August 14, 2007

TNR: the Way Foerward

Hatched by Dafydd

I know this is a pipe dream (and just what is in that pipe, Mr. Huge?), but it really would be possible for the New Republic to regain a solid chunk of its good reputation. However, some of the steps may be very painful for the current management:

  1. CanWest, owner of TNR, needs to fire the entire senior editorial staff, not just Marty Peretz (if contractually allowed) and Franklin Foer. The other managing and senior (not contributing or copy-) editors had the same duty to see what was going on as Foer himself. The only exception would be senior staff editors who raised red flags but were overruled -- and who then contacted the owners of the magazine to alert them to the danger, rather than just shrugging and saying "oh well."
  2. They need to hire a highly respected and very senior executive editor from somewhere else; retired is fine, as this may be a temporary job. This new (possibly interim) executive editor must completely reinvestigate and rereport the Pvt. Beauchamp chronicles. Think of this fellow as the Inspector General.
  3. TNR must commit to fully reporting, in detail, everything the Inspector General finds, good and bad. They must commit to regular reports explaining...
    • How Beauchamp got the assignment in the first place;
    • What he was told to write and submit;
    • Whether his "diarists" were treated as outside submissions or in-house editorials;
    • Whether any editors issued any warnings, oral or written, that things didn't smell right in the stories;
    • If so, what happened to those warnings;
    • What fact-checking was done, who was called, what was each expert told, what did he respond, how was that response answered in the articles themselves -- was even a single line changed due to fact-checking problems?

  4. They need to publish a cover-story article retracting all the claims made by Beauchamp that the Inspector General is unable to confirm by rereporting. They need to set the record straight.
  5. After which, naturally, the editorial rules at TNR must change; they must commit to a more robust and editorially independent fact-checking department; and they must commit to holding up publication of articles until they have been fact-checked.

We're not seeking perfection here; every periodical, especially political magazines, will have a bias and will fact-check at less than 100% accuracy. But magazines like TNR, publishing biweekly, should be at least as assiduous about what they print as, say, the New York Times, which publishes every darn day. While the Times falls far short of being utterly reliable, it remains lightyears ahead of the New Republic under the current editorial leadership.

If CanWest moves swiftly along this path, I think it can weather this humiliation and move forward with a better -- and more widely accepted -- magazine, rather than the partisan hackrag they have had under Franklin "We've become more liberal!" Foer since March, 2006.

I don't believe this is asking too much... only that the magazine admit what it did wrong and change its operating procedures to what they should have been all along. TNR must become more accurate, rather than more liberal.

Now that I think about it, maybe that is asking too much!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 14, 2007, at the time of 4:58 AM

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The following hissed in response by: howardhughes

If The New Republic is not punished other than by having the principle officers and editors responsible for the libel canned, the unethical behavior will continue, not just in this publication but in others. It is time for the U.S. or maybe a public interest law firm to test American libel laws in a case against TNR. Army soldiers in Beauchamps unit or the army command in Iraq could be the Plaintiffs. TNR, its principle officers and editors and Beauchamp would be the Defendants. Damages, if awarded,would be donated to children of soldiers killed in action.

The above hissed in response by: howardhughes [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2007 6:12 AM

The following hissed in response by: Fritz

Ah but Dafydd, the reality based crowd cannot be wrong. Last I heard Dapper Dan was still searching for Lucy to back him up. I think he will find her about the same time as OJ finds his wife's killer.

On a more serious note, they have so much invested in identity politics that they cannot admit any errors as that would crush their egos.

The above hissed in response by: Fritz [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2007 6:19 AM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

To become more accurate is, by definition, to become less liberal. And they can't become less liberal, otherwise, who'll save the world? Quite the dilemma.

Sorry, but after the Phillip Glass fiasco this is the nail in the coffin for TNR. But that's alright. They can all get jobs at Newsqueak.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2007 8:56 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Big D:

Sorry, but after the Phillip Glass fiasco this is the nail in the coffin for TNR.

I don't know; I always thought the Phillip Glass scandal was pretty minimalist. It always reminded me of the Simon and Garfunkle song "the Sounds of Silence."

Now, the Stephen Glass scandal, on the other hand...


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2007 12:26 PM

The following hissed in response by: Big D



I'm always mixing up the wine glasses and the cocktail glasses too. Let this be a lesson. Don't drink and type. And that's one to grow on.

(Cue hopefull piano tinkle).

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2007 1:46 PM

The following hissed in response by: Master Shake

Another good step would be to re-hire the whistleblower that they fired, assuming he would still want to work for those lying weasels.

The above hissed in response by: Master Shake [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 15, 2007 8:13 AM

The following hissed in response by: JohnSal

For me personally the TNR misadventure is a sad episode in the decline of what was once a relevant opinion magazine. TNR has a long and mixed history, which largely mirrors the ideological journey of liberalism. I subscribed to TNR while working in El Salvador during the civil war. TNR was the go to source for relatively unbiased reporting on the situation there. During this period, TNR was one of the few left-wing publications that maintained an editorial position that reflected the traditional Cold War liberalism, a la JFK and George Meany, of anti-Communist foreign policy and government led social programs. If my admittedly fraying memory serves, both Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes (with Charles Krauthammer, I think) served on the staff. Foreign policy must-reads were frequent. By the time I returned to the magazine in the 1990s they had drifted out into the "left wing sea" and were indistinguishable from other left leaning print media. If the DLC continues to become less relevant in Democrat Party affairs, then TNR will have no home port to return to, even if a new editorial staff desired it. I, for one, hereby shed a small tear.

The above hissed in response by: JohnSal [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 15, 2007 11:58 AM

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