Get your vomit bags ready. In tomorrow's NYT Robin Pogrebin delivers a slobbering wet kiss to the ass of Lisa Falcone, whose husband's firm owns 20 percent of the NYT Company.
It's sad but not surprising to see the NYT abandon its standards in publishing a sub-par puff piece on the fromt page of tomorrow's Arts section about Lisa Maria Falcone, whose husband, Philip, runs Harbinger Capital, a private investment firm that helps pay the salaries of Pogrebin, her editors and everyone else involved in ensuring this sweet piece of publicity.
The hook is, one could (and the NYT will) argue, legitimate. Falcone and her husband just did a very good deed -- they've pledged $10 million to the city's latest urban jewel, The High Line elevated walkway on the far West Side.
Pogrebin seemed at a loss in finding the proper tone for her tricky assignment. At some moments she tried to appear hard-hitting, by suggesting that Lisa Falcone was reluctant to talk about her marriage for vague reasons; but then she revealed that it was only because the couple had been through "a difficult time" in the early to mid-1990s.
But those moments of pseudo-toughness gave way to the puffery that tends to be Pogrebin's default position, and certainly seemed fitting for a profile of the wife of a top NYT investor:
Otherwise she seemed surprisingly unguarded. She talks about the causes she cares about with the kind of wide-eyed idealism that makes you wonder how a New Yorker toughened by her share of adversity can seem so cheery. “They say people who have had a hard childhood are optimistic,” she said.
Ms. Falcone seems to have a quirky, independent streak. She collects crosses, large glittering examples of which she usually wears around her neck, and does her own hair and makeup. She pairs her couture clothing with thrift shop finds — at this interview, she wore a second-hand fur-lined sweater over a Lanvin dress.
Pogrebin goes on to "report" that Lisa Falcone wears socks with Hermes shoes, because she's "too busy for a pedicure." She details Falcone's impoverished childhood craving culture, but denied it because her soap opera-addicted mother "refused to sign the permission slips that came home for school art trips."
But those days are over. Falcone is on the board of the New York City Ballet, where Peter Martins tells Pogrebin she has brought "a breath of fresh air."
But skeptical reporter Pogrebin's not buying that. "To be sure, she writes, "City Ballet is interested in Ms. Falcone primarily for her money, and Ms. Falcone is presumably at least partly interested in causes like City Ballet for their cachet." Yes, presumably.
In what may be a first, the story has been posted online with a correction already attached -- before the print edition of the paper has even reached newsstands and doorsteps:
An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect age for Philip A. Falcone. He is 46, not 45.
Whoops! Never a good idea to get an owner's age wrong.
"Our journalism has never been more glorious."
--Jill Abramson, managing editor, The New York Times, January 7, 2009