Yesterday, media pundit and Vanity Fair columnist Michael Wolff embarrassed himself when he accused the famed and controversial NYU professor, writer, and scholar Tony Judt of fabricating an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times written by Judt and his 15-year-old son on the grounds that no 15-year-old could write like Judt’s son did. But why embarrassing? We laid it out already when the older Judt responded to us yesterday, but to reiterate:
(1) There are better targets to hit,
(2) It’d be taken more seriously if Wolff wasn’t already known for these kinds of stunts and incentivized to bring traffic to the ad-supported website where his accusation appeared, the Wolff-owned Newser (as opposed to the Judts, who have no such incentive with the Times) and
(3) The logic inherent in Wolff’s argument was flimsy, cynical, and manipulative, because it’s not the kind of thing that can necessarily ever be completely proven wrong, unless Wolff stood over him, watching him write.
But Tony Judt’s kid just came as close as he ever could to doing so by writing an op-ed for The Daily Beast, beautifully titled “Michael Wolff Is the Child.”
In it, Daniel Judt acknowledges that there’s no way he can actually prove Wolff wrong, but that:
In short, Mr. Wolff, I can’t get around one blockade that will prevent me from proving that I wrote my half of the article: your habit of parading your own opinions as fact, caused by your willingness to make up anything in order to get a few reads, comments, and tweets. Quite frankly, your generalization (one of many) that no 15-year-old is capable of writing as I did is false. I know many others my age who can write just as well, if not better; and while I am flattered that you think the text and the thoughts behind it exceed my age, they simply do not.
I’m no linguist, but “In short, Mr. Wolff,” noting Michael Wolff’s habits of logic as a “blockade” and using colloquialisms like “Quite frankly” and the twee belligerence of lines like “Just because I am 15 does not make it inconceivable that I can think for myself” certainly sound like the writing of both
(A) An exceptionally smart, precocious 15-year-old who also happens to be the son of one of the most well-regarded thinkers alive right now and
(B) That kid who wrote that thing in the New York Times on Sunday.
And of course, Michael Wolff could accuse Tony Judt or Tina Brown AND Barry Diller of PERSONALLY EDITING THIS KID’S PIECE or of BEING IN CAHOOTS WITH MURDOCH, but at this point, given the original article, Judt’s response, Judt’s kid response, and all other factors considered, the score’s something like three-all, and Wolff just needs to give it up and face the fact that, hey, the kid’s got skills.
This likely won’t be the case, so instead, Wolff can just comfort himself with the fact that at least one person “gets it.” There’s always one.
As for Daniel Judt, this should at least get him a date to the dance, or whatever the kids do these days. Granted, it doesn’t take a Harvard-level scholar to take down a Vanity Fair columnist — as evidenced here — but it should look decent on the college application, too.
Previously: “Bullshit, Michael Wolff.“
[Side Note: Infamous Internet ladyblog Jezebel just announced that Tavi Gevinson — the 14-year-old blogger who’s been treated like a direct decedent of Anna Wintour by some of fashion’s biggest names for her purportedly messianic fashion sensibilities — will be doing some guest blogging for them. Kids these days, right?]