The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Monday, June 18, 2007

Mission Creep

It's been a while since I picked on The New Republic, but Eric Alterman has gone and done it for me at The American Prospect. It's more of a 'meta' look at what's gone wrong at the magazine (I've only been reading it for nine years), but the narrative he shares is basically the problem I've had with the magazine writ large: a continual decline with little reason to hope for improvement. It's a long article, but an interesting one.

Have you ever -- ever -- read an editorial in The New Republic that does not take the Israeli government's side in a dispute? Was Israel wrong to invade Lebanon in 1982? Did it use excessive force during the first or second intifadas? Was it really so smart to destroy Yassir Arafat's encampment while he was inside it? Was last year's invasion of Lebanon a mistake? Was the use of cluster bombs in civilian areas morally unimpeachable? Is it possible that Israel's leaders -- unlike every set of leaders that have ever ruled any nation -- are always right? And is it possible that for the first time in history, two nations -- one, a tiny, beleaguered state in the Middle East, surrounded by hostile countries, the other, a North American superpower, unmenaced on its borders and surrounded by friendly neighbors -- just happen to have interests that are identical in absolutely every situation?

That's an example of one of the things that has always concerned me about the magazine-- its troublingly one-sided coverage of a story where there's plenty of blame to share. Alterman doesn't even cover the laughable "blogofascism" mess with any depth, but there's still plenty of damning evidence there. And much of what Alterman says about the magazine's past (as opposed to specific issues) can be applied to the MSM. It's a portrait of people in love with image and reputation rather than truth.