In this week’s New Yorker, writer Tad Friend takes on entertainment-industry reporting diva Nikki Finke, whose Deadline Hollywood Daily site he describes as “Hollywood’s most dreaded news source.” The piece is fine—Friend has covered this terrain before, and for those who don’t follow the business of Hollywood, it’s a handy guide to how the shark pool churns in the new blog-driven era. But, as sometimes happens with these kinds of stories, the most interesting thing about the whole exercise has been watching Finke herself wheel right back around, as she is wont to do, and take a bite out the magisterial magazine.
The New Yorker posted the article to its website Sunday morning. By 6:23 a.m. Los Angeles time, Finke herself had fired back a riposte that started off by calling the whole magazine “unrelentingly boring” and then descended into broadside attacks against Friend (“easy to manipulate”) and the “slipshod” fact-checking department. (Full disclosure: your blogger used to be a member of that department, and, well, it’s an often thankless, tricky job that becomes nearly impossible to do at all, let alone well, when, as Friend writes, you’re stuck dealing with powerful people for whom “facts are not fixed pillars but trial balloons that you inflate with the gas of vehement assertion.”)
The most fascinating bit, though, is the weirdly anachronistic Jewish class distinction Finke—a onetime debutante and Wellesley girl who grew up on Long Island’s WASPy North Shore, with a mother who simultaneously insisted her daughter marry a Jew, held annual Easter egg hunts, and referred to other (presumably less assimilated) Jews as “Eskimos”—invokes by dismissing David Remnick, the New Yorker’s Hackensack-born, Princeton-educated editor, as “this New Jersey dentist’s son.” And not just that. “Now remember, readers,” she wrote. “You, too, can make The New Yorker your buttboy. Just act like a cunt and treat Remnick like a putz.” Quick! Someone get Philip Roth on rewrite!