I know it's a mistake to take anything in The New York Times Sunday Styles section too seriously, but Philip Galanes's "interview" with Kobe Bryant and Arianna Huffington is a disgrace. Most of their conversation is merely clichéd and dull, with Galanes occasionally interjecting things like, "This may sound crazy, but the more I researched you, the more similarities I found." However, Galanes's talents extend beyond his obsequiousness.
To wit: here is Galanes on the 2003 sexual assault charges against Bryant, which were settled out of court. (Bryant admitted, of the interaction with his 19-year-old accuser, "Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.")
You’re both chugging along, very successfully, then comes 2003: nasty speed bumps. Arianna runs a disastrous campaign for governor of California. Kobe is accused of sexual assault, which is never prosecuted. I thought you were both toast. But you came back even bigger than before. The Huffington Post is a huge global enterprise. Kobe sets scoring records, wins more titles, becomes a team leader. Did it take a crisis to make you greater?
It isn't just that Galanes talks like a third-rate motivational speaker. That would be annoying enough. It's that he brings up an alleged sexual assault (a "nasty speed bump") merely as a vehicle for discussing Kobe's personal growth, as if it's a chapter in one of Huffington's "inspirational" books. (You have to almost admire Galanes's fawning "but you came back even bigger than before.")
The rest of the interview, during the course of which Arianna touches upon her deep committment to feminism and equality, is unintentionally amusing. Fine. But if The New York Times wants to broach serious issues, it should have real journalists do so.