Jewish World Review June 17, 2003 / 17 Sivan, 5763

Media Person

Media Person
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Consumer Reports

Buy, yes, but read? | Media Person was just wondering: are any of you actually going to sit down and read Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton? That's what we don't know. We do know that the media hillaried and schmillaried all week, in print and on air. The book sold more than 200,000 copies its first day in the bookstores, and the publisher announced it would rush to churn out yet more copies on top of its initial run of 1 million. But are you going to read it? Is anyone?

An informal survey among Media Person's friends, relatives and two large guys who came to deliver his new air conditioners (replacing the 30-year-old models that now leak on the heads of MP's downstairs neighbors while efficiently keeping his place nice and warm), revealed this percentage of Americans planning to read the book: 0. Of course Media Person's polling technique is not merely unscientific but anti-scientific. Still, you've got to wonder.

The right loathes Hillary more than anyone in the world, except for her husband, and you have to assume that many of the 1,300,000 extant Living Historys will be acquired by conservative columnists, pundits and radio talk-show hosts in order to vomit venom on it. The media, except for Anna Quindlen, are reflexively cynical toward Hillary, but many Americans, according to polls generally considered more accurate than Media Person's, admire her. Still, don't even these people know that the only interesting stuff (the Bill and Hill and Monica stuff) has already been revealed by Barbara Walters and the AP? Even if they haven't read Michiko Kakutani's review, can't they glean from the media atmosphere that this memoir "has the overprocessed taste of a stump speech, the calculated polish of a string of anecdotes to be delivered on a television chat show?"

In fact, aren't most of them more interested in the Gambian giant pouched rat than in Hillary's tortuous tiptoe around the potholes of inconvenient truth? Media Person is. He has no desire to read Living History but a ferocious thirst to learn every fact he can about the Gambian giant pouched rat, which the authorities are blaming for America's most fascinating new weird disease, monkeypox.

You are no doubt acquainted with the following insane facts that came to light last week, but Media Person will repeat them for the sake of journalistic convention: 1. Monkeypox outbreak occurs in the Midwest. 2. All humans infected are linked to pet prairie dogs. 3. Pet prairie dogs infected are linked to the Gambian giant pouched rat. 4. None of this has anything to do with monkeys.

If you are anything at all like Media Person, and for your sake, he sincerely hopes you aren't, what you did upon learning all this was log on to Google and type in "Gambian giant pouched rat." The search took 0.04 seconds and produced 297 hits. And what a rewarding search it was. Media Person spent a happy hour reading GGPR Web sites. As a result, he is now one of the leading Gambian giant pouched rat experts on the East Coast.

Here are just a few of the amazing facts Media Person uncovered in his quest for rodential truth:

1. If not for its bulging cheek pouches, used to store nuts, other foodstuffs and bedding material, the Gambian giant pouched rat could be easily mistaken for an enormous common brown rat. 2. Belgian scientists, in cooperation with the Tanzanian government, are training Gambian giant pouched rats to detect buried land mines.

3. Pet enthusiasts use the term "fancy rat" to differentiate their domesticated rodents from sewer rats, roof rats, ship rats and other non-fancy rats.

4. Two male Gambian giant pouched rats kept in the same cage will often fight to the death. If this occurs, DO NOT try to come between them unless you are a professional giant rat handler. Dial 911 and take cover.

5. The Gambian giant pouched rat is naturally neat and will reserve one corner of its cage for bodily waste deposits.

6. Males are more vocal then females, often greeting their owners with squeaks, chirps, churrs and other strange noises, at times sounding similar to a raccoon.

7. According to Gambian giant pouched rat owner Jazmyn Concolor, you should never lift one by the end of the tail as the skin will come off in your hand, resulting in "a very large upset giant rat to calm down."

8. If you notice some small object gone missing in your home, it may well be in the cheek of your pet Gambian giant pouched rat, which has a tendency to absent-mindedly cram things into its pouches.

9. Dave Morgan of South Africa's Transvaal Snake Park reports that pet Gambian giant pouched rats are prone to a stress-related condition in which they chew off their own tails. Such neurotic individuals he releases, considering them hopeless.

JWR contributor Media Person -- a.k.a Lewis Grossberger -- is a columnist for Media Week. Comment by clicking here.


06/11/03: Queasy Rider
05/28/03: How Hip Is Hop?
05/14/03: Will endorse for food
05/06/03: Kick this sick shtick
04/16/03: Important developments you may have missed because of all the war stuff clogging up the media
03/25/03: To go or not to go
03/12/03: How to talk war talk
03/04/03: Two master debaters
02/26/03: The Miracle Continues: Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies
02/19/03: Yanking the Franks
02/05/03: LET MY LETTERS GO!
01/28/03: Into the Pity Pit
01/15/03: Not My Cup of Joe
01/09/03: It was back in '03
12/17/02: Did you get taken?
12/05/02: Mathers of importance

© 2002, Lewis Grossberger