by John Walters

This, Apparently, Is An Outrage

The magazine InStyle is doing a profile of Dr. Anthony Fauci, and here he is poolside (wearing more clothing in his home than I have worn at mine in the past five months), and of course, the far-right went off on him. Meghan McCain, who like the president, is only where she is in life because of who her father was, described Fauci in the photo as “dressed like, you know, somebody in a Brad Pitt movie.”

Perhaps if that film is Benjamin Button and it’s early in the film?

Columnist Maureen Dowd, in Sunday’s New York Times, distilled the contrasts between Dr. Fauci and his nemesis, Donald J. Trump:

One is a champion of truth and facts. The other is a master of deceit and denial. One is highly disciplined, working 18-hour days. The other can’t be bothered to do his homework and golfs instead. One is driven by science and the public good. The other is a public menace, driven by greed and ego. One is a Washington institution. The other was sent here to destroy Washington institutions. One is incorruptible. The other corrupts. One is apolitical. The other politicizes everything he touches — toilets, windows, beans and, most fatally, masks.


I hadn’t heard that the Los Angeles Times had suspended sports columnist Arash Markazi until Friday afternoon when one of you commented on it. I quickly found this piece from Vice in order to glean more.

To be clear: I’m very fond of Arash and always was when we spoke regularly. Arash started at Sports Illustrated On Campus in the beginning of 2005, I believe, as a student intern. I was working there at the time. We quickly became good friends. Arash was funny, self-deprecating, self-aware and cherubic. Just a delight to be around. A human teddy bear.

At an early stage in our friendship I noticed Arash had a predilection for attending the type of galas and publicity-stoking events that I regularly avoided. A premiere, a club opening, a book release, anything that required you to call a public relations firm and have your name added: I hated those, Arash lived for them. I dubbed him, and he enjoyed the nickname, “Guest List Markazi.”

We always remained friendly. When I was in LA, I’d spend time with him. We spent a wonderful Saturday morning watching college football at Barney’s Beanery on Sunset once. I went to his parents’ home and met them. We even spent a couple of days in Las Vegas.

Arash was, and is, good company. And a good guy. I’ll be sure to phone him this week.

In the past few years I stopped following him on Twitter. I didn’t like what he was doing, from a professional perspective, and as I’ve already established myself as a bitter scold on the platform, I didn’t feel I needed to alienate yet another ex-SI colleague.

A year or two back he posted a photo of himself, Justin Verlander and Kate Upton at Minute Maid Park right after a big postseason win by the Houston Astros. I was disappointed. I tried to imagine anyone who was on the masthead at SI when I first arrived doing that.

I realize it’s a different era. Writers are trying to promote their own brand. Who knows, maybe someday they’ll earn the distinction of having Tony Reali award them a few points on Around The Horn, the ultimate display of “I’ve Made It!” in this present print epoch.

But I prefer to be old-fashioned. I wondered, seeing that photo, if Arash would write anything that night that would remain with me longer than the image in that photo. And isn’t that his job, after all? And how does his being chummy with Verlander and publicizing it help him do his job? If he’s doing his job, it doesn’t.

I don’t know what Arash did or didn’t do. I don’t know if the fact that there’s an audience, a big one, for writers and pundits who don’t always follow the rules of journalistic integrity (Clay Travis, Dave Portnoy, etc.) because they’d rather promote themselves, trumps my Puritan values.

Arash is a guy I like very much. I observed his meteoric rise the past few years with dubious silence. I was happy for him on a surface level. Deeper, though, I wondered how he was going to connect with staffers at the Los Angeles Times, the paper of Jim Murray (and Lou Grant!). These are serious journalists, Pulitzer Prize winners.

I’ll be a friend to Arash no matter what happens. And maybe some of the words above sound harsh. Or like tough love. But it’s the truth. And there’s no hiding from that.

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