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adjective /ˈsnärkē/
snarkier, comparative; snarkiest, superlative

  1. (of a person, words, or a mood) Sharply critical; cutting; snide

– Warning: This is a snarky blog post. 

The governor’s staff wrote a lengthy memo outlining the things they don’t like about an Albany TV anchor and blogger’s work:

A top aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo assembled a 35-page dossier on the work of an Albany political reporter considered hostile to his administration, highlighting any shred of criticism in a document that reflects the intense sensitivity of a governor on the brink of taking the national stage.

The document was provided to BuzzFeed by a New York City political operative who said he believes it reveals Cuomo’s “scary dark side.”


The file, composed of highlighted and annotated blog items by Elizabeth Benjamin, one of Albany’s dominant political reporters, paints a picture of an executive branch that’s particularly averse to hints that Cuomo could be, as is widely assumed, conidering running for president in 2016. The document focuses particularly on seven items it describes as “GENERALLY SNARKY…”

The dossier is disturbing on many levels. It bolsters the notion of Cuomo as a control freak. Trying to shut Benjamin up by going to her bosses is particularly offensive. It shows a lack of respect for the people tasked with holding the administration accountable and informing the public.

I was also bothered by the term “snarky.” Sarcasm, cynicism and biting criticism do have a place in journalism and analysis. There’s no rule that says reporters have to be sweet and nice to politicians. Furthermore, when “snarky” is applied to a woman, it brings to mind the “b” word. Snarky men are smart and witty, if not a little arrogant. Snarky women are…you know.

Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto is on a radio program right now saying it’s common for politicians to call reporters’ bosses to complain about stuff they don’t like. “It’s a standard course of business in Albany, Washington…everywhere…to characterize it as something else is a distortion.”

The general rule among reporters is when a person in power calls your boss, you’re doing a good job.

– There’s a meth boom in Central New York. It involves driving around with soda bottles filled with harsh chemicals.

– A student at Georgetown University says he was not prepared for college. He blames his teachers at a D.C. charter school who focused on rote memorization, not critical thinking and writing. He says they had low expectations for him. One thing not mentioned: the impact of the concentration of poor students. If this student had attended an economically-integrated high school, he would have been exposed to higher-level students before college.

Cybercrime is a myth. 

Buffalo is mad it was left off a Rust Belt Chic list.

8 Responses to What’s Wrong With a Little Snark?

  1. The problem with a journalist with snark? Journalists are supposed to be unbiased.

    You know… Journalistic ethics and standards?

    Professional “code of ethics” or the “canons of journalism”.

    Principles of — truthfulness, accuracy, OBJECTIVITY, impartiality, fairness and public accountability.

    • April 16, 2012 at 11:21 am Rachel responds:

      I don’t disagree, but politicians should not equate snark with bias. Pointing out flaws and problems in a sarcastic manner is not always bias. It’s a tool.

  2. Liz Benjamin — smart, perceptive, relentless, witty. Love her on ynn capitol tonight.i If Cuomo is disturbed by her analyses, he should sit down with her and discuss it, something he apparently has refused to do.

  3. April 16, 2012 at 12:45 pm Reggie Henderson responds:

    I love snark! Or in the long-form “satirically taking a bad idea out to it’s possible/probable conclusion” e.g. “Republicans are right in their criticism of the plan to require that everyone get health insurance, it would be better for hospitals to stop treating uninsured in their emergency rooms and let the dying pile up outside on the sidewalks”.

  4. April 16, 2012 at 12:50 pm Reggie Henderson responds:

    Also I think Maureen Dowd might occasionally by a little snarky 😉 But I bet she doesn’t care who calls her a “b” anymore than Adam Clymer cries about being called a “major-league-a**hole”.

  5. April 16, 2012 at 10:08 pm Lynn E responds:

    Cuomo is one of the snarliest people around so he must recognize snarks easily.

  6. They shouldn’t call it Capital Area Tonight. The title suggests that it’s an objective news program, it’s not, it’s more like a progressive editorial, which is fine, but it should be titled and promoted as such. Also I don’t like how she states things as facts, but provides no evidence. Like the time she said that cutting government spending during a recession is bad for the economy, and she concedes that this sounds like nonsense on the surface, but says it’s true and to just trust her….lol. I know this is false, but she could at least give the reasons why Keynesian’s support this. This is just one example off the top of my head of many. She’s not the educated, cool headed, objective journalist she tries to portray herself.

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