Much and more has been said about Niall Ferguson’s post-reality Obama rant masquerading as a cover story for Newsweek. It is been debunked and fact checked, as have Ferguson’s weak ass attempts to defend his word salad. But trying to hold the former historian to a reality based world is a fool’s errand. He doesn’t care. He has bigger fish to fry.
Ferguson’s critics have simply misunderstood for whom Ferguson was writing that piece. They imagine that he is working as a professor or as a journalist, and that his standards slipped below those of academia or the media. Neither is right. Look at his speaking agent’s Web site. The fee: 50 to 75 grand per appearance. That number means that the entire economics of Ferguson’s writing career, and many other writing careers, has been permanently altered. Nonfiction writers can and do make vastly more, and more easily, than they could ever make any other way, including by writing bestselling books or being a Harvard professor. Articles and ideas are only as good as the fees you can get for talking about them. They are merely billboards for the messengers.
That number means that Ferguson doesn’t have to please his publishers; he doesn’t have to please his editors; he sure as hell doesn’t have to please scholars. He has to please corporations and high-net-worth individuals, the people who can pay 50 to 75K to hear him talk. That incredibly sloppy article was a way of communicating to them: I am one of you. I can give a great rousing talk about Obama’s failures at any event you want to have me at.
His Newsweek word salad was an application for Wingnut Welfare. His response to criticism is to play the victim of liberal bias–another sure fire way to increase his speaking fees from his Galtian overlords.
Ferguson used to be a historian–and a decent one at that. He has given that up. Now he chases the Lords of crazytown and tells them what they want to hear in exchange for cash. He joins many other people who used to be good at something before they decide to live the rest of their lives on the wingnut dole.
Perhaps our society needs Wingnut Welfare Reform to force some of these grifters to work for a living.