Ooh. Joel Stein is all excited. Someone noticed his column. People are threatening his life. He stands by his column. He’s a regular Judy Miller. And all he had to say was “I don’t support our troops.”
But we don’t think he means it. Do you think he means it? It's kind of obvious he’s looking for attention for his column in the LA Times. No?
Joel Stein is a weisenheimer who writes a “humour” column. He’s happily lightweight, more suitable as one of those VH-1 “We Love The 70s” talking heads, offering quips about Lee Majors and The Hudson Brothers (disclosure: Tabloid Baby author Burt Kearns appeared as a talking head in some of those VH-1 specials). The word “snarky” was invented to describe him. He shouldn’t be allowed to write about serious stuff.
But Stein is an old person’s idea of young person’s point of view, so he managed to get a spot in Time magazine, and when Michael Kinsley took over and tried to “hip up” the L.A. Times editorial pages, a Sunday column there. It was the most useless, irrelevant and, well, “snarky,” LA Times column since Chicago sports writer Mike Downey temporarily moved to, then lost, the coveted page 2 spot.
After Kinsley left his mess behind at the LA Times, Stein was removed from the Sunday pages and, probably due to his Kinsley contract, given a midweek column.
No one paid it much heed until yesterday, when Stein wrote “I don’t support our troops.”
The reaction has been scripted and played out many times before. It’s been played out before. He writes the column, the right wing dunderheads stand on their bully pulpits and denounce him, the paper is flooded with letters, calls and emails, subscriptions are canceled, and Joel Stein gets to report that he’s received death threats. He’ll show up on TV, he’ll get on the lecture circuit-- heck, he might even sell a script in Hollywood.
Of course, Stein offered a "serious" explanation for his incendiary lead. But he knew no one would read further. He knew he was throwing a bomb. And he needed to, so he'd be noticed.
Now if Joel Stein turns up dead or tarred and feathered, we apologize in advance. And of course he has the right to write whatever he wants. And he may even be right.
But one thing seems certain: Joel Stein is one cynical bastard.