Friday, May 19, 2006

One Good Yank Deserves Another

We were baffled as to the whys and wherefores of a profile the Houston Chronicle mysteriously presented earlier this week of Evan Smith, the Texas Monthly editor. The story, which could charitably be described as “slurpy,” followed a tried-and-true narrative arc: native New Yorker assumes editorship of stale Texas institution, initially meets resistance and gathers critics but eventually triumphs by returning magazine to its “hard-hitting yet cheeky roots” (evidence of which is supplied solely by a superior and a subordinate at the magazine, as well as by Smith himself), etc.

Still, there was something odd about the story, perhaps because there was no apparent news peg on which to hang its appearance, or perhaps because the daily newspaper generally doesn’t do profiles---even of people who actually live in Houston and might have some impact on the city.

We scanned the piece and moved on, having learned only that the writer appeared to take the Texas Monthly editor almost as seriously as he seems to take himself. Then correspondent Il Pinguino reminded us that Evan Smith was the author of an equally fawning profile of Chronicle editor Jeff “A.M.” Cohen that appeared in Texas Monthly shortly after Cohen’s arrival at the daily (and before the loathing in which he is reportedly held by a large part of his newsroom had fully set in). It was also pointed out to us that the wife of Cohen's No. 2 man at the paper works for Smith at Texas Monthly.

That’s how it is in the big-media world: Incestuous. And incest breeds … well, you know.

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