Gawker earned laugh of the week for noting, in its post on the auction of Johnny Rotten’s* wine collection, that his widow denied any link between his liquidity and his legendary expense account and then “winked so hard her eye fell out.” For all the fury directed at the banksters by journalists who missed the financial story of the decade, this last bellow of newspapering extravagance is a reminder of what really went wrong with the profession. Even the most influential reporter on my first big-city paper in 1976 did not have two fancy homes, let alone “a cottage in the Midlands.” And certainly it would have struck his overseers as unseemly if he palled around with the people he covered. By contrast, all the poor wage-and-stock slaves on the desk at the Times seemed proud that Betsey’s “big guy” had his own cost center. So much for “without fear or favor.”
*I’m sure I’ve told this before, but for those who need a decoder ring: He got his nickname the morning I came in to work during a political convention and mentioned I had seen Johnny Rotten was there. To which my boss responded: “Of course he is.” And then realized I was talking about the performer, not our copy editor-kicking colleague. . .