A theory of the genesis of MoDowd’s column today:
In the dead of night, in the elegantly-yet-whimsically decorated home office of a Georgetown brownstone, a clandestine meeting takes place between two writers with one goal.
“So, Sassy Mo, I’ve got an idea for our next column,” Deep Dowd says, pensively swirling a glass of pinot gris on her desk. “It occurred to me as I was re-reading The Prince on the treadmill this afternoon that both John McCain and Hillary Clinton have a vested interest in seeing Barack Obama defeated this November. So maybe, for Wednesday, we should examine that interest. I think something like that would be really useful for our millions of readers as they’re deciding which candidate to vote for in November.”
“Uuuuugggghhh,” Sassy Mo sighs, flinging herself onto a velvet chaise longue. “Sorry, Deep Dowd, but that sounds so dull.” She grabs her gimlet, un-coastered and sweating onto the side table. “We’re supposed to entertain our readers, not bore them to death!” She takes a long swig, crunching loudly on the ice. “We’re Cymbalta, honey, not Lunesta.”
Sassy sets the drink back on the table, settling again onto the chaise.
“But, Sassy,” Deep says, pulling a coaster out of her jacket pocket and sliding it under the gimlet glass, “I hate to disagree but we do write for The New York Times. The paper of record, and everything. Don’t you think we have a responsibility to give readers some substance? Haven’t we gotten this far because of our expertise? And, I mean, anyone can be witty.”
Sassy jumps up from the chaise. “Anyone can be witty?!? Are you kidding me? No one’s as clever as I am! NO ONE! Are you telling me there’s someone else out there who could have come up with Obambi? I don’t think so!”
She glares at Deep Dowd. “Take it back.”
Deep Dowd swirls her wine glass forlornly. “Look, I was just trying to say—”
“And by the way, Miss Serious Reporter, or whatever you think you are, there are tons of people out there just as savvy as you! Just because you throw around French phrases and go around quoting Candide or whatever doesn’t mean—”
Deep Dowd springs from her chair. “Oh, you did not just say that! When you dis Voltaire, you dis me!”
Deep Dowd lunges at Sassy Mo, grabbing her hair. Sassy squeals in pain, slapping Deep on the shoulder.
Deep sneers. “You slap like a girl,” she says.
“At least I am a girl,” Sassy replies.
“What, so I’m manly, or something? Whatever, at least I’m educated.”
“Whatever, at least I’m funny!”
“Well, analysis is more important!”
“No, humor’s more important!”
“Well, you took my integrity!”
“Well, you took my youth!”
“Well, I won us the Pulitzer!”
“No, I won us the Pulitzer!”
They gasp, staring at each other in shock.
Deep Dowd draws a long breath. “Okay,” she says, stepping back and smoothing her hair, “clearly we have some issues.” She sits down at her desk. “So how about, instead of fighting each other all the time, we compromise. How about we do creative commentary.”
Sassy rubs her eyes, sniffling. “Fine,” she says. “As long as I can still be witty.”
“Sure,” Deep Dowd replies, pulling a tissue from her jacket pocket. “As long as I can still do analysis.” She hands the tissue to Sassy Mo.
“Thanks,” Sassy says. “So I can call Obama ‘Twig Legs’?”
“That’s fine,” Deep says. “As long as I can mention polling numbers.”
They smile at each other. “Deal,” they say in unison.Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.