The Breakfast Table

Justifying the Dirty Habit of Reading the New York Post

Dear Dwight,

I love the Chang-rae Lee posting on Amazon! Let that be a cautionary tale to the committee … but how could I have missed the male sexuality class turning into an orgy in the New York Post? I must have been distracted by “Madman Bites off Lover’s Face,” which was also considered news by the Times, which gave it the more dignified and cautious headline, “Man Is Accused of Biting His Girlfriend.”

That is one thing about all of this exhibitionistic newspaper reading—it gives me some sort of justification for the dirty habit of reading the New York Post. (How many times have I gone to lunch in Midtown with that tell-tale black smudge on my face, or hands, or skirt?) Another great thing in the Post was the president’s slip of tongue in Japan. He talked about the “devaluation” of the yen, instead of “deflation.” This caused the market to plummet for a few hours. What is interesting about the story is not that the president misspoke, which he often does, but that so many people thought he knew what he was talking about. With a president so shaky on terms, wouldn’t they check his assertion? That they didn’t shows the more widespread psychological process at work: how much we want to believe in the president.

As for the Office of Strategic Information, I wish they had gone into more specifics. I want to know what the fake news stories might be. “Escaped Taliban Prisoner Tortures American 4-Year-Old Visiting His Father in Afghanistan”? I want to know what the ex-advertising executives talk about with the Army guys in the Pentagon cafeteria over chicken-salad sandwiches. …Perhaps that might make a good subject for someone’s luminous or riveting first novel. You must hate luminous and riveting, too.