DougJ asks us all a question:
if you were the business and economics editor of Atlantic, would you devote blog posts to analyzing Michelle Obama’s vacation habits?
To understand why McMegan exists at The Atlantic, you need to realize that the magazine doesn’t really care about business or economics. All the other writers there are interested mainly in politics and culture (except perhaps for James Fallows). Nobody else there is qualified to judge McMegan’s output — I doubt they even care that much about what she writes. Similarly, I would guess that most of the readers of The Atlantic don’t give a shit about business or economics, since the website is top-heavy with political and cultural commentary.
Writers who are serious about business and economics write where there’s an audience for those topics, and where the publication takes those topics seriously. Take Felix Salmon at Reuters, or even Paul Krugman at the Times, as examples.
So, McMegan is a hothouse flower. She doesn’t have to put up with any criticism or scrutiny from people that matter to her (colleagues and editors), so can do stuff like blithely ignoring order-of-magnitude errors. When a serious, knowledgeable writer comes across her work, the usual reaction is a jaw drop. And when she emotes about topics like Michelle Obama’s vacation, she probably gets a pat on the head, because she’s writing at a magazine that cares about politics, not economics.
She’s irrelevant to the real conversation about her topic, and we’d be best to mainly ignore her, except to point and laugh, occasionally.