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Comments: Week of April 11, 2011

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1. Chris Smith’s story about Governor Andrew Cuomo’s tactical brilliance in overcoming obstacles with the State Legislature (“The Gamer,” April 4) proved remarkably timely. It hit the stands just as Cuomo got his version of the state budget passed—an unusual success story in Albany, where government functions are perennially gummed up by competing self-interests. Both Capital Tonight and the Albany Times Union’s Capital Confidential blog praised Smith’s insight into the process. Nymag.com commenters and letter writers were more interested in Cuomo’s budget choices, which incensed them. “What angers me is that Andrew Cuomo opposed extending the millionaire’s surcharge,” one reader wrote. “It is outrageous, in this time of austerity, that the wealthy, who do not need it, are the only people in New York State getting tax cuts. In my book Cuomo is no good and has been bribed by the campaign contributions of the wealthy.” Another predicted that “as we start to feel the actual effects of Cuomo’s cuts, I’d wager he will be as unpopular as ­Paterson in two years, if not more. Hopefully NYMag will drool over his unpopularity rating the way it has over his current popularity.”

2. Bloggers found Benjamin Wallace’s profile of the semi–First Lady of New York, Sandra Lee (“The ­Ravenous and ­Resourceful Sandra Lee,” April 4), both tasty and filling, with the New York Times Diner’s Journal savoring it for “being ­almost completely uncondescending to the Semi-Homemade entrepreneur” and both Jezebel and Gothamist lingering over its “interesting tidbits.” Many commenters on nymag.com, however, were willing to be at least semi-condescending, with such observations as “I’m anything but a food snob, but I’ve flipped through a couple of her cookbooks, and … yeeeeeeesh”; “She’s single-handedly revived the Nilla Wafers industry”; “Well, I think it’s great that she managed to get herself out of poverty, and they seem to be happy together. But her food really does look gross”; and “I don’t like her show, I think she’s fake, but I am happy for her.” The notion that the capital’s media “bristled with excitement” over Sandra Lee’s arrival left a bad taste in the mouth of some state political writers, with Kevin Marshall blogging at the Albany Times Union that “at no point was Lee a lead, nor was there much local media interest at all, let alone to the degree Wallace prescribes … Celebrity maybe, but superstar? Hardly. It was her association with Cuomo that raised her profile, not the other way around.” Perhaps that’s true among political reporters in Albany—“the world capital of boring,” as Wallace called it, which Marshall also found unpalatable. Sarah Laskow at the blog Tapped found a good deal of political nutritional value in Lee, however. “I’m not a big fan of Semi-Homemade Sandra Lee as recipe writer, cook, or TV personality. But as a political spouse, she’s the best we have. First of all, she’s not actually a political spouse … Lee is the first partner of a high-profile politician to opt out of her assigned role altogether that I know of. She can do this partially because she is legitimately more famous than Cuomo. Acting as New York’s official hostess would actually be a waste of her time.”


3. Infowars, the website of conspiracy-minded radio host Alex Jones, posted a lengthy rebuttal to Joe Hagan’s profile of him (“A Strange Man Is Following You,” April 4), encouraging Jones’s acolytes to “counter the fabrications presented in this hit piece.” Soon enough, the article garnered over 1,000 comments, almost all from Jones supporters. Most of them shared the same oracular sense of mission as this commenter: “We ­recognize truth, it ­resonates ­within us, deep ­inside our hearts and souls. We understand the responsibility that comes along with patriotism. We respect the truth and foster the ability to investigate and decide for ourselves.” To that end, one in ten lambasted the magazine for being part of the decadent mainstream media—or, as one put it, “paid ­puppet ­sheeple ­journalists.” Many respondents deployed a shared vocabulary, including “we’re awake” or “wake up” and “V for victory” and—that word again—“sheeple,” while accusing the magazine of being affiliated with “the government,” “the Establishment,” “corporations,” “the Globalists,” “the CIA,” or of being “the New York Times.” One simply declared that “Satan is [your] boss.” Twelve plugged Ron Paul, 56 Trutherism, and 24 decried the “new world order.” Pleased with the success of this virtual Jones rally, one wrote in: “To the participants of this thread, we know what we have done tonight. It is nothing short of an absolute blow to the enemy, and by GOD, the truth will prevail.” Certain of the comments were removed by the magazine after being judged excessively vituperative, prompting one commenter to write: “Comment reviewer, make sure the beer you drink tonight after your delete key blows up doesn’t have any fluoride in it. Fluoride kills.”

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