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May 20, 2005

TNR's Publisher: MSM "complacent, self-righteous, and hopelessly in love with itself"

Ohhh, snap!:

The journalistic establishment is circling the wagons, of course. Journalists usually blame themselves last and forgive themselves first. They are taking special umbrage at the White House's indignation about Newsweek's iniquity and insisting that this is the pot calling the kettle anti-Muslim. It is certainly true that the Bush administration, at Guantánamo and at Abu Ghraib, is responsible for a good deal of anti-Americanism in the Muslim world (see Noah Feldman, "Ugly Americans," page 23). The Bush administration is not perfectly qualified to give lessons in transparency. But, if Scott McClellan should not be allowed to hide behind Michael Isikoff, neither should Michael Isikoff be allowed to hide behind Scott McClellan. The subject this week is not the misdeeds of government. The subject this week is the misdeeds of journalism. No wonder many editors and editorialists want to change the subject.

"We feel badly": With those insultingly wan words, Whitaker thinks that he has wrapped things up. All of Newsweek's penitential protestations notwithstanding, what emerges from this episode is the image of a profession that is complacent, self-righteous, and hopelessly in love with itself. Is this a terrible generalization? Well, there are 17 people who lost their lives because of the state of journalistic practice at a U.S. magazine. When American journalists do not think of themselves as heroes, they think of themselves as victims; but here they are neither. They are--I mean Isikoff and his editors--simply scavengers.

Little background: Marty Peretz was a partisan (and I don't mean that in a bad way) centrist-liberal Democrat and one of Al Gore's biggest boosters throught the eighties, nineties, and the years that come after the nineties that still don't have a good name (I call them the "nils," but no one else will follow my lead, and damnit, the decade is almost over already).

Since 9/11 he has had a full on conversion. I doubt he identifies himself as a Republican or conservative yet, but I've seen the pattern, having lived through it myself.

Having just watched the brilliant Barcelona, I'm reminded of the main character's theory on sales. There is a moment in a potential sale requiring positive affirmation on the part of the would-be buyer, as he decides whether he really is a "green-carpet kind of guy." At this point a good salesman executes Maneuver X, removing himself from the equation as much as possible, to allow the potential buyer to make that step himself without any external pressure.

So I'm not saying anything here.

I'm just suggesting to Mr. Peretz that green carpet might look pretty damn sweet in the billiards room.


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posted by Ace at 12:45 PM

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