Monday, September 11, 2006

The long war against TNR's reputation

The global struggle against blogofascism steps up a notch with the creation of a blog specifically for TNR owner and crazy man Martin Peretz:
Let me concede: I am a friend of Scooter Libby. But I do not like his boss. And I do not like his boss's wife. I know this gets me no credit with the all-or-nothing crowd. Still, I like Scooter, who is quite brilliant, very honest, and brave. Also funny. I've contributed to The Libby Legal Defense Fund and have joined the fund's advisory committee, which is not large because in Washington old pals dessert when even their college roommate gets into trouble. In a time when self-styled civil libertarians are giving money to defend Muslim terrorists, I am happy to help defend an American patriot, some of whose politics I do not share and some of whose politics I do, from a cynical onslaught of the special prosecutor who put journalists into jail for not telling him what he already knew.
I'm sure it warms the hearts of TNR readers to know that their money is going to help defend Libby against 5 counts of false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice rather than, say, reelecting Democrats. But then, we shouldn't forget, Peretz - the man who signs the paychecks of everyone at TNR - hasn't quite decided whether he prefers to have Dems take over the house or senate this year:
HH: Do you want the Democrats to win majorities in the House or the Senate, Martin Peretz?

MP: I'm...I'm appalled by some of the people who would become head of Congressional committees.

HH: Is that a no?

MP: Uh, but I'm also appalled by some of the shenanigans...

HH: But is that...I've got five seconds. Is that a no, Martin Peretz?

MP: It's a cowardly refusal to answer.

HH: (laughing) Okay. We'll carry it on, later. Martin Peretz, thanks

We must accept that either 1. Editorial decisions at TNR - decisions like who gets a blog - are not very well insulated from the whims of those backing the magazine monetarily or 2. Editorial judgments at TNR are poor. Or I suppose both can be true.

Either way it does not speak well to the magazines integrity or savvy.


Aaron said...

Ha, I love funny posts like these.

1. money is going to help defend Libby against 5 counts of false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice rather than, say, reelecting Democrats

Weren't you the one who cautioned me against looking at the funding of Democratic races in '06 as zero-sum? Peretz is independently wealthy and can spend his money however he likes, even on things that you or I might not.

2. One of the things that distinguishes TNR from most magazines is that their Editor-in-Chief actually has very little say w/r/t the content of the magazine's writing. It's incredibly sloppy to say that, because Peretz now has a blog (which, after all may be a quick fix after the Siegel debacle) that "Editorial decisions at TNR...are not very well insulated from the whims of those backing the magazine monetarily." No, they are actually, probably more so than any other magazine or newspaper in the country. I don't agree with Peretz on a lot of things, but his getting a personal blog (the horror!) is not really that big a deal.

3. I see that the other blog that they unveiled has, you know, managed to totally escape your attention. I think that it's much bigger news, personally; just look at their contributor list.

Tommaso Sciortino said...

1. I thought you'd like that. Are you now flipping your position as well or are you going to agree with me? or is it that each instance of spending money should be viewed on it's own merits? I suppose we can just assume you're arguing that the two cases are similar enough that one should reach the same conclusion in both cases. of course that would require, you know, making an argument and presenting evidence.

2. Fair enough. TNR's editorial desicions are great except for when they're not. Two quality blogs out of three ain't bad. Also, Peretz' financial connections to the magazine do not have any connection to them hiring him, a person who is - we all agree - kind of emberessing. So I guess they just occasionally hiring embaressing writers.

Aaron said...

1. if Peretz were actively trying to raise money for the defense of libby, I would grant you the equivalence. But that doesn't mean that I can't also point out a little bit of hypocrisy on your part in any case. ;)

2. They do, that's the natural outcome of taking an ideological magpie approach to the hiring of writers.

Aaron said...

Also, jesus christ have you read Peretz's original post? Aside from the blatantly stupid things that he says about Libby, he points out some VERY interesting things about Plamegate.

Tommaso Sciortino said...

What a waste of time. Tell me, what's so interesting, Aaron? That Joe Wilson was second-rater? That it's odd that he was sent to niger to verify some documents when he has no sppok skills (what does Peretz think Wilson was there to do? break into the prime minister's palace at midnight, repel down, and covertly set up an apointment with the interior secratary the next morning so he can verify some documents?)

Oh no! I know what's VERY interesting. The mindless parroting of the mindless idea that since armitege leaked it there was obviously no leaking on the part of anyone else... which doesn't do much to explain what the hell Libby was doing by obstructing justice.

Kevin Drum put it best:

Those of you who haven't followed Plamegate from the very beginning may not remember this, but although David Corn's column on July 16, 2003, was the first to break the news of Plame's outing, it wasn't until later that the Plame affair turned into a full-fledged firestorm. It was a story in the Washington Post two month's after Corn's column that did it. Here's what it said:

"A senior administration official said two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and revealed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife...."Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official said of the alleged leak.

That changed the story completely: instead of one guy talking to one reporter, it was multiple White House officials methodically calling their sources and hoping someone would bite on a juicy morsel designed solely for political revenge. That was a story, and everyone went nuts.

But was it true? Well, three years later we know that Karl Rove spoke to at least two reporters about Plame (Novak and Matt Cooper). We know that Scooter Libby spoke to Judith Miller about Plame. We know that someone else provided the actual name "Plame" to Miller. We know that at least half a dozen reporters were told about the Plame story by one official or another (Novak, Cooper, Miller, Bob Woodward, Walter Pincus, and, perhaps, Knut Royce). We know that Scooter Libby lied repeatedly about his actions to both investigators and a grand jury, something he'd be unlikely to do unless the truth were more damaging than a possible perjury trial."

Aaron said...

Well, I'll certainly take your last comment as evidence of your general willingness to selectively quote somebody without reading him/her in their entirety. Poor form.

In any case, I thought that the Powell angle and the Washington Post article that he linked to (which I'll presume that you haven't read either -- has TAP informed you what the correct response to that is yet? ;) were both pretty interesting.

Aaron said...

Well, this is pretty interesting, too.

Thinker said...

Robert Parry's take is also worthy of note.

Tommaso Sciortino said...

I think you might find this interesting.

Aaron said...

okay, wow, I don't know if I have the patience to parse all of this, but a few things seem pretty clear:

1. the Administration definitely behaved very badly on this one...

2. ...but, aside from Libby's perjury, they didn't behave criminally.

3. Joe Wilson is kind of a self-aggrandizing idiot.

4. Armitage is a shithead who allowed people go to jail rather than step up and forthrightly face the consequences of any leaking that he did.

5. whatever the minutia of who's playing CYA more -- Armitage or Novak or any of the other principles -- the whole thing stinks and all involved parties should feel embarrassed.

Tommaso Sciortino said...

A couple things are clear from my perspective:

1. Thanks for coming around on this.

2. You're ability to swallow the whitehouse's party line is nothing short of amazing. Patrick Fitzgerald made it very clear that Libby was "kicking sand at the umpire" so we *don't* really know if the white house behaved crimminally. Any proclamation on your part that *we know* they didn't are not based on the facts so far as I understand them. (though of course, no one should be punished crimminally unless wrong-doing can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt)

3. Nobody's perfect. Though I wonder what exactly Joe Wilson is guilty of besides grandstanding to engage his political enemies who destroyed his wife's carear while making america less safe.

4. Sure.

5. Administration officials blow the cover of a CIA agent working on WMDs, the husband engages in some over the top rehtoric, so I guess they're even. Sheesh!