by Curt Guyette
The compilation, cobbled together by David Wagner, offers his selection of 2012’s 50 worst columns. We’ll let him explain how it is arrived at:
“‘Punditry is fundamentally useless,’ Nate Silver recently declared. Now we don't think every hack with an inch count and an opinion is all that bad. But while sifting through opinion fodder every morning to find the day's five best columns, we’ve come across plenty of arguments that prove Silver's point. Coming to the end of a year when math geeks helped contextualize politics (and a lot of other things) better than talking heads, we wanted to take some time out of The Atlantic Wire's Year in Review to re-read and reflect on the most noxious, wrongheaded, misleading, silly, and downright awful columns to somehow end up in print or online in 2012.”
Which brings us to Detroit’s most lovable scab, the one and omnipresent Albom, who was unfortunate enough to land two columns on Wagner’s list of losers.
To be fair, some of MT’s hackiest work, like our weekly News Hits column (or Newshits if you remove, as often probably should be done, a single space) doesn’t even register as a blip on Wagner’s radar; you have to have climbed pretty high in the world of column writing for him to single you out for a little smack down.
Luminaries such as Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, David Brooks of the New York Times and The Washington Post’s George Will all found spots on Wagner’s dishonor role this year. So Mitchell is in pretty good company here.
But even among this crowd, on a list that’s divided up using a variety of cutesy/cutting categories, our man Albom earned a spot all alone under the title: “The One Columnist You Meet In Hell”
Gotta love that.
Here are the two Albom stinkers Wagner sniffed out, and what he had to say about them:
For a piece on service industry workers: “Don't make the bestselling author of Tuesdays with Morrie say it again, service workers. He wants wheat toast, dammit, not rye. ‘Is it just me? Or does no one in the service business listen the first time you speak?’ Mitch Albom asks, totally miffed by all these rude (and totally overpaid) Starbucks employees. ‘Today, the customer is little more than an annoyance on the other side of the glass, or phone, or counter.’”
Regarding the novel Fifty Shades of Grey: “‘Kinky sex. Sex with ropes. Masks. A few devices you previously only read about in Popular Mechanics. And women are loving it.’ That’s Mitch Albom attempting to describe E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey. But it's funnier if you read it as if he were describing his own bedroom manner.”
Keep it up, Mitch, if you can.