One of the most desperate tactics a journalist can resort to is using another journalist as a source. It’s even more desperate when the journalist used as a source is from the antipodal publication to your own, a publication whose credibility your worthless paper would never endorse were you not in a bad bind and really needed to flesh-out an unformed rehash of a story. But it’s really desperate when the journalist you use as a source is funnier and more effortlessly talented than you are, and upstages you with brio.
Take today’s New York Post, which features a not-so timely piece on whether or not Oliver Stone’s Alexander is too gay. Written by the Post‘s giddy answer to Walter Monheit, Jr., “Captain” Lou Lumenick, it’s called Light in the Sandals. (Get it? That’s, like, a joke about fags.)
After a few paragraphs of quoting from the trailer and citing articles previously published in Playboy and Entertainment Weekly (in the biz, we call this sort of shoe leather-preserving reporting “a rounder”), Lumenick gets someone on the horn:
“Village Voice columnist Michael Musto, who has long monitored homosexual behavior in Hollywood films, says they tend to shy away from showing the physical aspects of gay love, especially when major stars are involved.
‘This film tries to have it both ways, like Alexander himself,’ Musto said.”
See, this is the problem with resorting to this sort of lame, lazy journalism. In one well-turned, humorous phrase, Michael Musto steals his equally alliterative interviewer Lou Lumenick’s article right out from under him. (I also like how Lumenick makes his source sound like some sort of anthropologist of gay Hollywood, endowed, as it were, with a grant from the N.E.H.)
Lumenick probably sought out Musto for his years of experience dispensing soundbites like that on VH1 and any show that will cover his steep per diem (zip, as it turns out), but if Lumenick were a real journalist, he would’ve just stolen Musto’s joke and called it his own. That’s how the pros do it.
Related: More gay Oliver Stone news from today’s Post.