Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ed Driscoll on TNR's Owner's Gobbledegook.

Chris Hughes is a co-founder of Facebook and at age 29, richer than any guy in his twenties has any right to be.... Here's what he said about the newest toy in his collection, The New Republc.
The journalism in these pages will strive to be free of party ideology or partisan bias, although it will showcase passionate writing and will continue to wrestle with the primary questions about our society. Our purpose is not simply to tell interesting stories, but to always ask why these stories matter and tie their reporting back to our readers. We hope to discern the hidden patterns, to connect the disparate facts, and to find the deeper meaning, a layer of understanding beyond the daily headlines.
Yes, Happy Horseshit to be sure, but the first clause about "striving" sounds like "Methinks the lady doth protest too much" in a screeching soprano. Here's Jonah Goldberg:
The new New Republic claims it will be free of party ideology or partisan bias. I honestly don’t know exactly what Hughes means by this, but it strikes me as a very bad start. A New Republic that is liberalism-free has no reason to exist (much as a National Review that is conservatism-free is pointless). A liberal New Republic that pretends it’s free of liberalism while it attempts to advance liberalism is a huge step backwards. After all, why should the reader trust a bunch of committed liberal opinion journalists if they can’t even be honest about what they are or what they are trying to do?
Ann Althouse makes a different point:
Here‘s a HuffPo article from last March about Hughes’s purchase of TNR, noting that he was “a key player in President Obama’s online organizing efforts in 2008.” Why would we expect this man — who’s only 29, by the way — to strive to be free of party ideology or partisan bias? I’ve got to assume the striving is toward seeming to be free of party ideology and partisan bias, because that’s what journalists always say they are doing when they have ideological and partisan goals.

Based on that interview with Obama, I’d say Hughes is not striving that hard or he’s not good at what he’s striving to do or — most likely — he only wants to appeal to Democrats, so he only wants to do enough to seem to be free of party ideology and partisan bias to Democrats. Is this enough to make our target audience feel good about the nourishment they’re getting from this source? The good feeling is some combination of seeming like professional journalism while satisfying their emotional needs that are intertwined their political ideology and love of party.
Ed Driscoll sums it all up:

The New Republic’s subscriber base is much smaller than Newsweek’s before the lights went out (the New York Times claimed yesterday that TNR had 44,177 subscribers, with an additional 1,700 or so of newsstand sales for each issue). But do TNR readers also want to pretend that they’re reading a magazine that’s “free of party ideology or partisan bias?”

Perhaps they do: conservatives and libertarians are almost invariably happy to openly describe themselves as conservatives and libertarians; the left wants to believe that from the top down, they’re completely free of ideology and partisanship. They’re simply “pragmatic,” as Jonah notes, favoring FDR-inspired “bold experimentation” — all the while building a philosophy in which no portion of life is untrammeled by politics (because the personal is political is personal is political, ad infinitum). Liberal newspaper and broadcast journalists have played this game for 80 years or so — and continue to do so; they think the “I have no idea what my/what my colleague’s ideology is” claim is a selling point.
TNR is as dishonest and devious as the rest of the left seems to be.

And Chris Hughes can't hide it with an earnest prolegomena citing the dispassionate objective spin of TNR without his nose growing at a Pinocchio length of at least a yard/meter.

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