It’s been a while since we’ve checked in on the musings of Washington Post in-house coot Richard Cohen, who’s hated every single development in American culture since 1958. Earlier this year he spent a whole column ranting about the kids and their tattoos (“I simply do not care for tattoos”), another about Amazon’s Kindle (“I simply do not care for the Kindle”), and, of course, another about Barack Obama’s age (“I simply do not care for the age of Barack Obama”). Basically, all Richard Cohen wants in life is a few twigs to rub together and some of grandma’s licorice stick. All a man really needs. In today’s column he tackles a new devil, that con sarn BlackBerry telephone machine. He simply does not care for Obama’s BlackBerry telephone, especially when there are perfectly good print newspapers out there that perform the exact same functions, and women are also awful.

Richard Cohen was actually President of the United States for six terms in the “Roaring Twenties” — terms were only 8 months long in those days, see, and they didn’t call them “terms” then, they called them “dickies” — so he knows him a thing or two about Obama’s new job. He opens with some advice for the little skunk:

Barack Obama seems to have a recurring nightmare. In it, he is president of the United States, the most powerful man in the world, but cannot vanquish the one force that has bedeviled all presidents: The Bubble. It can swallow a presidency, isolating the chief executive from both the news he should know and the opinions he should hear, and ensuring that he goes through his day attuned to the comforting chirping of yes men — the siren song that serenaded George W. Bush as he plunged us into the muck of Iraq.

All of this can be blamed on Obama’s BlackBerry:

For some odd reason, Obama has fastened on to his BlackBerry as an antidote to The Bubble. It won’t work. When the BlackBerry is valued for e-mail, it is no different from staff. It will be only as candid as the people on the other end. The First BlackBerry will lie.

Good god, here we go…

There is a remedy of sorts.

Oh Jesus Christ

It is called The Newspaper.


It’s somewhat antiquated and often awkward to use, but it will bring news to the president he does not want to hear. The paper is not written with him in mind. The paper does not set out to please him, and it is not seeking a job. The paper will give the president more policy options than his staff will, and more news as well. In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower responded to a question at a news conference by saying, “You are telling me things about my administration that I have never heard.” This is what a newspaper does.


A BlackBerry is of limited utility. You cannot have a hearty family breakfast with everyone gathered around the BlackBerry. But with a good newspaper, the president could read the hard-news section, the first lady could adhere to gender orthodoxy and read the softer sections, and the kids could chuckle at the comics. Just as in the old movies, papa could explain things, like what’s the purpose of NATO anymore. (I’m dying to know this myself.) Not all newspapers have comic sections, but even those that don’t usually have sports pages and business columns.


A high-quality newspaper is a repository of leaks. Presidents don’t care for leaks, but like awful-tasting medicine, leaks are good for presidents. Leaks are an important way that one part of the government can communicate with another. An assistant Cabinet secretary cannot pick up the phone and call the president. His boss won’t let him. His boss might block something the president should know. This is where leaks come in. The low-level guy leaks the information to a newspaper and the president reads about it at breakfast.


This cannot happen with a BlackBerry.


Everyone OK?

(Oh, and Richard, you can read full newspapers on a BlackBerry. It has Internet access and everything.)

UPDATE: Yes AND ALSO it should be noted that Obama does read print newspapers, frequently, because newspapers and BlackBerrys are not mutually exclusive. So the real question is, why doesn’t Richard Cohen read the pool reports?

Piercing the Bubble of Presidential Isolations [Washington Post]

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  1. Richard is just concerned that if he (Richard) had a blackberry, it wouldn’t look good hanging on his belt next to the onion, which was the fashion at the time.

  2. Third option: he can hire Campbell Brown to read him the days news in her dulcet tones every morning as Michele cooks a Traditional American breakfast.

  3. I thought Andy Rooney had the market corner on freaky eyebrowed crustiness?

    Bet that Dicky spends a lot of his time muttering about kids and how they waste precious quarters because back in his day he could get a steak dinner, 15 shots of single malt and a hefty tip with enough change leftover for a quick hand job from the loose girl on the corner for a quarter.

  4. You can even watch Campbell Brown on your Blackberry, in short skirt and heels on the YouTube, or live streaming at 8pm Weeknights

  5. Actually, he kind of makes a good point there, and it’s not just limited to the President. With cable news and blogs, we’re all very good now at manufacturing our own bubbles. Newspapers and network TV were sort of a common ground where you didn’t necessarily agree with everything that they said, but you had to pay attention because it was there.

    Of course, it might have helped if all newspapers hadn’t sold their souls to please the great whore of “shareholder value”. I can’t think of a single newspaper that reports on substantive things on a regular basis anymore.

    Anyway, they’re all going out of business, to be replaced solely by Campbell Brown, Weeknights at 8 PM on CNN.

  6. I think this guy just likes the pre-pubescent newspaper boy coming around daily hopin’ for tips. I know. I was a pre-pubescent newspaper boy. Now I won’t touch those dirty things. And the ink rubs off ALL over you. Yuk

  7. Fucking. Hilarious.

    I simply ADORE when newspaper people think they are coming up with fantastic new sayeths such as “The Bubble” or “Dewey Defeats Truman” and what not. Richard Cohen is a self-appointed intellectual, and for that reason alone he should be tarred, feathered and run out of town on the next Wells Fargo wagon that comes through town.

  8. Since when does anyone gather around the newspaper at breakfast anymore? And since when does anyone have time for breakfast anymore? I only partake in breakfast foods at Sunday brunch. Once a week eggs is enough to maintain my shiny coat.

  9. “You cannot have a hearty family breakfast with everyone gathered around the BlackBerry. But with a good newspaper, the president could read the hard-news section, the first lady could adhere to gender orthodoxy and read the softer sections, and the kids could chuckle at the comics.”

    sure, each are perfectly good ways for families to ignore each other

  10. He does know that you can own a BlackBerry AND read newspapers, right? Like, concurrently? As in, they don’t refuse to sell you newspapers should they see you with a BB in hand?

    I’d also like to see him suggest to Michelle Obama’s face that she stick to the “softer sections” of the paper. I’m sure once she gets over her fierce case of the vapors and Malia has brought her back ’round with the judicious application of smelling salts that she’ll have a thing or two to say in reply. Or maybe just a high heeled shoe to shove up his ass.

  11. I just hope the Wonkette proprietors are making lots of money off the Campbell Brown account. It’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow someone some good.

  12. Every time I try to read Cohen, I doze off. All his columns just say Blah blah blah Blaaaaah zzzzzzzz. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure, Jim, you are the first person in the history of the world to actually read one of his columns all the way through.

  13. [re=200092]Iggy Plop[/re]: right?? i mean, “Achilles’ Last Stand” and “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” come on!

    both of which, btw, would be perfect closing anthems for the bush presidency.

  14. You can make brandy out of blackberries. You can make paper hats out of newspapers. Perhaps there’s room for both? Let’s put on our party hats and drink it over.

  15. Cohen is right! Damn, I’m subscribing to the News-Paper again. Because I want yesterday’s news tomorrow.
    Also, I’m throwing away my fancy-ass computer and dusting off the old Underwood. The one with the ding in it from where it took a Hun slug at Passchendaele. Hey, sonny! Yes, you! Here’s a nickel — run down to the corner and fetch me a ream of onion-skin paper, some airmail envelopes and a typewriter ribbon! By Jove, I’ve got a spring in me kippers!

  16. Right. Newspapers are unerringly accurate. All media’s been shit since Cronkite.

    A blackberry is a tool, Cohen. Not in the same way you are though. They are small, smart, shiny and awesome.
    Go take ur nap now. Andy Rooney’s not dead yet. We don’t need you.

  17. Yeah it’s Presence, the … 6th album? It is HEAVY, very weird record to put out in 1977, the age of UK Punk and NYC Disco and the Rolling Stones making a reggae album (in the same studio where Presence was done, in Germany!).

    One hilarious thing about Richard Cohen’s total idiocy is that he somehow works at a big news organization, in Washington, and has somehow missed the fact that Obama is constantly photographed reading newspapers, in the printed newsprint format. Cockbags like Cohen — and it is a great insult to Leonard and the other non-retarded Cohens of Earth that Dickie has this last name — are so proud of themselves for being old shitsacks who so love reading the news a day or two late on newsprint that he doesn’t have time to actually read newspapers, online or off, and know that this mysterious colored president actually reads the fucking things every day.

    I miss Michael Kelly’s Washington Post columns. Why couldn’t Richard have gone to Iraq?

  18. [re=200119]Iggy Plop[/re]: [re=200113]JohnnyMeatworth[/re]:
    Zeppelin, FTW. However if either of you put on “Stairway to Heaven” tonight, I will beat you telepathically with the side of a mighty sword.

  19. I really wish Valerie Solanas was still alive so I could send her a copy of this column with the phrase “adhere to gender orthodoxy” highlighted, along with Richard Cohen’s contact info.

  20. [re=200128]shortsshortsshorts[/re]: There’s a lady who’s sure
    all that glitters is gold
    and she’s on CNN 8pm weeknights

    can i haz TRUCKNUTZ?

  21. It’s brave to see someone calling for a limit to the President’s sources of information. Not since Dick Cheney have we seen this type of bold vision.

  22. Presence was recorded and released in March 1976, one month before the Ramones’ debut album and 18 months before Never Mind the Bollocks was released. In Through the Out Door is a much, much, stranger album with all of the synths (John Paul Jones had more to do with the sound), having been released in 1979 after all the major punk and even post-punk bands had come out with records. According to them, Wearing and Tearing recorded for that session (but not released until 1982 on the Coda album) was their only overt nod to punk.

    Every Zeppelin album has weak spots (Presence’s Tea for One and FOr Your Life are kind of weak); my favorite is Physical Graffiti, because it melded new songs for ’75 (Kashmir, Trampled Underfoot) with outtakes from prior albums.

  23. With a newspaper the eyes have to scan the page to find articles of interest, and they might accidentally become contaminated by something icky written by a Republican. At least with all this modern technology stuff you can hone it down and know exactly where to go to hear what you want to hear, when you want to hear it…MSNBC instead of Fox, for example. Don’t mess with my happy comfy bubble, Cohen.

  24. [re=200145]norbizness[/re]: Led Zeppelin III and Houses of the Holy are tied for best ever. I will not accept argument on this.

    And Richard Cohen doesn’t care about black people.

  25. [re=200147]lazynamepicker[/re]: Those experienced or who have doctoral degrees should do something with the right hand graphic and either this picture or this cartoon.

    [re=200151]shortsshortsshorts[/re]: Dancing Days is definitely my favorite song, and second place might be Celebration Day.

  26. I thought you were kidding and made up that family breakfast table part yourself.

    They must keep Cohen in some kind of pre-60’s Trueman Show time capsule where he is being studied for scientific purposes.

  27. I have no BlackBerry.
    I have no cell phone.
    I have no iPod.
    Ever listen to people’s cell phone conversations? Jesus Fuckin’ Christ! I can’t believe that people unquestionably pay the exorbitant fees to have constant, mind-numbing chit-chat.
    There is a joy and freedom in not being accessible or plugged-in 24/7.

  28. [re=200126]Ken Layne[/re]:

    Business Plan for Wonkette to stop these commies complaining about Campbell Brown advertising:

    (1) Offer advertising free use for 100 bucks per year. This is similar to Joe the Blog – if you buy his lame ass book you get called “Freedom member”
    (2) User bitchin/distractions stop as none of us can afford that / would rather buy drugs
    (3) We all will luv Campbell (although I think there is a preference for male American Apparel models)
    (4) PROFIT

  29. Since nobody asked, my suggestion to save newspapers is to have them do what the British tabloids do and throw in pictures of topless women. Who cares about more stories about local issues when you could put up pictures of Lucy Pinder or Michelle Marsh instead?

  30. [re=200163]Servo[/re]: At the grocery store: Hi Honey. They have whole wheat on sale for $2.29, but the wheatberry is $2.79. What do you think? Uh huh … I’ll get the whole wheat. I’ll call you from the produce section. Bye.

  31. In 2010, Malia Obama responded to a Mark Trail strip by saying, “You are telling me things about muskrats that I have never heard.” This is what a newspaper does.

  32. People please, it could be way worse. We could be forced to look at a 40′ tall Greta van Susteren.
    Pre-face transplant, post-face transplant, who cares.

  33. [re=200081]Advocatus_Diaboli[/re]: We can’t bust heads like we used to, but we have our ways. One trick is to tell them stories that don’t go anywhere. Like the time I took the ferry to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe so I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on them. Give me five bees for a quarter you’d say. Now where were we, oh ya. The important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn’t have white onions because if the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones.

  34. [re=200171]jagorev[/re]:
    Uh, used to work for a company that made transoceanic fiber optic telecom terminals. Now I’m a metrologist that sometimes calibrates RF equipment. I don’t need any more electronics than is absolutely necessary.

  35. [re=200188]Mustang[/re]:
    It’s called Virtual Shopping…the wife and I do it all the time.
    She knows I hate it. Sometimes it’s for nothing specific, just browsing.
    This is usually when I turn the conversation into a non stop, single thought
    obsessive about the glory that is (are) her breasts. Before long I return to the
    game in peace, while she shops in silence.

  36. “…A high-quality newspaper is a repository of leaks. Presidents don’t care for leaks, but like awful-tasting medicine, leaks are good for presidents…”

    People, please! Richard just wanted to talk about his penchant for pissing in newspapers and hoping Obama shared his enthusiasm. It’s either that or he’s offering our Hopey a golden shower. I still haven’t completely deciphered his leak leads.

  37. I have found an interesting thing occurring. The stuff I read on Yahoo’s Most Emailed show up in my newspaper two or three DAYS later. Although the paper is still good entertainment, hey my wife loves the crossword, the President would be way better off with his blackberry.

  38. You cannot have a hearty family breakfast with everyone gathered around the BlackBerry.

    Quite right, so make sure everyone has their own Blackberry so we can carry on the American tradition of never speaking to our family members without getting ink on our fingers.

  39. Newspapers.

    Paper boys. Been there, done that. Detroit News. (Whose near demise is now saving otherwise dead trees. Too bad.)

    Collecting for the papers and making change in 20 degree weather. Fingers too numb to move, stick ’em in cold water and howl when you get home.

    You want to sentimentalize that? Newsboys on street corners? Go read some more Dickens, f*ckhead. (I’ve got a coal scuttle with your name on it.

    You want something that will challenge your alleged mind, Cohen, get you outside the Bubble? Read Wonkette. Online. The Internet, pipes and all.

    In this, as in so many other things, R. Cohen is so full of sh*t his eyes are brown. Also.

  40. It’s obviously Richard Cohen who’s in the bubble. For one thing, he completely avoids the issue of Campbell Brown’s show at 8pm on CNN. (Ha ha, people with AdBlock, you can’t escape, it’s like Sebastian Venable in Suddenly, Last Summer.)

  41. It’s a good thing nobody ever reads old Wonkette comments, because all of our Campbell Brown remarks are gonna sound really retarded once she’s left us for a younger, hunkier blog.

  42. If you think Cohen doesn’t like Blackberrys (Blackberries?), you should read David Pogue’s review of the new Storm (the NYT missed a good head, “Storm a Drag”).

    Qaf: I think it’s more like Robert Walker in “Strangers on a Train.”

  43. this man is a bad man. i don’t like this man. why is this man allowed to write columns and have them published in one of these so-called “news-papers”? he shouldn’t be allowed to blog. good thing he don’t know how,, hey what?

  44. [re=200212]Servo[/re]: All hail Lord Servo!
    Calibrator of One Thousand RF Equipments!
    Maker of One Thousand Transoceanic Fiber Optic Terminals!
    Metrologist of One Thosand Metros!

    Long have we floundered in blind service to our vile electronic oppressors ere thou camest to set us free!

    [re=200171]jagorev[/re]: Dude, your iPod has totally commandeered your soul. Turn off the Bad Brains and listen to the hippie.

    I just pooped on my blackberry in the name of freedom. Pass the patchouli, jagoff.

  45. this Campbell Brown thing: all I get is Campbell from just right of the iris in her right eye. Text wise, its: CAMPB

    If you think a giant Campbell Brown is disconcerting, you can maybe imagine one third of a giant Campbell Brown, with only a hint of a smile and the white of her right eye showing…

  46. [re=200134]shortsshortsshorts[/re]: How the West Was Won – or are you counting studio albums only? (or any albums released prior to Bonzo’s death?)

  47. [re=200282]lawrenceofthedesert[/re]: It’s just the way her eyes follow you around the room, like they’re watching…and my afternoon pajamas get sticky.

    [re=200394]hillarys_left_nut[/re]: Sounds like something out of JG Ballard.

  48. OMG–guess what just arrived in my office! Campbell Brown on a stick. I am not making this up. It is a small, maybe 6″, paper representation of Campbell Brown on a popsicle stick. Also, one of Lou Dobbs. Thanks, CNN!!!

    They’re totally awesome–I’m thinking of playing house with them. They can read the news together and then Lou will scream incoherently about how the house is a mess and then Campbell will retort it would be cleaner if he hadn’t kept deporting the Mexicans and then they will sit in sullen silence while Lou drinks Scotch.

  49. What on God’s green earth does this man think a Blackberry is?

    Is this man aware that newspapers across the land are dying out quicker than dinosaurs stuck in the LeBrea Tar Pit?

    When do we get to see Michelle Obama beat him mercilessly, perhaps with a nice Kenneth Cole pump?

    And, again, I’m back to my beginning: what on earth does Mr Cohen think a Blackberry is? He keeps using that word, but I do not think it means what he thinks it means.

  50. Oh, fuck me, has Cohen read anything about the media or journalism (other than the bloviations of the Teem of Coots(tm) at the WaPo)? Even a quick scan of a Howard Kurtz column might be instructive.

    Here’s the 411, in terms you can understand: newspapers exist for advertising. News is the bait to get you to read what would otherwise be known as the Potomac Shopper and Sycophantic Car Reviewer. Newspapers like to please their audiences and their advertisers. Newspapers do not provide any greater range of policy options than the “rich union boss who lives in Grosse Point versus rich car CEO whose kids go to the same private school as the union boss’s kids” coverage that passes for journalism in the United States. He’d get more policy ideas from his daughters than from teevee or the papers, and the ideas would be far more logical and feasible. Christ, even the dog can do better than the papers, and we don’t even know will be yet. So can the staff be that bad?

    Also, is Campbell Brown winking at me? That’s freaky, man. Time for another jolt of joe.

  51. [re=200326]The Brothman Prophecy[/re]:
    I’m not boasting. I’m simply stating that my job is all electronics and therefore I have a gizmo saturation point. BTW, metrology is calibration.
    Stay out of the Parkway Tavern until you calm down.

  52. [re=200081]Advocatus_Diaboli[/re]: Speaking of The Onion (yes, I get the Simpsons reference) this actually sounds like it was written by Herman T. Zwiebel, publisher of The Onion. Gad. Why doesn’t Obama also read only “land mail” written by “secretaries” on “IBM Selectrics” and sent by “Wall Street Bigshots”. Post management needs to put this guy out to “pasture”.

  53. we used to say even the cohens without an h are weird, now it’s even the ones named richard are weird. i suppose the real superiority of the newspaper is you can wipe your ass with it and maybe get out of the bathroom sometime in this century?

  54. Years ago, Cohen wrote that his greatest fear was arthritis of the hands since he would then not be able to use a pen or manual typewriter. He said he’d be useless then and may as well kill himself. So I ask: Why are his hands not arthritic yet?

  55. [re=200087]jagorev[/re]: [re=200087]jagorev[/re]: ” I can’t think of a single newspaper that reports on substantive things on a regular basis anymore.”

    Excuse me, but I subscribe to the Christian Science Monitor because it does report on important things–and cannot sell enough of itself to save the daily print version.

    People don’t want substance. How many Americans give a fuck about the war in the Central Republic of Congo? Or know that Lula de Silva is the the most kick-ass president on the planet?

    If this nation hadn’t been founded by Puritans who passed their evil genes down through the ages, the precious New York Times would have a page 3.

  56. [re=200163]Servo[/re]: I don’t much want to be connected every moment, which means I’m just not that important because everyone know that really important people have those stupid looking bluetooth things on their ears all the time, wherever they go. Like people shopping at Walmart–fucking Walmart, talking on their stupid blue thingies the whole time. As if anyone shopping at Walmart is important. Wait, no, they ARE important because a tiny alien has attached itself to their ear.
    No one looks cool while wearing a Bluetooth. No one. Get it, America? NO ONE.

    The ultimate in the white trash look, should you want to emulate it someday, is to buzz around the Walmart on one of those stupid scooters– because you’re too fucking fat to walk–smiling a toothless smile while you talk to someone as stupid as you are via that thing on your ear. It always makes me want to jump on a scooter myself and turn the White Trash Palace into bumper cars. Oh, but I loathe my obligatory once a month trips to buy massive amounts of pet food.

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