I Hate Maureen Dowd
[This is the piece I wrote for the 2008 Hysterical Festival. Enjoy!]
This piece I wrote is about Maureen Dowd. In case you’re a fortunate person, who is living a life unmarred by Maureen Dowd, let me explain who she is. Maureen is a New York Times columnist. She is 56-years-young, but she still uses her glamour shot from 20 years ago as her photo in the New York Times. Sexy.
Tearing down Maureen at a festival celebrating women may seem like a conflict of interest, but it’s not. I am defending womankind from Maureen Dowd.
Here’s why: she is a terrible writer, a fact hidden from some people because she is also a well-educated woman, who throws around polysyllabic words and crams Classical references into every metaphor even if they don’t really belong there. If the sentence could be: Becky finished her lunch and went to the store, Maureen would write: Rebecca vanquished her brunch and sauntered to the boutique.
She’s pretentious AND she’s not funny despite the fact that she’s sort of the unofficial humorist for the Times, a job I imagine no one assigned her, but which Maureen has nonetheless taken up as her crusade.
I think the New York Times should spend its Maureen Dowd pay allowance on either a real journalist or a real comic, but they need to get off the fence and stop wasting everyone’s time with Maureen Dowd’s creepy half-jokes. Whenever I read one of her awful puns, it feels like some old man is trying to put his cold hand up my skirt. I feel cheated by her terrible sense of humor and her Wikipedia-researched columns.
Here’s the good news: I’m not alone in my hatred for her. A simple Google search of “Maureen Dowd is awful” brings up a ton of great reading material.
For example, Maureen is so slit-your-wrists terrible that students at Oxford had to invent a new term just to deal with reading her work. They call it “The Immutable Law of Dowd” and it includes 3 laws that describe all of Maureen’s articles. The first law is that her writing contains all personality and no substance.
Which brings me to another reason why I hate Maureen Dowd: She won a Pulitzer Prize…but not for her coverage of some tragic war or issues of poverty or famine. Maureen Dowd won the Pulitzer Prize for her coverage… of the Monica Lewinski scandal.
Reading her Lewinski coverage is like reading a child’s explanation of what happened. Here’s her series of Pulitzer Prize-winning articles in a nutshell: Horny dude meets desperate, chubby girl, evil best friend betrays chubby girl, and sex-addict prosecutor ruins everyone’s day. Granted, the Clinton-Lewinsky so-called “scandal” was ridiculous to begin with, but Maureen Dowd’s awful writing should not have been so thoroughly praised. It only encouraged her.
Maureen is also the Queen of bad puns. Just a quick example because I really want you to take this journey with me. When describing Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Maureen borrowed from the musical My Fair Lady and massaged the lyrics with hilaaaarious results: “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the Arctic plain.” Pulitzer Prize winner: Maureen Dowd.
And this stuff goes on for an entire page, like twice a week. In fairness to Maureen, I don’t like puns in general. Like when someone tells Sarah Palin to stay the PUCK out of their city, what they really mean to say is stay the FUCK out of my city. Like an adult.
The second Immutable Law of Dowd is that it’s easier to whine than take a stand. The reason Maureen Dowd portrays political figures as shallow caricatures is because it’s easy to paint a whimsical alternate universe than it is aggressively attack reality. In short: Maureen Dowd is an unfunny coward. This second law ties into the third and last Immutable Law of Dowd: It’s easier to be cute than coherent.
I don’t want to fill the room with negativity, and anyway, that isn’t what this is about. What I really mean to say is the following, and really, the whole point of everything that came before it: I hate Maureen Dowd as much as I love and miss Molly Ivins.
In fact, this piece is less a hate-filled diatribe against Maureen Dowd and more a tribute to the late, great Molly Ivins: the scrappiest, most honest journalist and columnist I have ever had the privilege of reading.
I can think of no two women that better illustrate the battle of good versus evil than Molly and Maureen. If we lived in a super hero movie, Maureen Dowd and Molly Ivins would fight with knives on a mountaintop. And in the final moment of the final scene, Molly would tear off Maureen’s head, hold it up triumphantly and shout to the villagers below, “YOU ARE FREE!”
Unlike Maureen’s weekly abortions, Molly wrote brilliant columns and never sullied her readers’ minds with anything less than kick-your-teeth-in wit and fearlessness.
While Maureen’s greatest accomplishment is her Pulitzer Prize for reporting on a blowjob, Molly always said her greatest accomplishments were: having the Minneapolis police force’s mascot pig named after her, and being banned from the Texas A&M campus.
While even Oxford students can’t figure out where the hell Maureen stands on anything, there was never any doubt where Molly stood on the big issues.
She hated George W. Bush’s guts. She once said: “Everyone knows the man has no clue, but no one has the courage to say it. I mean, good gawd, the man is as he always has been: barely adequate.”
She also hated Pat Buchanan. Pat once delivered a famous “culture war speech” at the 1992 Republican Convention, where he railed against “liberals, and supporters of reproductive and gay rights.” Afterward, Molly remarked that the speech, “probably sounded better in the original German.”
When talking about the difference between Maureen and Molly, I really can’t say it better than Molly said it herself: “There are two kinds of humor. One kind that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity. The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule.”
Well, I don’t want to chuckle at my government, but I do want them to feel contempt and ridicule. So while I hate, hate, hate Maureen Dowd, I love Molly Ivins, and this is my tribute to her.
It’s up to you to decide which one is the angel of ball-bashing journalism and which one is a shallow, painted clown. But I’ll leave you with the words from the ladies themselves:
This is the last paragraph of Molly Ivin’s last column:
We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we’re for them and trying to get them out of there.
And this is a line from one of Maureen Dowd’s latest columns:
I don’t think Sarah Palin meeting with Henry Kissinger is a sign of the Apocalypse. It isn’t even a sign of the ApocaLIPSTIC.
The decision…is yours.