The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Wednesday, December 11, 2002  

Media Beta Girl Enters the Echo Chamber

National Post (Toronto) and Telegraph (London) columnist, New Criterion theater critic, and quintessential Media Beta Girl Mark Steyn today was given space on the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal to expound upon two of the greatest concerns of the American people today, or at least of Americans, among others, in the media who curry favor with the likes of Matt Drudge and Mickey Kaus.

One only need glance at the title of Steyn’s essay -- “Lather, Rinse, Repeat” -- to know where this sorry exercise, this pathetic excuse for informed opinion, is headed.

Naturally, the topics of discussion are the price Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) pays for his haircuts, the latest (demonstrably false) “scoop” of would-be journalist Drudge, and the senator’s now notorious “furrowed brow,” one of the more recent obsessions of the diminutive right-wing pundit Kaus.

The word according to Steyn:

John Kerry’s hairdresser continues to make waves in Washington. The news that the Massachusetts senator . . . gets a $75 coiffure from Cristophe’s has riveted the Beltway and distracted from his message. . . . To be honest, it’s not entirely obvious where the 75 bucks goes. I mean, I haven’t seen the back of his head in awhile, so it’s possible he has an attractively angled nape. Otherwise, the most likely explanation is that it’s 15 bucks for the stuff on top but he pays $30 per eyebrow for some Ann Miller industrial-strength lacquer that freezes them into that permanently furrowed look.

Interesting, isn’t it, the way Steyn covers up Drudge’s false assertion that Sen. Kerry pays $150 for a haircut? This as if by some miracle of textual transposition it wasn’t a $150 haircut that “riveted the Beltway” -- and, I assure you, nowhere else -- but a still heinous and character-challenging $75 haircut.

Regardless, more than 10 days after the haircut scandal emerged at the factually challenged Drudge Report and roughly the same period of time after weblogger Kaus cast aspersions on Sen. Kerry for the lines on his forehead, Beta Girl Mark Steyn continues to feel compelled to weigh in with his worthless fulminations on the same subjects.

Gee whiz, Steyn, get with the program! According to the media’s Alpha Girls, those whose lead you are all too transparently following, that Kerry stuff about haircuts and wrinkles is, like, sooo last week!

Interesting, also, that Steyn -- whose visage suggests a man lacking familiarity with basic grooming implements, including combs and beard trimmers -- doesn’t share the details of his own visits to the salon with Journal readers. He does, however, drop a hint. “I always enjoy the bit at the end of the haircut where the stylist holds up the hand mirror so you can see the back and sides,” Steyn writes.

Note, “the stylist.”

Not “the barber”?

Given that Steyn reviews musicals on Hilton Kramer’s homophobic dime, one would think he might at least try to butch it up a bit.

And then, out-Steyning even Mark Steyn, Steyn concludes his piece with a lie, a proved-beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt lie, in fact, by writing, in a context that is not worthy of your time or consideration: “If we’d spent more on light rail infrastructure, it wouldn’t matter if a president shut down LAX traffic control so he could get a $200 haircut on the runway, because everybody else would be on the 4:07 to Buffalo via Phoenix, Grand Forks, Oklahoma City and Duluth.”

The reference here is to former President Bill Clinton, a man about whom the media and its right-wing friends clucked and chuckled for years because in 1993 he purportedly held up air traffic on the West Coast and beyond so that he could get his locks trimmed for two “c” notes.

The problem with this little yarn is that it’s simply not true.

The problem with Steyn is that he continues to believe this story is true -- or wishes desperately that it were -- or that he couldn’t care less.

And the problem with The Wall Street Journal is that Paul Gigot & Co. are so unconcerned with facts, so ideologically driven, that they would let this lie go to print nearly 10 years after it was proved false.

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