Wolff on the war

Execellent writing on war frenzy in the American media from Michael Wolff in The Guardian.

‘The story now is about the war as a fighting-man event, not a political event. It’s 90% a Pentagon story. No context, just blow by blow. The excitement is about going along, about having access, wearing war clothes, eating war food – a desire, finally, to be part of the scene, to be an “embed”, to hang out in Doha at the $225,000 briefing stage. It’s all spectacle. The war is not just a ratings gift, but a personal, professional plum.’

In the distant past (starting in 1994), Wolff played the dot.com game with a clever but ultimately doomed media play called NetGuide. I met Michael a couple of times. Once in the mid-nineties in a dark corridor at one of those terrifying Venture Capital smack-downs – this one was in New York – where you join a queue of bushy-tailed entrepreneurs to present your idea to a roomful of half-asleep vultures and they give you the metaphorical (sometimes literal) thumbs-up or -down in a ‘break-out room’ afterwards.

Wolff was on a roll. He was already funded and he had the untouchable Greek God look of a nearly-billionaire. The next time I met him was several years later in London. His business had been brought low by the usual combination of hubris, opportunism and venality (and members of the Maxwell family). He’d written an excellent book about the experience (Burn Rate) that turned out to mark the beginning of the end for the whole sorry dot.com adventure and he’d returned to the (presumably) saner world of New York journalism, from which he now despatches this kind of sanity on a regular basis.

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