TAPPED Archive | The American Prospect: have a lot of friends who spent a great deal of money, and went into a lot of debt, to learn how to be professional broadcast journalists. They are now struggling to find work in a profession that is -- to put it bluntly -- contracting. So when I first heard that Jenna Bush Hager, the former President's daughter, was getting a job with The Today Show, I wondered what her qualifications were.
Hager, a 27-year-old teacher in Baltimore, said she has always wanted to be a teacher and a writer, and has already authored two books. But she was intrigued by the idea of getting into television when Bell contacted her.
Oh. She "always wanted to be a teacher," and was "intrigued" by television, so I guess that qualifies her to be an education reporter over all those journalists with actual experience and education who are struggling to find jobs.
As Glenn Greenwald writes, there's unlikely to be any outrage on the right over Hager getting a job she's manifestly unqualified for simply because she's the former President's daughter, despite right-wing affectations toward "meritocracy." There's something revealing here about the right's attitude towards those who succeed despite not being privileged -- the only way they can make sense of someone like Sonia Sotomayor rising to excellence from modest beginnings is through "preferential treatment," because what does it say about their own privilege, intelligence, or ability if that's not the case?
Last week, Greg Mankiw wrote a post casually asserting that people with "good genes" make lots of money and pass their intelligence off to their kids who then get high SAT scores. John Sides and Brad DeLong demolished Mankiw's argument, but I think Mankiw's assumption is informative here: The right doesn't mind privilege being retained, by whatever means, within those groups that already have it, because it proves their theories about meritocracy. But when someone like Sonia Sotomayor goes from the South Bronx to Princeton valedictorian to the Supreme Court, it forces the question of how much people of privilege depend on their circumstances -- their financial and social advantages -- to succeed rather than their ability or intelligence. That's uncomfortable for some people to think about, and it's part of why Sonia Sotomayor provokes outrage over "merit," while glaring examples of preferential treatment for the privileged do not.