Tuesday, February 27, 2007

New Republic?

One of the odd but revealing bits of intra-Left agitprop in recent years has been the lefty blogger campaign against The New Republic, the venerable liberal magazine. Despite its very diverse product (including anti-Iraq War writers like Spencer Ackerman, and seriously lefty writers like John Judis and Rick Perlstein), TNR has often been demonized on the Left, and lumped into the Evil D.C. Democratic Establishment. Markos Moulitsas regularly refers to TNR as "dying," and when former TNR editor Peter Beinhart admitted he was wrong about the originial decision to invade Iraq, he was generally savaged in the blogosphere for having the temerity to do anything other than retreat, in sackloth and ashes, into perpetual silence.

Last year Beinart was replaced as TNR editor by Franklin Foer, who immediately penned editorials supporting single-payer health coverage, and retracting any suggestion that TNR supported Bush's Iraq policies. And now the magazine has been bought by a Canadian media firm that presumably cannot be accused of neo-conservative views.

It will be interesting to see if TNR's detractors give the magazine a break, or instead continue to attack it for allowing, not highlighting, unorthodox center-left arguments on Iraq and other issues. After all, there is a point of view in the progressive blogosphere that any dissent from the party line, as defined by themselves, reinforces "conservative memes" and cannot, cannot be tolerated. Free speech is limited to those who support the broader Cause, doncha know.

When it comes to TNR specifically, one irritant to progressive blogospheric opinion is definitely going to be the continuing role of Marty Peretz as editor-in-chief. The big irony is that Marty's fantasy is an Al Gore candidacy in 2008, which also happens to be the fantasy of Markos and other netroots detractors of The New Republic. In the unlikely event that Gore decides to run, it will be fascinating to watch lefty bloggers make common cause with Peretz, as against the ostensibly more liberal cynics at TNR and elsewhere.

UPDATE: A correspondent suggested I should have noted that Ackerman was actually fired by TNR last October (I may have at one point been aware of that, but if so, forgot it), though it's not entirely clear from his own account or Foer's what role his anti-war views played in that firing. If that was the only issue, they sure waited a long time to silence him. (Ackerman says his contributions to TNR's in-house blog, The Plank, were being heavily edited. If so, that truly is annoying. What's the point of calling something a blog if it comes with an editorial process?).

The same correspondent also said that the new majority owners of TNR may have more in common with their predecessors than I realized, including a neo-con orientation on foreign policy. I honestly don't know a thing about them other than what I read in the link above.
-- Posted at 5:10 PM | Link to this post | Email this post

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