Last week, we were confounded by the Times Magazine’s decision to allow longtime Times writer Alex Kuczynski to write about hiring a surrogate mother in a way that made her sound vain and self-centered, and to illustrate said account with pictures of the writer alongside a baby nurse and the surrogate, all trussed up like a colonial Lady of the Manor. The editors there must secretly hate her, we reasoned. Why else would they do that? Apparently public editor Clark Hoyt wondered the same thing, because yesterday he asked basically same question in his column. He got some answers, but they just confused us even more.
Kuczynski, who said she disagreed with her editors over the photographs before publication, said she felt they were “incendiary” and distracted from the story. Hilling, clearly portrayed in the article as middle class, described the porch as “the ugliest part” of her renovated, 135-year-old home. She said she felt the photo of her was “contrived.” Gerald Marzorati, the editor of the magazine, acknowledged the “upstairs, downstairs” quality of the photos but said they were not set up to be that way.
Okay, so wait. The photos just “accidentally” came out that way?
And these seasoned magazine people didn’t have an inkling of what they might look like? We’re sorry, but the only way this makes sense is for one of the following reasons: (a) The photographer went rogue, and without informing the magazine’s editor or photo editor or the subject, beamed the nanny into the above shot, using the hologram technology CNN used during the Election Night coverage. (b) Alex Kuczynski is actually blind and deaf. This would explain why she not only failed to hear the photographer going “Oy, nanny, stand here looking as though you may be expected to take the sniveling brat back at any minute,” and didn’t realize, when it came to the cover shoot, that she was wearing a little black dress, a chignon, and those shoes with famously splashy red soles while her surrogate mom was wearing the Wal-Mart Special. Or (c) she trusted the place she’s worked at for years not to let her look like a jerk. Whoops.