In the ever competitive world of cable media, no one occupies a more rarefied perch than Barbara Starr. Each evening it is her responsibility to distill the most devastating events of our time into digestible morsels for the humble viewers at home. She is CNN’s ne plus ultra correspondent, bearing grave messages of death and destruction from the Pentagon’s somber briefing room. From the field, she handles four-star generals, wounded soldiers and disaffected DIA leakers with equal aplomb. And she does all of this with a Spartan, almost comforting, forthrightness.
Over the years, Ms. Starr’s meteoric rise through Washington’s inner ranks has raised eyebrows. She has simply broken too many significant stories. There have been rumors of very important intimate friends. Clearly her distinguished record does little to undermine the gossip. But neither her broadcast personality nor the harsh words of her competitors can truly explain the great enigma of this brilliant and fiery star.
For men of my generation, there is something inexplicably alluring about Barbara. Her eyes sparkle with a mischievous frisson as she recounts tales of mounting Arab insurgencies. She caresses those urgent briefings with a thrillingly handsome femininity. Her lushly painted lips wrap around the most complex foreign words effortlessly… “The Badakhshan Province…” “Minister Sergey Kuzhugetovich Shoygu…”
We are struck by Barbara’s sublime confidence night after night. She never doubts, never hesitates. She is steady and firm. Her words flow with clarity. Even when presenting the latest PR offensive on behalf of “The Agency,” she seems to do so knowingly, giving us a little wink that says there’s so much more to this story. When the TV screen is all hers, she commands it. For that minute — a minute that passes far too quickly in the minds of her faithful audience — her dulcet purr rules the airwaves and, with all due respect to James Earl Jones, becomes the voice of CNN.
From what well does Ms. Starr draw such strength? We may never know.
Intellectually vivacious women may be a rare breed on cable news stations, but Barbara is so much more. I would love to see her berate an underling. Not for any masochistic purpose, but solely for the reason that I think she would do so brilliantly. It would be a cross of Christian Bale and Woody Allen, but maybe that’s an underestimation. I suspect her anger, when and if it ever appears, is truly devastating. That’s the type of woman who makes me weak, who crushes my heart. I doubt I could survive long in her orbit. She would hurt me. Maybe that’s what she does to her unnamed sources. Loves them long enough to get what she needs, and then discards them like some budget-busting Lockheed tiltrotor. Maybe that’s the secret to her success. Do Starr’s ex-lovers bond in some sort of fraternal way? Do they revel in their brief moments in her irresistible gravity over single malts at the Hay-Adams?
Ms. Starr’s enviable career is not without its detractors, however. Some accuse her of being far too comfortable with the daily diet of warfare and terror served up by our top military brass. Others suggest she is a co-conspirator in their propaganda campaigns, making the froth of neocon aggression palatable to the masses. With ISIS and Russia and China and North Korea and Al Qaeda at our heels, we need to be reassured about American military might, no matter the truth.
The fact is we need to be afraid. We need to fear the world around us for it is always threatening the utter annihilation of the United States of America. Barbara’s unenviable job is to stare into the abyss our of military industrial complex. She does not flinch. In many ways, she is the military industrial complex personified. That’s the essence of her unmistakable musk of power. It’s a narcotic scent. Barbara, our goddess of war, our Enyo, our Bellona!
Glenn Greenwald and Chris Hayes can’t hold a candle to Barbara’s flaming soul. They tried. They came at her with outrage and bile. They attacked her integrity and with it, the very notion of American Empire. But Barbara’s fate has long been intertwined with the global destiny of this sacred nation. Our goddess, of course, triumphed against these foes. Who can stand in the way of progress? Her steely gaze throughout those tawdry tussles begs the question, what ignites this supernova of a woman? A Barolo in a corner booth at Bistro Bis, perhaps? The roar of an F-16 over the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan in the South China Sea on a Fourth of July morning? Maybe only her intimate sources deep within the bowels of the Pentagon are privy to such glorious secrets!