Saturday, August 04, 2007
Do magazines have DNA?
Is the New Republic cursed with a liar gene?
The magazine of Scott Beauchamp also gave us Lee Seigel, Stephen Glass, and Ruth Shalit. Michael Kinsley was an editor there for years before moving to Slate and the “monkey fishing” debacle. Sullivan was the TNR editor when both Shalit and Glass were doing their thing. The whole blogosphere has seen plenty of evidence that honesty is a low-value commodity to Exitable Andy. (He, after all, defended Kinsey on the monkey fishing mess.)
From 1948 to 1956 TNR was run by Michael Straight. Thus, we had the spectacle of a liberal magazine denouncing Joe McCarthy for his “witch hunts” while the magazine was under the direction and control of a member of the Philby spy ring.
Go back to the 1930s and you find Malcolm Cowley using TNR’s pages to spin for Stalin and to lie about Joe’s enemies.
That’s a pretty impressive record. I guess the big question is: how does it keep surviving these self-inflicted wounds?
This record also suggests that magazine "brands" are built on something other than credibility and honesty.