February 5, 2014

Andrew Rosenthal, the NYT editorial page editor, "runs the show and is lazy as all get-out."

According to a NYT writer, quoted in a NY Observer piece titled "The Tyranny and Lethargy of the Times Editorial Page/Reporters in 'semi-open revolt' against Andrew Rosenthal." The Observer pauses to say "one can almost hear the Times-ness in his controlled anger (who but a Timesman uses the phrase 'as all get-out' these days?)" and that riff on language derails me from the substance of the article.

I mean, I nearly got sidetracked earlier this morning, when I was writing about Justice Scalia's remarks — about the way judges inactivate themselves in times of war — into riffing on his use of "whatnot." Talking about WWII, he'd said, "the panic about the war and the invasion of the Pacific and whatnot." Whatnot! Who talks like that?

Detouring from substance, I spent some time in the Oxford English Dictionary. "Whatnot" goes back to 1540, to Palsgrave's translation of Gnapheus's "Comedye of Acolastus" — "Excesse of fleshely pleasures..hath taken awaye all thynges..my goodes or substance, my name .i. my good name and fame, my frendes, my glory .i. my renoume or estimation, what not? .i. what thyng is it that she hath not taken from me?"

This language riffing is an excesse of fleshely pleasure for me... and whatnot. The question is interesting: "who but a Timesman uses the phrase 'as all get-out' these days?" What do non-Timesmen say these days? And here's off-ramp I'm not going to take: Who says "these days"? Oh, no... I accidentally took the off ramp! And now Jackson Browne is playing on YouTube.  

These days I seem to think a lot/About the things that I forgot to dooooo/And all the times I had the chance tooooooo....

Focus, Althouse. The question on the floor is: What do non-Timesmen say these days? The phrase to be completed is Andrew Rosenthal is lazy as.... The answer — what normal newspaper writers supposedly say — is — I assume — hell or fuck. Or — my personal go-to expression — fucking hell. Is "all get-out" hilariously old fashioned and puritanical? Years ago we used to say "anything" — as in: Lazy as anything.

So what does the old OED have to say about "as all get-out"? The "get-out" can be traced as far back as 1838. J. C. Neal Charcoal Sketches: "We look as elegant and as beautiful as get out." The first "as all get out" comes from Mark Twain's "Adventures Huckleberry Finn" (1884): "We got to dig in like all git-out." Or if you need the more polished version, without the "like" and the "git," there's Harry Leon Wilson's 1916 "Somewhere in Red Gap": "When I got into the parlour she had them on, pleased as all get-out."

So, now, out of the language sidetrack, onto the substance. What's up with Andy Rosenthal and the Timesmen?
"Andy’s got 14 or 15 people plus a whole bevy of assistants working on these three unsigned editorials every day. They’re completely reflexively liberal, utterly predictable, usually poorly written and totally ineffectual. I mean, just try and remember the last time that anybody was talking about one of those editorials. You know, I can think of one time recently, which is with the [Edward] Snowden stuff, but mostly nobody pays attention, and millions of dollars is being spent on that stuff."
Much more at the link. Great substance, actually. Check it out. Well, I'll keep on movin' ... movin' on/Things are bound to be improvin' these days....

33 comments:

tim in vermont said...

Any editorial page that can countenance Gail Collins' "efforts" is probably beyond saving.

Patrick O said...

"Whatnot! Who talks like that?"


I and others hereabouts have been known to use that phrase.

Ipso Fatso said...

NYT's journalists vs editorial page writers? It's just another version of Mensheviks vs Bolsheviks.

Henry said...

From the article: And no one is saying, ‘Hey, did you see the latest Friedman column?’ in the way they’ll talk about ‘Hey, Gail [Collins] was really funny today.’”

In the losers' bracket, Friedman loses.

Henry said...

And this is priceless:

One former business reporter remarked that the entire business section viewed the editorial page as “irrelevant” and went on to say, “Their business editorials were relatively rare and really bad. Floyd Norris went up there to make the business editorials better and eventually just left because he got tired of trying to explain economics to them.”

And this:

The fact of the matter is the Wall Street Journal editorial page just kicks our editorial page’s ass. I mean there’s just no contest, from top to bottom, and it’s disappointing.

Sean Gleeson said...

We still say 'whatnot' in Oklahoma. And they must say it in Texas, because I remember an episode of King of the Hill, in which Peggy's garment is soaked with water, and Hank observes, "I can clearly see your whatnots."

But Scalia is a New Yorker, so I don't know where he picked it up. Maybe from television.

James Pawlak said...

The Obama Administration has been arming, at a military-level, many Federal civilian agencies and Democrat controlled local police as are loyal to their political bosses and not, like, most in the Armed Forces, loyal to the Constitution. [It has been alleged that he is purging those high ranking military officers as are not willing to support ALL of his policies and orders.]

EMD said...

I enjoy language in all its inartistry - most notably the "whatnots' the "whosits" and the "as all get outs"

cubanbob said...

NYT's journalists vs editorial page writers? It's just another version of Mensheviks vs Bolsheviks."

Other than mentioning Trotsyites and Stalinists there is really nothing else to say.

YoungHegelian said...

People in the know do not use the phrase "...and whatnot".

People in the know use the phrase "...and yadda yadda yadda".

Ann Althouse said...

Reading, I tend to see the words literally, so to me "what not" means to suggest that just about everything is included — what's not in this set I'm listing. It seems so much more expansive than "etc." or "and so forth," which only seem to say, this is a list, and the list continues, with other things like this. But "whatnot" seems to say that there are, of course, some things not on the list, but basically, this list goes on and on in "everything but the kitchen sink" fashion.

Ann Althouse said...

That "King of the Hill" line seems off and I don't believe people talk like that.

Seems like a winking way to let the character sort of say "nuts."

I do think that people (somewhere) say "your you know whats" to refer to genitalia.

Ann Althouse said...

That "King of the Hill" line seems off and I don't believe people talk like that.

Seems like a winking way to let the character sort of say "nuts."

I do think that people (somewhere) say "your you know whats" to refer to genitalia.

traditionalguy said...

Maybe Rosenthal is attempting to do his job with one half of his brain tied behind him, in emulation of El Rushbo.

Andy Freeman said...

Who says "timesmen"? And, shouldn't it be timespeople or timespersons?

CWJ said...

Andy,

Perhaps timesfolks - at lleast for the next three years.

mrs whatsit said...

I say "whatnot." Also, "whatsit."

Mattman26 said...

Some years ago, as an Asst. U.S. Attorney, I was arguing a forfeiture appeal in front of the Seventh Circuit, and they were pushing me to identify what it was I was arguing (unsuccessfully, it was already quite clear) constituted probable cause for the seizure of the money. Answering, I ticked off a list of things and added "and whatnot." (Which was probably a "tell" that I didn't have enough.) In the original "slip" opinion (printed by the court), the court quoted me on this (and hyphenated it as "what-not"), and then dropped a footnote to quote the other definition of whatnot (something about a shelf full of bric-a-brac), which I found rather embarrassing. I looked up the published ruling today, and see that while the quote stayed in, the footnote got removed. Whew!

Sean Gleeson said...

That "King of the Hill" line seems off and I don't believe people talk like that. Seems like a winking way to let the character sort of say "nuts."

Well, "whatnots" was definitely an attempt at a polite euphemism for some delicate organs, but the "pun on nuts" hypothesis just won't fit. I should have mentioned, Peggy is a female character. Hank was, I believe, referring to her nipples. I can't think of any slang word for nipples (or breasts generally) for which "whatnots" could have been a pun. So my take was, it's Hank's generic word for things that he does not wish to mention.

Ann Althouse said...

mrs whatsit said…"I say "whatnot." Also, "whatsit.""

But these words are not synonyms.

BTW, no one says "whaddyacallit" anymore. Or the fancier "whatchayamacallit."

Tarrou said...

Does anyone else suspect that the motivation here is not to castigate the Times for being reflexively liberal shills, but for being obvious, uncreative and BAD at it?

I call it the "Jon Stewart".

Ann Althouse said...

"Hank was, I believe, referring to her nipples."

Suddenly, I'm remembering the term "whatnot shelf"… perhaps because "shelf" can be a reference to a certain kind of well-supported bosom.

A whatnot shelf was a place to put whatnots, i.e., knick-knacks. In my childhood room, I had a 3-tiered shelf that hung on the wall that we called a knick-knack shelf. I had little ceramics angels and that sort of thing arranged on it. But I know that the same thing was also called a whatnot shelf.

Haven't thought about that in a long time!

Ann Althouse said...

I can't believe some cartoon character's nipples are taking me back to a childhood memory… of bad furniture.

Sean Gleeson said...

Some of those are nice racks.

Fen said...

"purging those high ranking military officers not willing to support ALL of his policies"

That would be stupid though. These guys don't just take up golf when they retire. They're networked into the military community. I can't think of a better way to solidify leadership of a "praetorian guard" to oust him.

cubanbob said...

Tarrou said...
Does anyone else suspect that the motivation here is not to castigate the Times for being reflexively liberal shills, but for being obvious, uncreative and BAD at it?

I call it the "Jon Stewart".

2/5/14, 10:52 AM"

Great idea! Hire Stewart as Editor-In-Chief and make the NYT an enjoyable funypaper.

Mike said...

The devil you say! He used "whatnot" and caused a hullaballoo? Fancy that!

tim maguire said...

"the panic about the war and the invasion of the Pacific and whatnot."

War and whatnot?!?

Reminds me of the elder Bush's description of what he thought about as he bobbed in the ocean after being shot down by the Japanese. Something like, "I thought about my family and friends and how I may never see them again, and about the separation of church and state."

tim maguire said...

In these parts, people say "whatchamacallit" as often as they ever did. At least I don't notice it less. Great candy bar too, though I haven't seen that in a long time, now that you mention it.

Kirk Parker said...

"NYT's journalists vs editorial page writers? It's just another version of Mensheviks vs Bolsheviks. "

It's a pity they can't both lose.

Kirk Parker said...

Fen,

"That would be stupid though. "

Monumentally so. This is not, however, and argument against it actually being done, with this crowd.

Also, if that is what's going on, I hope there's more than a handful of high-rankers who have gone into "sleeper" mode so they can stay in place till needed. Dear ghu what a terrible role to have to fulfill, though.

Rockport Conservative said...

We do say whatnot in my family, and we are Okies transplanted to Texas during WWII. It is usually a phrase, "all those whatnots," and we do know, and some of us have, whatnot shelves but I haven't heard of it called that in a long time. Knickknacks has definitely taken over the term for what it defines.

As to the King of the Hill remark, having lived in Texas for a great many years it rang very true to me. None of those years were lived in the big cities of Texas. I lived in Austin in 1962-3-4 while my husband worked on his PhD but it wasn't the weird Austin it is now.

Kirk Parker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.