New York Times Andrew Ross Sorkin online media mogul and business page columnist has found an unlikely ally.
As you may already know, Sorkin has aroused the ire of some of his fellow New York Times denizens. A few of them believe he lifted a story from a team of investigative reporters at the Times for his book. Some think that Sorkin isn’t quite really a reporter at all–just a kid with good access to powerful old men. Others seem to think that Sorkin has been shown a kind of favoritism by top Times editors. His high salary–upwards of $250,000–and prominence in media outlets like CNBC probably aren’t endearing him to anyone either.
The brouhaha began when the New York Post‘s Keith Kelly wrote about allegations that Sorkin wasn’t a “team player” and had borrowed from the reporting of two other Times reports. The New York media gossip site Gawker launched its own investigation into Sorkin, which attributed most of the anti-Sorkin accusations to a generational divide at the Times. Then Gabriel Sherman dropped his huge New York Magazine smart bomb on the subject. Finally–or, at least, lately–John Cook at Gawker pointed out that Sorkin’s high salary of $250,000 plus a likely pageview performance bonus was bound to cause ill will in an age of media layoffs.
Until now, Sorkin hasn’t had many defenders through all this. He’s got supporters in the Times newsroom, of course. Top writers such as Joe Nocera and executive editor Bill Keller have spoken up in Sorkin’s defence. David Carr is said to be pro-Sorkin. And reporters who work closely with Andrew also support him. But mostly Sorkin has been left to mount his own defence.
Last night, Sorkin found himself being defended by Julia Allison. If you aren’t familiar with Alison, you can read this profile of her in Wired magazine. (That’s her, on the left of that picture with Nouriel Roubini.) Mostly, she’s famous on the internet for being famous on the internet. As Wired put it, she achieved fame by harnessing her “insatiable need for attention and a healthy helping of Web savvy.” With her fame, however, came an almost relentless mockery of almost everything she did from countless bloggers, including those at Gawker (arguably the website most responsible for propelling her to internet stardom).
“Oh John, shut the f up. Sorkin’s brilliant and talented – and beyond that, super sweet. God forbid he be paid what he’s worth,” Allison wrote in a comment on Gawker. (The “John” she addresses is Gawker writer John Cook.)
Why did Allison decide to publicly declare herself on the side of Team Andrew? We have two competing theories.The simplest is just that Allison saw a public controversy on the internet and couldn’t resist joining it. Perhaps she has felt that her fame has notably diminished in recent months and thought that taking sides in this fight would draw the spotlight back toward her.
Our more complex theory of Allison’s support for Sorkin is based on the idea that when it comes to Allison, everything is ultimately read through the lens of her own self-perception. So when she saw the anger being directed at Sorkin, it may have reminded her of the antagonism many bloggers have expressed toward her. She may very well percieve Sorkin as a version of how she sees herself: a well-known internet entrepreneur beset by critics jealous of his sucess.
Ironically, some of Sokrin’s critics probably agree. Kind of.
To them, Sorkin is something of a Warholian celebrity reporter: a reporter who is famous for being a famous reporter. His success, in their eyes, is at least partly attributable to his “insatiable need for attention and a healthy helping of Web savvy.” In short, they think Sorkin is the Julia Allison of the New York Times.