Edited to take out some weird verbiage (not mine, okay?)
My friend and colleague, the Star's TV critic Vinay Menon, made the Huffington Post's Eat the Press today for using ''douchebag" in the paper to describe talking bowtie Tucker Carlson's impending appearance on ABC's Dancing with the Stars. Apparently we're the first mainstream paper ever to publish the word as a descriptive! This is what Vinay wrote:
You almost feel sorry for the guy. I mean, scrambling up the fame ladder in the footsteps of a former Playboy Playmate or The Guy Who Played J. Peterman on Seinfeld?
So, so sad.
During those Crossfire years on CNN, Carlson seemed to be on the verge of a powerhouse career. Sure, he often came across as just another smug douchebag in the beltway. But, hell, he was perched beside Robert Novak, and next to that crabby ideologue even Lou Dobbs would seem boyishly charming.
Menon gets props for using the word without quotes. Meanwhile I am credited with using it before him, back in 2004 after Jon Stewart appeared (video) on CNN's now-defunct Crossfire. Notes Huff Post ETP editor and native Canadian, Rachel Sklar:
In this case, however, Zerbisias was quoting directly, noting that Stewart had affectionately nicknamed Robert Novak "Douchebag For Liberty." Which technically qualifies as "news" as opposed to "wanton and gratuitous use of offensive terms in a family newspaper."
Was it Canada? Was my homeland secretly a bastion of lax moral newspaper standards and general newsroom debauchery? I turned to The Globe & Mail, that bastion of Canadian journalism: one match, also coincidentally in reference to Jon Stewart (this time in a review for "America: The Book" and the term is also used to describe Bob Novak). Next came the venerable National Post (or, venerable-ish after that whole Iran-badges-on-clothes thing) — a search in Canada.com yielded no usage of "douchebag" (and presumably, less-than-exacting reporting on Jon Stewart).
I turned to the U.S. papers: The New York Times, no ("Your search for douchebag in all fields returned 0 results"); The Washington Post, no; The Chicago Tribune, no ("No articles found on search for: douchebag"); and, somewhat surprisingly, the Los Angeles Times, no (you'd figure aggrieved Hollywood types would go a little blue now and again).
Well then, I would say that our work is done here, wouldn't you?
But Sklar does not entirely approve.
With his column today, Menon has taken it a step further and has himself employed the term as a slur, becoming the first journalist to do so in a mainstream publication, and his editors the first to let it slide.
Given the term's typically profane nature and it's not-unmisogynistic connotation, I find it disappointing that Menon chose to use the word, and that the Toronto Star chose to publish it.
True enough. The unisex enema-bag would have been less sexist.