July 2, 2022

Authenticity Can’t Be Purchased by the Foot

PITTSBURGH — Years ago, there was an urban arcade called The Bank located here within a series of five old buildings that once housed financial offices in the Gilded Age. Connected internally by a savvy developer, 145,000 square feet of abandoned former grandeur was turned into a series of high-end shops, bars, a bookstore located in a former bank vault and a disco simply called The Library.

It was the late 1970s, and discos were everywhere. This one attempted to set itself apart with a little pretense, a proper dress code: jackets, ties and no jeans for the men; women mostly wore suits during the week; and the high-end fashion came out on the weekend.

The books that lined the place and the more sophisticated music selection were an attempt to imply this was a more intellectual crowd than the one attending the 2001 disco across the river, or the Rusty Scupper and Bahama Mama located in the lower level. Those were places for jeans, shot-and-beer combos and a blue-collar crowd wanting to dance the night away.

But no matter where you came from, people knew the pretense or lack thereof was just that: pretense. There was no trickery, because no one really thought the books that lined the elegant decor of The Library meant that the people there were any smarter than the people listening to music one floor lower at the Rusty Scupper.

Where you went was who you were, aspired to be or connected with. You went to these places to perhaps meet someone or hang out with friends, dance and mostly find a way to escape from your daily grind.

Whether you worked the line at Jones and Laughlin Steel on Second Avenue a couple of miles away or climbed your way up in the white-collar world of Mellon Bank or PPG Industries a couple of blocks away, you knew that when you entered The Library, those books were a prop and meant nothing.

Last week, a Politico Magazine story revealed that some of the intellectuals and/or experts we see on cable television or speaking at Zoom events have adopted using books as a prop, 2020 style. People are buying books by the foot — not for reading, just to make them look smart.

Even before the pandemic, there has been a service run by Maryland bookseller Wonder Book called Books by the Foot, which provides books for decor in offices, hotels and movie sets. But since the pandemic began, the service has seen a 20% surge in residential orders, presumably to accent the credibility experts are trying to project.

The story says the Wonder Books team rarely knows the real identity of the people whose home office they’ve staged, especially if the customer has some degree of fame or is trying to achieve fame, as they often order under a code name.

Back in the 1970s at The Library disco, when you walked in, you knew the books were a vanity prop. Maybe people had more street sense or common sense, but you knew exactly what the deal was and you were fine with it.

Today, you’d expect an expert to at least own a couple of shelves of books they have actually read. Certainly, these were the same people who poked fun of President Donald Trump after MSNBC’s Chris Hayes tweeted a photo showing Trump had staged his own books in the old State Department library right after he was inaugurated.

And it’s not just Joe Public they are trying to impress; they are also looking for the elusive perfect-10 rating from former Bill Clinton staffer Claude Taylor’s Room Rater — a Twitter account that screenshots celebrities, politicians and talking heads on Zoom calls or cable TV interviews and rates their backdrops.

I’ve seen many acquaintances proudly tweet anytime they’ve earned a solid ranking from Room Rating — and, perhaps more importantly, thankfully avoided a snarky ranking sent their way if they somehow failed to provide a good backdrop. I now realize it is just another one of those useless status symbols that people who aren’t famous find perplexing.

There is something off about having someone else curate your bookshelf. It is like having someone else curate your credibility or personality. It is amusing, tragic, shallow — and, honestly, more than a little bit sad.

There is also something off about having someone rate or judge your home or office on social media.

So why is book staging a thing in Washington? Because people want to be seen, noticed and admired for their accessories, whether it is carefully curated books or a rented or borrowed piece of art — even if those books are never opened or that piece of art is never studied or admired.

While many people may believe this is just a silly story, others will look at it as just another display of a lack of authenticity from people in Washington who often claim to know more than we do.

I personally prefer to see someone on Zoom or cable news talk about what they know and focus on their words or their stories, rather than judging whether their lighting is just right or they are reading the right books. In fact, the ones who really capture my attention traditionally have imperfect backgrounds or show a child wandering into the room.

At least at that moment, we know that the speakers may be imperfect, but they aren’t pretending to be something they’re not — and that’s a measure of authenticity you cannot buy by the foot.

Salena Zito is a CNN political analyst, and a staff reporter and columnist for the Washington Examiner. She reaches the Everyman and Everywoman through shoe-leather journalism, traveling from Main Street to the beltway and all places in between. To find out more about Salena and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.


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Gary m (@guest_1098424)
1 year ago

Now is, the time to escape the CNN prison, and get to OANN on ATT 208 or NewsMAX on ATT 220 and safety and freedom and fresh air. Must act quickly before it is to late, and you are brainwashed into believing their nonsense and the constant lies that they spew all day long. It must take a lot of stamina to be able to lie like that, and the endurance to be able to keep coming up with all of this crap all day long. “incredible”. and it is really unbelievably stupid. Run to OANN on ATT 208 or NewsMAX on ATT 220 right a way to save your freedom of speech and thought and beliefs and get some fresh air and honest reporting. It is essential that you do so right now, save your sanity.

Gary m (@guest_1098427)
1 year ago

The Democrats have been rigging elections for years that is how they got a majority in the house and have been keeping it. That is why they want Trump out, they know that he knows. They have been dealing with communist governments for decades, and do not care about the people of this country, only themselves, so we they people are going to have to take control back from the government. The purpose of the lock downs is to keep the people from organizing any armed resistance, that is why we need to prepare before they can take our guns. We will need to take action before they do. This congress does not represent the people, the house and rhinos in the senate have been working with communist governments to take control of the country. We must stop the lock downs get back to work, and put in a new government, by the people, for the people. Amend the constitution with term limits, no immunity for lawmakers, eliminate lobbies having direct access to lawmakers, no gifts, no gratuities ( bribes ) for any government employee or official ( elected or appointed ).

Gary m (@guest_1098429)
1 year ago

The main part of the Supreme Court’s job is OVERSIGHT, and if someone or some state is violating the constitution, then the court should step in, whether or not there is a complaint or brief filed in a lower court or the high court directly. If the court is not doing this, then the court is not doing the due diligence it is suppose to do, to protect the constitution. And if the court is not going to do its job, then it is up to we the people to do the job, and if we have to do the job then we just as well fire the court, we are the only ones that can. It makes no difference if a judge is conservative or liberal if the judge does not follow the constitution. The constitution was not put there to protect the administration, the legislature, or the court, it was put there to protect we the people, from the government period, by putting in guide lines for the government to follow. When the government does not want to follow, then we the people have the right and the power to change or remove the government. I think that the court gets so tongue tied with the literal meaning of the law that it forgets what the most important part of its job is. OVERSIGHT.

Since officials in a number of states have taken it upon themselves to make laws with out the legislative bodies in those states, that the constitution gives the legislative bodies the power to do. They are ignoring the constitution, and need to be reigned in. It is past time for the SCROTUS to do its due diligence, and step in, if the SCROTUS does not wish to do so, then we the people will have to do the job of the court, and we will not need the court.
Liberals think that they can change the laws just by wishing it, and that is wrong. That is the way kings, queens, tyrants, and dictators rule. and that is why our forefathers wrote the constitution, to keep the corrupt from getting in power in government. That is why we have come to the point of needing to set term limits and to remove immunity that protects those that would try to abuse their position by creating greater transparency in the government.

Just like they did with the Hunter Biden scandal, the fake news and the media, are covering up what states are doing to hide the evidence. It is not only in the so-called battle ground states. The governors and judges, and election officials in these states, are violating the law and the constitution of the United States, by making laws illegally, and suppressing the evidence, by refusing to allow ballots, and machines to be investigated. As much as I hate to say this the Supreme Court is condoning this behavior, by not enforcing the constitution. This is their job, to protect the constitution by enforcing it. The Supreme Courts job of oversight does not end because a case is not filed in a lower court. There is nothing in the constitution that says the Supreme Court it’s self cannot call on the DOJ or Superior Court to take action on such matters, and for it not to do so is negligence. As I have said before and will repeat.
The constitution was not put there to protect the administration, the legislature, or the court, it was put there to protect we the people, from the government, by putting in guide lines for the government to follow.


U.S. Code Section 242 of Title 18, Deprivation of rights under color of law, makes it a crime for a person acting under color of any law to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.
For the purpose of Section 242, acts under “color of law” include acts not only done by federal, state, or local officials within the their lawful authority, but also acts done beyond the bounds of that official’s lawful authority, if the acts are done while the official is purporting to or pretending to act in the performance of his/her official duties.

Some states have gotten the idea that they can just change laws because they want to. However that is not the case, when a state becomes a state they sign on to the constitution and the bill of rights, and all of the laws contained with in the constitution. These are the over riding laws of the land, and apply to all states, and can not be just dismissed out of hand by any state governor, state legislature, or any state official, or local officials. It does not work that way. The constitution and the bill of rights can not be changed by any government body be it federal state or local. Changes to the constitution and the bill of rights can only be made by we the people. Not with E.O. or legislation by any governing body, or any whim of someone on the supreme court. This is to keep government from usurping the power of the people.

The supreme Court is “appointed” to oversee the implementation of the constitution, and the protection of the constitution, by enforcing the constitution.
Lately it would seem that the Supreme Court is neglecting its role of oversight, and enforcement. Which means it is not protecting the constitution.

Gary m (@guest_1098470)
Reply to  Gary m
1 year ago

The Supreme Court is being negligent in its duty of oversight, of a number of states that have violated the constitution, by letting officials make laws illegally, instead of the legislatures in those states. This falls squarely in the scope of the Supreme Court. Whether or not any complaint has been filed in any other court or the Supreme Court Directly. This is the job of the Supreme Court in its roll of oversight, in the protection of the constitution. I am sorely disappointed by the Supreme Courts actions or lack there of, to do what is necessary to protect the constitution and thereby the country and the people. If the Supreme Court is not going to do its job maybe we don’t need it. Why pay for what we don’t need.

Gary m (@guest_1098433)
1 year ago

Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg and Brian Stelters and George Soros, and Mike Bloomberg and their freedom of speech is the biggest threat to democracy. All they do is spew vile hate all day long, they think that caring about another is a criminal act. I have to wonder if they care about their mothers, I kind of doubt it. Anyone that spews that kind of hate can’t really care about anybody, not even their mothers. Jesus would be horrified to learn of this. He would be horrified to know that after making their fortunes off of this country, they have turned on it.

I would not shoot them, I would put them in the desert with one gallon of water apiece. Then when the water get low they will start killing each other for a drink. When the last one runs out of water he/she will die slowly of thirst. a fitting end for a traitor. Would save a lot of tax money by not having to execute them. The buzzards will eat the remains. Nice clean job, did not have to bury.

Gary m (@guest_1098436)
1 year ago

I hear that the regular dems want to start a new party. With out the radical leftists. They want a democratic party that they recognize. They don’t like all of this social BS that the communists are trying to shove down their throat. They think that the communists should have started their own party instead of trying to hi-jack theirs. They think people like AOC and the squids are not democrats they are commies that have use the democrat party to conceal what their real agenda is, and get democrats to support them before they know what they are. Now the democrats must reorganize a new party, and leave the radicals to rot on the vine.

Patty (@guest_1098683)
1 year ago

If the demonrats take over our government, our country as we knew it is gone! The devil has truly taken over our governing body, we have NO say in how we are to be governed any more! Piglosi is putting all her insane ideas in as “ law”, and stifled the republicans rights to be heard or have a say! This is outrageous! She has effectively damned our country to communist control, but—- she is not done yet, she is just getting started! She MUST be stopped before she makes any more of her nefarious “ rules” that have NO place in a free republic! If joebama and the califonia ho succeed in stealing this election, we are done for as a free country! It won’t matter in four years, they will destroy us in less than one! Mad max is in the horizon! Beware of what is coming! God save us!

Billy Richard Wilson (@guest_1098731)
1 year ago

The proof is there now the Supreme Court needs to throw out this election as fraufulent . Do not let them use fraud to win a election or you may as well turn us into a communist nation so we can revolt.

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