Even the liberal New Republic

John noted the Marty Peretz/Betsy McCaughey connection. Betsy McCaughey’s dishonest smear piece, titled “No Exit” on Hillarycare, published in The New Republic while Sully was editor, was perhaps the lowest moment in the magazine’s history, and that’s saying a great deal. The wiki on Betsy McCaughey is pretty thorough: here’s a summary of her smear of the Clinton health care reform bill and here she is lying about provisions of the stimulus.

Just to give you some notion of how awful McCaughey’s “No Exit” was, here’s James Fallows, calling it a “A Triumph of Misinformation”. Franklin Foer apologized for the piece when he assumed creative control of the magazine in 2006. It’s also fair to say that Sully’s smarmy defense of the piece is one of lowest moments in the history of his blog.

And now McCaughey’s back telling lies about Obama’s health care plan and the Atlantic has assumed the New Republic’s old role of attacking health care reform from a faux high-brow perspective.

Plus ça change.






62 replies
  1. 1
    Ann B. Nonymous says:

    Really, lower than The Bell Curve crapfest? (Though the Irish are genetically inferior in recognizing factual arguments, so perhaps we shouldn’t hold it against Sullivan so much.)

  2. 2
    SGEW says:

    I think it’s time to start the countdown until James Fallows quits the Atlantic in disgust.

    Since his return from China, he’s still having eye-opening moments regarding what has changed in his absence (his WaPo take, for instance). How long until he takes a hard look at his own publication?

    Integrity test for Mr. Fallows, starting now.

  3. 3
    Corner Stone says:

    of the piece is one of lowest moments in the history of his blog

    Yeah, but how in the hell could you tell?
    For all the sycophantic regard for Sully among the front pagers here at BJ, it’s more than clear that he doesn’t get things right, he doesn’t approach most things honestly, and he is unable to rationalize his very existence against his avowed belief systems.

  4. 4
    eric says:

    The Atlantic’s new maxim: better read than dead.

    Let me suggest a business plan for the Atlantic and struggling dead tree publications, go look at the Nation.

    Second, just a reminder, Obama fired up a lot of people — people that wanted to be engaged, people that wanted to be a part of real change. Maybe, just maybe, those people are college educated readers. You do not need to be as wonky as the American Prospect, but you need to create a brand that is associated with “change” and explaining how the world really works, see taibbi, matt. Plus, there are bloggers that have the respect of their blogging peers, see Digby, Wheeler, Marci. I read these people now for free, but would certainly consider a magazine that had the best of the blogs researching and writing every other week.

    The Atlantic is a waste. It has so trashed its own brand that it will lose an entire generation of potential readers, that are already disinclined to pick up a dead tree magazine.

    eric

  5. 5
    drew42 says:

    What’s up with her teeth?

  6. 6
    BHall35 says:

    I sent John an email about this very thing the other day, and I’m glad to see others highlighting Sullivan’s role in the whole fiasco.

  7. 7

    There was a protester at the Obama town hall carrying a 9mm strapped to his leg. WTF?

  8. 8
    eric says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: wow, i kinda know the metric system but even i know that mrs. protestor must be one very frustrated woman.

    eric

  9. 9
    BHall35 says:

    I sent John an email about this very thing the other day, and I’m glad to see others highlighting Sullivan’s role in the whole fiasco, especially once he started hyperventilating about Palin’s death panel comments.

  10. 10
    Jay B. says:

    Peretz is a shit, but if he didn’t let Sullivan publish it he would have been criticized for spiking editorial content.

    Sully’s fingerprints are all over the health care liefest and the Bell Curve inanity. To ignore his role in it is really shocking and stupid.

  11. 11
    Mike P says:

    Fallows won’t leave the Atlantic, IMO, nor should he. He’s stated recently that one the things he likes about working there is that they’ve given the freedom to challenge their fellow writers (see his wonderful take down of a recent Ross Douthat op-ed about Texas being a model state during the economic meltdown).

    But two additional points:
    1) Where would Fallows go if he left the Atlantic? The obvious answer is the New Yorker, but they’re probably in no better shape financially than the Atlantic is. The New York Review of Books? Good stuff in there, but it doesn’t have the exposure and visibility of the Atlantic. Given that Fallows at this point does long form almost exclusively, he doesn’t have a lot of options left in the MSM.

    2) Fallows, though liberal, is not a person that is easy for conservatives to discredit because he’s not an idealogical brawler, and he’s both honest about his politics and has a high degree of integrity and credibility as a long time journalist. As such, I think it’s important for him to stay inside the Atlantic where he can more directly take on questionable “he said, she said” reporting from Marc Abminder and also push back against political disagreements with the magazine’s more conservative authors. I think that’s why it’s important that TNC is there as well, as he takes on McMegan/Sully and, when he was there, Douthat, without much reservation.

  12. 12

    There was a woman in NH carrying a sign which reads

    I WILL NOT DISCUSS MY END-OF-LIFE OPTIONS WITH ANYONE

    discuss my and anyone being printed in red (as opposed to the blue of the other text). It is no doubt mean of me but I hope she eventually ends up paralyzed and unable to speak, but aware, hooked up to every single gizmo in the entire hospital, thinking to herself as she attempts to blink at the medical staff “fuck, fuck, fuck, I should have told them I never wanted this, I really should, how long are they going to allow me to be like this?”

  13. 13
    DougJ says:

    For all the sycophantic regard for Sully among the front pagers here at BJ,

    I find a lot of interesting things on his blog. What do you want me to say?

  14. 14
    Ash says:

    Poor Claire McCaskill, she’s trying very hard to be nice and these fucktards are just being jackasses.

  15. 15
    Tax Analyst says:

    Litlebritdifrnt said:

    “There was a woman in NH carrying a sign which reads

    I WILL NOT DISCUSS MY END-OF-LIFE OPTIONS WITH ANYONE

    discuss my and anyone being printed in red (as opposed to the blue of the other text). It is no doubt mean of me but I hope she eventually ends up paralyzed and unable to speak, but aware, hooked up to every single gizmo in the entire hospital, thinking to herself as she attempts to blink at the medical staff ‘fuck, fuck, fuck, I should have told them I never wanted this, I really should, how long are they going to allow me to be like this?”

    Mean? Perhaps. But not unfair.

  16. 16
    ChrisS says:

    Lying seems to be all the GOP has left.

  17. 17

    @Mike P: Thank you.

    I think I’ll wait until we get to the 87th post of the day about the stupid shit being said or written about healthcare reform before I expend too much effort on a clever comment.

  18. 18

    About a month ago, I finished reading Eric Alterman’s “What Liberal Media?” and he had a pretty heavy-duty smackdown of the idea that TNR was anywhere near a “liberal” publication. The brief theory being that, in the minds of the “center-right” villagers, anyone who was to their left was “liberal.” Fascinating book, even if it’s now 5 years old.

  19. 19
    Ash Can says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: I’m assuming that person wasn’t actually packing in the meeting hall, right?

  20. 20
    feral1 says:

    I torn about whether Fallows should stay with the Atlantic. He’s, by far, my favorite mainstream journalist and he’s the only reason I still have a subscription to the Atlantic. However, I’ve pretty much decided not to renew, b/c I can’t stand the idea of subsidizing any part of McMegan or Easterbrook’s “work”. It’s true that the Atlantic is a powerful platform for Fallows, but at the same time, his presence on the masthead offers credibiltity to the McMegan/Easterbrook crowd.

  21. 21
    DougJ says:

    I torn about whether Fallows should stay with the Atlantic.

    I think he should stay but call the others on their bullshit (where others here mostly means McArdle and Ambinder, I’ve actually grown to find Goldberg mostly tolerable).

  22. 22
    HumboldtBlue says:

    I find a lot of interesting things on his blog. What do you want me to say?blockquote

    That he’s a dishonest racist hack who believes the less melanin one has in their skin the smarter they are, just because. That he’s a dishonest hack spreading bullshit about a health care reform package he knows less about than I do. That he’s a simpering twit. Also.

  23. 23
    gypsy howell says:

    @Tax Analyst:

    And if she really gets lucky, she’ll have swarms of screaming protesters outside her hospital door and some quickie one-off federal legislation to keep her alive.

  24. 24

    @Ash Can:

    No, he was apparently quite far from the actual town hall, and apparently, NH law allows you to carry a gun as long as it’s out in the open (per MSNBC). What do you want to bet he had a personal secret service agent through the entire thing?

    Idiot.

  25. 25
    ChrisS says:

    Meh.

    I’m going fly-fishing, this stuff is starting to get my dander up.

    Unfortunately, despite the introduced salmon taking to Lake Ontario well and establishing a naturally reproducing population, Lake Ontario is polluted and the NYSDEC recommends eating no more than one portion of salmon per month. Bio-accumulation and all that.

    It’d sure be nice to live in a world where crack-pot theories are exposed rather than propagated.

  26. 26
    steve s says:

    @eric: unless 9mm referred to radius…

  27. 27
    Calouste says:

    I wonder why Sullivan has so many problems with civilized health care. Did 14-year old Andy Sullivan have a somewhat painful procedure at an NHS dentist, and then that very evening, when he was saying his daily prayers to Mammon under his Margaret Thatcher pin-up poster, he decided that he would make opposition to any government involvement in health care the centre of his life?

  28. 28
    DecidedFenceSitter says:

    No the person packing, had a presumably legally acquired gun, carried in a legally-permissable manner, that is – in a holster.

    In NH there is no need for a license to carry a gun in a holster in the open, only if it is concealed OR loaded in a vehicle. (That’s actually two different licenses).

  29. 29
    Persia says:

    @Tax Analyst: I dunno, I’d find it pretty satisfying if she was lying there, hooked up to a dozen machines, desperately wanting to live and her kids said, “Oh, I know mom wouldn’t want to live like this” and pulled the plug.

    I’m sort of okay with being a terrible person.

  30. 30
    Corner Stone says:

    @HumboldtBlue: Dishonest really sums it up. Self-delusional, also.
    I’ve seen people say BS like, “From coming from where he does, Sully sometimes gets to the right answer.” No. He doesn’t.
    “He’s so honest and open about his thought process.” No. He isn’t.
    I could go on, but WTF? The man is self indulgent scum.
    Yeah, he’s argued against torture. So the F what? What sentient being hasn’t? This is a saving grace?
    “Man, I wanted to smother that baby but I decided not to.”…”Oh, very nicely done sir. Indeed your decision making process makes me want to read your blog further.”

  31. 31
    SGEW says:

    @Mike P: Unrebuttable.

    Adding to your points, his “Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom” posts (esp. the F-22 one) have much greater force coming from within the publication. I only hope that he increases this criticism and exercises reasonable disclosure as to his involvement with the rest of the organization. As to his other options, maybe he’s waiting and watching how Dan Froomkin’s career goes.

    (I would point out, however, that Fallows is easily discredited by “conservatives” because he was once a speechwriter for Jimmy “History’s Worst Monster” Carter. Quelle horreur!)

  32. 32
    Kathy in St. Louis says:

    What a pretentious pile The Atlantic has become. It suffers from the same problem as so many other publications. The writers, who just loved and adored J school, are too lazy and self-important to do the dirty work of investigative reporting. They are getting their information about what this bill contains from interested parties on Capitol Hill, members of various legislators’ teams. Much easier to go to lunch with someone than it is to slog through the boredom of the bill. Ask Sarah Paliln. That’s how she does it, too.

  33. 33
    Zifnab says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    It is no doubt mean of me but I hope she eventually ends up paralyzed and unable to speak, but aware, hooked up to every single gizmo in the entire hospital, thinking to herself as she attempts to blink at the medical staff “fuck, fuck, fuck, I should have told them I never wanted this, I really should, how long are they going to allow me to be like this?”

    Or you could go the other way and hope she slips into a diabetic coma, gets dropped from her insurance, and has the hospital pull the plug on her.

  34. 34
    Corner Stone says:

    @Persia:

    I’m sort of okay with being a terrible person.

    One of us! One of us!

  35. 35
    steve s says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Chris Rock: “N****s always want credit for some shit they _supposed_ to do. ‘I take care of my kids.’ ‘You’re _supposed_ to take care of your kids.'”

    “I opposed torture.” “You’re _supposed_ to oppose torture.”

  36. 36
    Napoleon says:

    @feral1:

    I could have written your post – that is exactly where I am at with Fallows/The Atlantic.

  37. 37
    SGEW says:

    [where is my edit button?!]

  38. 38
    Ash Can says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: I did read a comment on DKos a little while ago about people in NH being allowed to carry, but were watched extremely carefully if they did. I imagine it to be along the lines of some large, mean-looking Secret Service folks saying to the guy, “Sure, you’re allowed by law to carry. And we’re allowed by law to stand here right next to you and bury your Yankee ass in the asphalt if you make any false moves.”

  39. 39
    Corner Stone says:

    @steve s: Steve, I’m sorry to argue with you, but I couldn’t help but notice there’s a stunning lack of “concern troll” mentioned here.
    This is kind of like when Quagmire forgets his patented “OH!”
    Otherwise, exactly right.

  40. 40
    Ed Drone says:

    … desperately wanting to live and her kids insurance company said, “Oh, I know mom wouldn’t want to live like this” and pulled the plug.

    Fixed, I hope. (Damn this no-preview regime).

    Ed

  41. 41
    kuvasz says:

    Meanwhile Mr Cole, you continue to think that the sun shines out Andy Sullivan’s HIV infected asshole?

    Its seems that old habits are hard to break.

  42. 42
    David Hunt says:

    @kuvasz:

    DougJ wrote this post, not Mr. Cole.

  43. 43
    You Don't Say says:

    I’m lost. Does anyone have a link to the Atlantic article referred to?

    And James Fallows is my journalistic hero. I will read him whenever and wherever he writes.

  44. 44
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    There was a protester at the Obama town hall carrying a 9mm strapped to his leg. WTF?

    He was probably just wearing it for personal protection. Let’s be honest, these days you never know when a brawl is gonna break out and it’s a lot easier to wave a gun around frantically and fire it in the air than land a good punch and risk getting punched back – in the nose, where it really really hurts.

    Carrying a pistol has the added advantage of allowing you to stop armed robberies in progress, capture escaped felons, walk amongst minorities with confidence, intimidate your daughter’s boyfriend and otherwise augment local law enforcement.

    One of the rarely-discussed side benefits is the respect you automatically garner from lowly officials, political representatives and clerks as they assume you are a person of stature and importance because you are carrying a gun out in the open like a real police officer. Coupled with a Chevrolet Caprice or Ford Crown Royal and your perceived importance is practically off the scale.

    I’m often called on to take up the offering in my church. Usually the pastor will make a small joke about how no one better hold out on me because I’m packing heat and then everyone will laugh. Respectfully, of course.

  45. 45
    CapMidnight says:

    @steve s:

    unless 9mm referred to radius…

    I bet it was a Pez dispenser holding 9 M&Ms strapped to his leg.

  46. 46
    DougJ says:

    Does anyone have a link to the Atlantic article referred to?

    Read pretty much anything from McArdle, Good, or Ambinder from the last few months.

  47. 47

    @Zifnab:

    Yeah that’ll work too. It just seemed to me to be such a horribly paranoid and to be honest utterly stupid thing to say. Doctor to sign woman: say your leg is infected, we need to amputate to save your life, I need to discuss it with you. Sign woman: I will not discuss end-of-life issues with anyone. Doctor: Fair enough. Bye now.

  48. 48
    SGEW says:

    @You Don’t Say:

    Does anyone have a link to the Atlantic article referred to?

    I think that people are just describing the general reportage from the Atlantic’s bloggers (McCardle, Sullivan, and Ambinder). To tell the truth, I have no idea how the rest of the publication has been covering the health care debate, not having read the print edition in more than a year.

  49. 49
    racrecir says:

    Some additional McCaughey links on the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology who will “will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective….”

    Fallows takes note.

    Benen give play-by-play.

  50. 50
    steve s says:

    @Corner Stone: It was a silent ‘concern troll’ :-)

    If I have time, I’ll write a Greasemonkey script that appends “Also. This. Concern Troll. Something person is something” to every post here, saving the BJ community from having to do that manually 487 times per day.

  51. 51
    SGEW says:

    @steve s: Trying person is trying.

    Also.

  52. 52
    You Don't Say says:

    @SGEW: And to DougJ, thanks. What do you think of the the cover story by David Goldhill?

  53. 53
    DougJ says:

    What do you think of the the cover story by David Goldhill?

    Contrarian bullshit from someone who knows nothing about health care.

    And Jesus Christ, could he have fucked around more before getting to his point? I hate lede-burying.

  54. 54
    Downpuppy says:

    Ambinder & McStupid are doing all the health care smearing this time.

    Sullivan (or his subs) is just posting stories from people who’ve been fucked over by the current system., like
    http://andrewsullivan.theatlan......html#more

    It’s actually pretty good stuff.

  55. 55
    Mike P says:

    The Ambinder post that has gotten the most attention lately is this one about the astroturfing going on at the town halls.

    Another one of note that actually wasn’t penned by Ambinder was this one from Matt Cooper about why the brawls that are going on now are a good thing.

  56. 56
    Mike says:

    You are doing a good job enumerating the reasons I hold Sullivan in utter contempt: the lying garbage he published as an editor. Another reason is for his policy of outing people who didn’t want to be outed. That is a disgusting violation of privacy. No one should ever take Sullivan seriously nor take anyone seriously who does.

    Mike P…. Where would Fallows go if he left the Atlantic?

    Harpers with Scott Horton
    Don’t forget, the Atlantic sucked Big Time under the editorship of Michael Kelly who was a foaming-at-mouth anti-Clintonite whackjob, another trait shared by Sullivan.

  57. 57
    Mike P says:

    @Mike: Harper’s is good stuff as well, but, and this is just my own take, that might be more of a lateral move rather than a step up. In any case, I totally forgot about it when I wrote that first comment, so that’s my bad.

  58. 58
    jfxgillis says:

    Speaking of smarmy Sullivan, here’s my on Andrew Sullivan which raises a lot of theres health-care/McCaughey issues at length.

  59. 59
    Aaron says:

    I agree with the thrust of this and that “No Exit” seems to have been a horrible piece of journalism, but a point of clarification: “A Triumph of Misinformation” was the title of Fallows’ piece and applied to the whole health care debacle, but he did not in the piece, as far as I read, use that phrase for “No Exit” specifically.

  60. 60
    oh really says:

    It’s also fair to say that Sully’s smarmy defense of the piece is one of lowest moments in the history of his blog.

    And that’s saying a great deal.

    I find a lot of interesting things on his blog. What do you want me to say?

    Yeah, I saw an “interesting” piece in a tabloid (supermarket checkout lane) about how Obama’s gay lover works in the White House and Michelle is really pissed off.

    Interesting maybe, but being interesting didn’t actually justify anyone’s reading it. Ditto for Sullivan, who really should devote the rest of his life to sorting out the Palin clan and who begat whom.

  61. 61
    Steeplejack says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    Win. Although I think you drink a Crown Royal and ride in a Crown Victoria.

    This is from one who, during a period of particularly bad poverty, when I didn’t even have money to get my license tags renewed, could identify in the rearview mirror the headlight pattern of a Crown Vic a quarter-mile back and discreetly get off onto a side street so as not to inconvenience the officer by making him pull me over and give me a ticket.

  62. 62

    […] 1994 she succeeded, thanks to an article called “No Exit” published in The New Republic, then edited by Andrew Sullivan, to which she had been […]

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