Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway openly despises the media and thwarts its efforts to report accurately in the public’s interests whenever possible. That has been her job, or at least a significant part of it, since she joined the Trump campaign in August. Conway is dogmatic in her hatred of the media, yet ever since she aligned herself publicly and professionally with Trump, many in the media (not all!) have felt an incessant responsibility to carefully and compassionately report on how deeply human and charming she is, as evidenced most recently by an 8,000-word New York Magazine cover story published on Saturday titled “The True First Lady of Trump’s America.”
This is by no means the first profile of Conway, nor is it the first national magazine cover awarded to an influential player in the Trump administration (Bannon, for instance, appeared on a Time cover in February). It’s not like there’s a dearth of coverage or conversation about the Trump administration, or Kellyanne, and New York’s profile is particularly flattering, beginning with the cover, which literally portrays Conway in a good light, flashing an appealing, open-mouth smile and dressed like a modern-day pilgrim.
The profile itself is pretty tame, full of quirky anecdotes and generous analysis. At one point, Conway explains again (though it’s a slight variation) that she totally goofed the whole “Bowling Green Massacre” thing—she’d meant to say “Bowling Green masterminds.” That applies to all the times she said it, I suppose, though she doesn’t clarify.
She then rattles off examples of “alternative facts,” a phrase she famously coined to justify her lies and even make them trendy. “Two plus two is four,” Kellyanne tells New York, “Three plus one is four. Partly cloudy, partly sunny. Glass half full, glass half empty.” Despite these evasive koans, New York reporter Olivia Nuzzi assures her readers that Conway is actually a “chronic oversharer” possessed of an, “airy voice and cheeky sense of humor,” and a “charming and magnetic,” disposition. Nuzzi concedes that “In her capacity as Trump’s spokeswoman, Conway has said many incorrect things.” Actually, she lies.
It’s not just Conway who comes off better than one would hope, that’s one of the problems with sympathetically profiling the White House’s resident spin artist. Sean Spicer attempts sarcasm, Trump gets defended against charges of sexism, yet again. Conway calls Bannon the White House’s “man of mystery,” and Bannon in turn calls Conway, “Broadway Danny Rose—you know, that Woody Allen movie where he was he agent for every kind of vaudeville long act, and he’d stick with these people forever?”
There’s plenty more in the piece (it’s very long!) that I don’t have the time or speed-typing skills to expound upon here, but hopefully that gives you a taste. In particular, I hope someone with more hours and fingers than I have delves into the deep weirdness of portraying Conway as Trump’s platonic mistress on the cover.
Elsewhere, the New York Times reported on Saturday that Kellyanne’s husband, George Conway, was nominated to head the Justice Department’s civil division. As Conway’s influence grows, so does the distracting coverage of what on earth she might actually be thinking and feeling, which is of far less consequence. I get reporters having a brief infatuation with a beguiling new subject, but at this point, at this length, with this much of a power imbalance, those who still want to go deeper are just playing themselves.
[via New York Magazine]