yikes!). She begins on this auspicious note: “When Mark Leibovich’s This Town first hit this town in mid-July, I got my copy and was all set to interview Mark and do a fun piece about how awful so many people in Washington are.”
But then her husband of 30 years, John Palmer, died in early August.
“I mean, poor Mark Leibovich,” she snarls. “This shocking event in my own life has now put his nicely written but snarky book about the corruption of media and government in Washington in the same posting as the death of John Palmer. Because like many other great reporters, John spent a good part of his long career with NBC News here in Washington, and lived a life with values very different from those Leibovich glibly assigns to so many in ‘this town.'”
Absurdly she asks, “How do I balance writing something that was going to be fun, funny and a little mean with the loss of the kindest and best person I ever knew?” (Well, maybe you don’t balance that Nancy, because Leibovich’s book is a slice of life inside the journalism and political communities in Washington and not a testament or profile of you and your husband’s life. We’re sorry for your loss.)
Hypocrisy spoiler alert. Despite John Palmer being nowhere to be found in the book, ironically, Nancy has more than a bit of snark in her, too. Sure enough, later in her anti-This Town tome she admits to having an inner mean girl. She even admits to relating to the contents of the book.
“This book promised to skewer a few easy targets whom I know well and who drive me crazy, too,” she wrote. “Plus I have a fully developed mean girl side that really loves to laugh at people behaving badly.”
Except that now that she has watched her husband’s passing, suddenly she sees This Town as “an example of how hollow and clueless it is to reduce this city to players and games.” She continues berating the book, writing,
“The meanness. The cheap shots. The casual, extraneous put-downs. The ever-present instinct to assume the worst of people and the nasty asides that give the author away as complicit rather than accusatory.”
Just to throw in another piece of timely irrelevance, she slaps Leibovich down with this doozy: “Anyone who writes this in the 50th year of the March on Washington should be ashamed.”
We’re confused. Was that a cheap shot, an extraneous put-down or her inner mean girl coming out to throw a water balloon at Leibovich?
She ends her bitch slap on this sharply condescending note. “There is little to be gained by assuming the worst in people,” she wrote to Leibovich. “You can do better than this. You are better than this.”
[Laughing hard…] Oh, this town. The truth will set you free, Nancy.
We requested comment from Leibovich. He declined.