Dartblog Just Went Off the Green-Tinted Deep End

A confession: When Obama nominated Jim Yong Kim to manage the World Bank, we immediately hopped over to Dartmouth’s popular gossip sheet, Dartblog.com. If you’re not familiar with Dartblog (if not, you probably don’t go to Dartmouth, but that’s okay), it’s difficult to properly describe. It’s peerless* not just in the Ivy League, but in all of higher education. It’s as if IvyGate were to start taking itself seriously—like, really, really seriously—and then focus entirely on one school. It’s vindictive, petty, and somehow earnest, but sucked dry of anything resembling fun or humor or self-awareness. It’s an ongoing reality show that we can’t peel our eyes away from.

The star of this show is Dartblog’s only regular writer: Joe Asch ’79. We’ve written enough about Asch in the past, but if you’re not acquainted with him, just go over to the website, and you’ll get a feel for his grudges. Which is crucial, because Dartblog consists almost entirely of Asch’s grudges. That’s why we hurried to refresh Dartblog after we heard word of Kim’s nomination: Asch hates—hates, hates, hates, hates, hates, hates, hates—Jim Yong Kim. He hates him so much that when Politico announced Kim’s nomination, Asch sincerely believed it was a hoax. You could almost taste his disgust—the effect was that potent.

Other things Asch hates include: Dartmouth’s administration, Dartmouth’s hourly workers, and—incredibly—The Dartmouth.* Whatever the subject, it’s Asch’s signature contempt—unmitigated, unmeasured—that makes Dartblog so entertaining to read.

But two of Dartblog’s recent emissions are beginning to worry us—and they should worry you, too.

In this morning’s first Dartblog post, Asch publishes an email he received from a Dartmouth staffer, which email of course contains every possible suggestion of the douche-baggery and self-importance indigenous to the Ivy League’s daily papers. In this missive, we find the D’s executive editor reminding the paper’s opinion columnists not to talk to reporters. With this email Asch declares:

It is becoming ever more obvious that the College’s paper of record is little more than an extension of the Office of Public Affairs. How sad.

Several months ago, The D’s staff was told not to read Dartblog, nor to speak to nor respond to communications from your humble servant. As I said, quite curious.

As noted above, this is Asch’s method. It’s really entertaining, honestly! The august “It is becoming ever more…”; the faux-meek “How sad”; the reference to the paper’s staff being passively told (by whom?) not to read Dartblog—all of these tiny details color in the fundamental appeal of Joe Asch. He’s the guy who dares to take things seriously—or pretends to.

Now take a look at Asch’s next immediate post, which consists of this text and a comic lifted from The Dartmouth’s website:

While The D’s news reporting glides over the sour campus mood at President Kim’s opportunistic departure, student columnists Don Casler and Peter Blair, and talented cartoonist Steve Elliott (below), don’t hesitate to criticize Jim Kim’s weak tenure as the College’s leader and the unseemliness of his hasty exit.

Here’s where things break down: the last post—to which “While the D’s…” refers—did not concern news reporting. The email it contained was addressed to the paper’s opinion writers. Bear in the mind that Asch is making consecutive remarks which openly contradict each other on several levels. First, he calls The Dartmouth the lap-dog of the College’s administration, and then—a breath later—claims that only the paper’s news reporters deserve such a remark. That doesn’t make sense. First, the leaked email concerns “columnists who express an opinion” and then—later—it also applies to “news reporting.” No and no. No!

None of that makes sense. At the same time, it’s obvious why Asch permits himself such liberty. There’s really no use in giving Jim Yong Kim a single inch. The entire conceit of Dartblog is that its author cannot be so rational as to consider a side other than his own. This was vividly demonstrated when Asch became the champion of a coke-snorting, witness-intimidating, chair-hurling 9/11 truther named Andrew Lohse. Lohse’s famous column made Kim look bad, so Asch liked him—really, really liked him—to the point of embarrassment.

Which was fine, in fact; Lohse’s apprenticeship made sense. Asch was being consistent. But we want to know: should we or should we not hate The Dartmouth? It’s not so clear. What about the various members of Dartmouth’s administration? Same thing: Who, exactly, should we scoff at? Who knows? Because if Asch can’t quite decide, how will we?

12 Responses to “Dartblog Just Went Off the Green-Tinted Deep End”

  1. Joseph Asch '79 Says:

    Mr. Trotter fails to capture the distinction between a newspaper’s editorial line and the direction of its reporting, and the opinions of individual columnists. A newspaper like the NY Times can be derided for its consistently left-of-center political allegiances even though David Brooks and Ross Douthat write on its Opinion page. So it is with The Dartmouth.

  2. Poler Says:

    Joe.  Please.  Stop.  You’re not only embarrassing yourself through these cringe-worthy demonstrations of your petty, arid inner life; you’re confirming  every negative stereotype of Dartmouth men.

  3. SamsonOccam Says:

     Yeah Joe, enough already. Listen to Poler. We know you got screwed by the Alumni Assoc and the Board when you tried to run for trustee, but enough, life ain’t fair-get over it and stop making an ass of yourself. I was outraged at the way you were treated but now I’m  thinking they had the right idea in doing whatever was necessary to keep you off the Board. Every good point you raise about class size, wage rates for unskilled employees, the dorm situation, etc., is always matched with a cheap, nasty, gutless ad hominem attack on some member of the College administration. I’m sure in your career you have come across employees who are smart guys (gals) but have a  selfish obtuseness that makes everyone around them less effective. Look in the mirror, Joe. 

  4. D13 Says:

    It’s The Dartmouth, not The Daily Dartmouth. Really, the author couldn’t take one second to fact check before posting this article?

  5. J.K. Trotter Says:

    Updated.

    I originally thought that was its original name, but after digging around it looks like “Daily” was only part of its nickname:

    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~library/rauner/archives/oral_history/worldwar2/history.html

    … Also: The Dartmouth is a terrible name for a newspaper. (The Yale? The Brown?)

  6. Come on Says:

    “most unique”

  7. Jesus Says:

     “by who”

  8. J.K. Trotter Says:

    Legitimate. Fixed. 

    As for “most unique”: see above. There, I made it pretty!

    Also, if you enjoy copy-editing heathens like me, email us: ivygate@gmail.com (We’re always looking.)

  9. Overstock Coupon Code Says:

    It appears you circulation isn’t as good, which could be because on how long the pump is allowed to run. 

  10. Libby Says:

    >
     the reference to the paper’s staff being passively told (by whom?) not to read Dartblog

    Actually, this is true.  Students who join The D are also expressly “suggested” to not join any other publication group on campus.  Working for The D is like joining the most pretentious, self-entitled cult you can think of.

  11. journalist Says:

     Most newspapers have similar editorial policies. It’s pretty standard in the industry. If you’re not a freelancer — if you are a STAFF member of a publication — it’s typical that you’re not allowed to write for other publications.

  12. Missy James '86 Says:

    Why do you continue your constant assault on graduate students at D? Do you aim to tarnish the reputation of our beloved institution? Like it or not, D graduate students go into the world with Dartmouth diplomas. The general public does not take into account that the students merely earned a graduate degree. If we must have graduate studies, and it seems from recent history that we must in order to remain competitive in the league, I suggest you change tack. The least we can do to preserve the reputation of Dartmouth College is not to seek to destroy the credibility of our institution. Do as you will, but do not try to pretend fidelity to Dartmouth in the process. 

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