Although I agree with some of the recent discussion about The New Republic enabling conservative nonsense, I’d also like to draw attention to some of TNR‘s less acknowledged, but nonetheless egregious mistakes.
When the magazine has turned its contrarian attention towards popular culture, the results can be spectacular–train wreck spectacular. There was the post calling for Comedy Central to ax the Colbert Report after just two weeks, written by the otherwise sensible Noam Scheiber. The best part is when Scheiber begins to speculate as to where the blame should fall, citing rumors that Jon Stewart was too preoccupied with fallout from his Crossfire appearance to “mind his own ship.” Because having your secretary field calls about what it was like to call Tucker Carlson a “douche bag” really takes away from writing that handful of dick jokes before lunch.
Keelin McDonell tipped the magazine close to self-parody by writing “The Case Against Sarah Vowell”. That’s right, the case against a woman who appears on This American Life and Late Night With Conan O’Brien. And who can forget Lee Siegel’s “Letter to Jon Stewart” in which he–in all honesty–wondered if “smelled like ass” was a good thing or bad thing.
The real question you have to be asking yourself isn’t whether TNR has made neocon foreign policy seem sensible, but rather why The Daily Show hasn’t savaged most of the staff yet?