But the master class should be reserved for magazine reporter Alex Kuczynski, who mines every situation for irony. Kuczynski kicked off the year with a profile of Time writer Joel Stein, whom she placed in the "openly ironic" tradition of Seinfeld, and ended it by taking The Nation's Caribbean cruise, where she found an irony under every bed. Last spring, she discovered the "terrible irony" that George had a better chance of living after John-John died, then blasted another Kennedy for the "glaring" irony of being a lib who takes soft money.
Now that the Gray Lady is a winking blonde, there have been whispers of dissent. Randy Cohen wrote this year that "it is possible to be too ironic," and Michiko Kakutani dismissed the idea that our culture suffers from a loss of irony as "debatable at best." So far, no one's pointed out how the trend has morphed into a cliché. But it may be too late. As we enter the new year, the Times has turned irony into tyranny.