“Meritocracy” and the Geico Gecko

Chelsea ClintonI have nothing against Chelsea Clinton. In fact, when she was growing up, I felt a bit sorry for her. The modern right-wing media echo chamber had only just come of age and its hatred of the Clintons went all the way down to the young girl. As I remember it, Rush Limbaugh seemed to take some relish in pontificating about her looks. That’s nothing especially surprising from that well known misogynist, but Clinton was only a young teen at the time—and one who her parents seemed to take care to keep out of the spotlight. So I’m inclined to like her.

But I was less than thrilled when she was hired by NBC News two and a half years ago. It was an especially ironic choice given that her mother had written a syndicated column when the younger Clinton went off to Stanford University (Of course!) asking that journalists leave her alone. But instead of using her history degree to do something useful like write books or teach people or even do original research, she decided to be on air “talent” for Brian Williams’ pathetic Rock Center where she did “serious” reporting like this interview with the Geico gecko:

Now friends, don’t get me wrong. I like fun. But this is a pathetic excuse for what someone who had literally every advantage in life has decided to do with her life. And now, according to Politico, we learn that for the first two years of her time interviewing animated corporate spokes-characters, she was paid $600,000 per year. They recently changed it to a month-to-month contract so I’m gonna guess $50,000 per month. Or is that too low? After all, she doesn’t have the job security that she had before.

Ain’t it great to live in a meritocracy?! Remember when she graduated from Stanford with honors and how that was a big story? Is it genetics? She has two smart parents after all! Or could it have something to do with the fact that she had every advantage growing up; she had the best teachers; and in college, she didn’t have to work one or two jobs?

Of course, NBC News doesn’t come out of this looking rosy either. Remember when they hired Jenna Bush for the Today show? But it is sad that America has an aristocracy that runs around telling us that we don’t have an aristocracy. You can do anything you set your mind to—if your father was President of the United States. And what do you set your mind to? Interview an animated gecko.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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