Newsbreaks of the Century Award: Jeffrey Toobin

One of the traditions at The New Yorker that has continued unabated by tables of contents, photographs, bylined Talks of the Town, and other heady incursions of late-20th-century magazining is the "newsbreak" -- the wry, lightly condescending filler blurbs at the tail end of select New Yorker stories in which the magazine's copy-editing staff, having plowed through its 3,000-word feature for the afternoon and availed of no better way to entertain itself, takes to excerpting the copy-editing malapropisms of lesser publications. E.B. White once said, "I still regard newsbreaks as the thing I came to earth for." White even edited a book-length collection of newsbreaks; in later years, the tradition spawned an entire genre of shitty late-night comedy bits (see "Jaywalking").

The newsbreak is such a New Yorker hallmark that, when we came across page 63 of frequent New Yorker contributor Jeffrey Toobin's Supreme Court tome The Nine, we wondered whether Toobin hadn't edited in a newsbreak just to get another mention of the book wedged into his magazine's hallowed pages. If so, it would be the meta-est newsbreak of all time: a New Yorker writer caught in a malaprop involving The New Yorker. (Remember, all, that italics are reserved for publication names, albums, and the titles of creative works.) In the style, then, of a New Yorker newsbreak, we give you the Newsbreak of the Century:


"[In picking a list of potential Supreme Court nominees] the names of several nonjudges came up, but it quickly became clear that [Bill] Clinton was most interested in one of them -- Mario Cuomo, then governor of New York.

Clinton and Cuomo had a complicated relationship. Clinton admired The New Yorker's way with words but found his indecisiveness maddening."

We never liked him either, Bill.

For all you bookworms, Toobin discusses The Nine on Wednesday evening at the Brattle Theater, in conversation with local lega-eagle Alan Dershowitz. Tickets available through Harvard Book Store.

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