Late-Night Lightweights Open Thread: Five Pounds of Manure in A Ten-Pound Sack

The Atlantic has hired Kevin Williamson away from the National Review, in further display of how Trumpism has exposed the bone-deep corruption of “conservative thinking” just as Trump has exposed the rot of modern Republicanism. For all his swashbuckling words, Williamson would never personally lynch a woman who’d had an abortion (or even her doctor) — for one thing, he hasn’t the ability even if he had the guts — but he’s diligently polished his persona as A Thinker Who Is Willing to Make the Bold Arguments…

Rob Beschizza, at BoingBoing:

I had a hunch: I thought (and said as much) that Williamson was hired explicitly because of what he had written about women, black kids and the poor. To well-off center-leaning liberals,[*] Williamson is the perfect post-Trump conservative: superficially literary, ostentatiously nasty, profoundly disgusted by the weak, yet (and this is super-duper important) opposed to the current president.

Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg explained… why he hired Williamson. Nailed it! Not only was Goldberg and The Atlantic aware of Williamson’s writing, they love it: “I recognized the power, contrariness, wit, and smart construction of many of his pieces. I also found him to be ideologically interesting”. Moreover, Goldberg was party to Williamson deleting his Twitter account, to ease his transition from the reactionary right to columnist at a liberal-ish magazine.

Goldberg’s rationale also makes clear something else, though: they (rather sanctimoniously) think that Williamson has “grown” beyond his National Review persona, and that his willingless to do so is part of why they hired him…

Goldberg implies that the things Williamson wrote were a kind of ideological clothing, flourishes that say nothing sincere about the man. His attitude will change as easily as a pair of socks–at least when the right foot is put forward under their masthead.

In other words, they simply don’t take what Williamson has said seriously…

[*]This is where I disagree with Beschizza: The Atlantic hasn’t been any kind of a “liberal” magazine since at least the Reagan era. It’s center-right when it’s not explicitly libertarian, and that, IMO, is why Goldberg hired Williamson. Of course they don’t take Williamson’s ideas seriously — neither does Williamson — but they like his style.

The wealthy right-leaning Media Village Leaders who fund the Atlantic (and its lesser cousins, from NRO down the feeding chain to Breitbart and Drudge) prefer their bigotries nicely worded, and their ugly prejudices prettily dressed. And Williamson is more than happy to give them the pretty!

Five pounds of manure in a ten-pound bag isn’t value for money… unless the purchaser wants very badly to keep from actually touching the shit they’re buying. For that, one wants plenty of slack in the packaging.

48 replies
  1. 1
    SectionH says:

    I don’t care about that.

    But, I still am on Fb. Every few days though, not daily. And oh yes, am I seeing memes being pushed at them. Mostly right now, the Census one. I’ve talked down 3 different friends tonight. It was like What? Why in the fuck are you worried about the Census? And basically, as soon as I just did a tiny bit of pushback, their heads cleared, and they were like, Oh Right, that’s what the Census is all about.

    This is really frightening.

  2. 2
    burnspbesq says:

    In a just world, Williamson would be unemployable.

    So, too, would Sam Harris. Ezra’s piece at Vox on Harris’ attempt to rehabilitate Charles Murray is really disturbing.

  3. 3
  4. 4
    Roger Moore says:

    So Goldberg is tacitly admitting that his job is to troll his readership, not to inform them. Seems like a good reason to cancel one’s subscription.

  5. 5
    SectionH says:

    @SectionH: ok, so one was about the California sues about shit in the proposed form (and go Becerra!) but the other 2 were just Oh the Census is Bad.

    Actually 2 of them were from WA. One was from Minnesota.

    Targeted much? Maybe it was just me.

  6. 6
    Betty Cracker says:

    Thank you for addressing this topic, Anne. I started and deleted a couple of posts on it because I was too angry to be snarky or even coherent.

    Williamson is scum, of course, but Goldberg earns the most contempt in this episode, IMO. He believes in “second chances,” he tells his staff. Meanwhile, how many women and non-white folks who are better writers and also non-genocidal, non-misogynist and non-racist are waiting for their first chance?

  7. 7
    NotMax says:

    prefer their bigotries nicely worded, and their ugly prejudices prettily dressed. And Williamson is more than happy to give them the pretty!

    Rhymes with Buckley.

  8. 8
    opiejeanne says:

    @Betty Cracker: Amen, Betty.

    Also, as one of the 25% I tend to take It personally when someone proposes to hang us. It does not matter that he lacks the means or the courage, it’s that he even thought such a thing, let alone wrote it down where other people could read it.

  9. 9
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    As a particular demon said on “The Good Place” last season: “That’s why I took the form of a 45-year-old white man — I can only fail up.”

  10. 10
    JustRuss says:

    I expect Kevin will explain that tweet himself when he gets here. He will also have the opportunity to explain other controversial aspects of his writing.

    Call me crazy, but shouldn’t this happen before they hire him? Does no one at The Atlantic own a phone? They can’t discuss this with him until he shows up?

  11. 11
    Jay says:

    The reason the MSM is freaking out about the conservatives slandering and attacking the kids,

    Is because for over 2 decades, the MSM hasn’t been covering the conservatives and conservative “thought”.

    Instead, they host Noonan, Brooks, Douthat, et. al, who all rep an imaginary form of Conservatism, that has never existed in the US.

    When the “real” conservatives speak, the MSM is horrified, because the have been doing their utmost best for decades to hide real conservatism from sight.

    Because Brooks et al are so far off from current conservatism, and are now irrelevant to conservatism, the MSM is now bringing in the RWNJ’s from the ‘Aughts who went never Trump, to fill out their stable of Conservative ratbags.

  12. 12
    different-church-lady says:

    Everyone’s so asshole-curious nowadays…

  13. 13
    cosima says:

    I subscribed to The Atlantic for a long time (10+ years) and gave a lot of subscriptions as gifts. I gave up on them back in the days of the McArgleBargle hire, which coincided with Sully’s anti-Obama mental decline — it was clear then that although they had a couple of wonderful writers on their staff (TNC springs to mind) that they were sliding down the both-sides-do-it slope. So, I have no subscription to cancel. However, I’ve noticed lately that both Democrats Abroad and Washington Monthly have been using their pieces to generate discussion, and I’ve jumped in to point out that they appear to be choosing nominally liberal positions, but then subverting those positions through pushing centrism. I don’t really know how to describe it. It’s a slow erosion of liberal principles &/or bedrock issues via moving those issues to the center. As a ‘liberal/progressive’ entity (nominally) they are using that position to undermine the liberal/progressive position(s), which makes them even more vile.

    I do hope this hire backfires on them. And that whoever/whatever is above f-face Goldberg gives him the boot. Or did the Mercers buy The Atlantic, and we haven’t learned about it? Who are the owners? I won’t buy or click or have anything to do with their content from here.

  14. 14
    cokane says:

    @burnspbesq: Harris is self-employed. And this is pretty unfair. He’s indefensibly wrong in this particular instance, but mainly because he’s ignorant of the actual science. He’s normally a decently thoughtful guy. That is a great piece by Klein too, well worth anyone’s time.

  15. 15
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Betty Cracker: And here I was afraid it wouldn’t be of general interest!…

  16. 16
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    Controlling interest in the magazine was sold 8 months ago to Laurene Powell Jobs. She’s the widow of Steve Jobs.

    She needs to be made aware of this disgusting clusterfuck.

  17. 17
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Betty Cracker: I too believe in 2nd chances…. But first people have to prove they are worthy of them.

  18. 18
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Anne Laurie: I’m hoping the Williamson hire blows up in Goldberg’s face so badly that he has to rescind the offer or Williamson announces he doesn’t want to become “a distraction” and opts to stay at NR. Probably not gonna happen, but if any hire deserves a subscriber and social media torch mob, this one does.

  19. 19
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @cokane: I have to disagree. Harris has always struck me as more than a bit of an asshole. And writing from a point of ignorance? That’s not what “thoughtful” people do. It’s what assholes do.

  20. 20
    cosima says:

    @Betty Cracker: Twitter torch mobs would help. Some FB torch mobs. How do we get the attention of the owner (David Koch has found at #17)?

  21. 21
    TriassicSands says:

    That’s not to say all conservatives are evil people!

    Evil themselves? Maybe not. At least not overtly. But supporters of evil? Yes. Enablers of evil? Definitely.

    Are they all racists? No, probably not. But they’re either racist or indifferent to racism. By some measures, some of them are “nice people.” But inside — deep down — there is a rottenness that stinks. Some are old timers who have been lifelong Republicans. As the party changed — less in its essential values than in its willingness to openly express those values, either through word or legislation — the old timers failed to pay attention. Their blindness may have been inadvertent or willful, but they are responsible for failing to see or being unwilling to acknowledge the putrid core of the 21st century GOP.

    Are they all evil? Maybe not. But they’re the next worst thing. Most, if not all, would have been very “good Germans.”

  22. 22
    Mary G says:

    I pretty much stick to Mother Jones these days, although I can’t get them to stop sending me the physical magazine.

  23. 23
    satby says:

    @TriassicSands: ” Good Germans” is exactly what I think of them, and it’s frightening to learn how many people are so lazy and indifferent to the world they live in that they go along thoughtlessly because “they’ve always voted Republican”.

  24. 24
    NotMax says:

    @Mary G

    Maybe there’s a local high school or college library that would accept the print copies as donations?

  25. 25
    p.a. says:

    … but he dresses so well and is charming at coctail parties…

  26. 26
    Baud says:

    I knew the Atlantic was turning skeezy.

  27. 27
    cokane says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: He doesn’t know he’s ignorant though and you’re kidding yourself if you’ve never made that mistake (or lying). I’m not exactly sure what Harris has said on topics like meditation, artificial intelligence, free will, Trump, former cult members, or even say physics that shows he’s an “asshole”. And that’s like more than half his podcasts right there.

    I get some folks are turned off by certain strident political stances. But he does great in depth interviews with people who are doing or have done very interesting work, from crazy immersive journalism, to cutting edge cancer treatment, to artificial meat creation. And you often don’t get to hear these people on a lot of regular news.

  28. 28
    Aimai says:

    @cokane: uh—Racism. All the sciency/meditation crap does not make up for the outright racism and islamophobia.

  29. 29
    cokane says:

    @Aimai: ah yes, the typical BJ commenter tactic, no actual argument just accuse people of the worst shit possible and hope something sticks.

    i mean his latest podcast is an indepth interview with a former neo-nazi who is now working to extract dudes from falling into that movement and harris last book was coauthored with a Muslim. But I guess those people are just ignorant of the special insight BJ commenters have into Harris?

  30. 30
    JR says:

    Goldberg is the editor at the Atlantic now?

    I didn’t agree with the guy on a lot but he was — at least in his writing — anti-racist. Guess that’s out the window.

  31. 31
    Gin & Tonic says:

    99.99% of Americans have never heard of Williamson and will never read a word he writes.

  32. 32
    Geeno says:

    Rochester meet-up yesterday was fun. A good time was had by all. Sadly, there are no proof of life pics as we’re all actually undead and therefore not truly alive. We don’t show on film anyway.
    Nice restaurant, lots of good conversation – 10/10 would attend again

  33. 33
    jonas says:

    @Roger Moore: I guess in today’s media environment “troll readers” = “get clicks/views”. That’s probably the underlying thinking here.

  34. 34
    laura says:

    @cokane: I get some folks are turned off by certain strident political stances.
    How about you take that mansplaining, tut tut little ladies, if you don’t want to be hung for your abortion, don’t have one, shut up while retrograde ignorant pseudo intellectuals are opining here and shaping the conventional dialog, because both sides shtick and fuck right off with that shite.
    Seriously, fuck the fuck off.

  35. 35
    Chip Daniels says:

    This does remind me of those stories we read about the rise of Hitler (yes, I’m going there) where most of the “respectable” media and old line aristocratic German power brokers didn’t take the Nazis seriously, but liked their brash style, and imagined them to be useful tools for other ends.
    Only to find out they were facing people who took it seriously, all of it.

    Williamson and Goldberg probably don’t take all their own words seriously, but there are forces within America who do.

  36. 36
    matt says:

    @cokane: Ah, the normally decent thoughtful guy who isn’t that way when it comes to racism.

  37. 37
    matt says:

    @Chip Daniels: It’s screamingly obvious that Williamson would be delighted to partake in any kind of Nazi regime you put on the menu.

  38. 38
    matt says:

    @TriassicSands: People are very stupid about this. They I guess have been conditioned to think that everyone in Germany during Nazi time was in an SS uni stepping on severed heads for kicks. Just about everyone was a ‘normal’ person who just so happened to support the regime. The Nazis were very, very popular once they took over and started conquering land. What they don’t get is – the GOP and Trump, this is a straight up fascist movement. These people would be signing us up for the Axis if it was around today.

  39. 39
    Chip Daniels says:

    @matt: Yep to all of this.

  40. 40
    rikyrah says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    He believes in “second chances,” he tells his staff. Meanwhile, how many women and non-white folks who are better writers and also non-genocidal, non-misogynist and non-racist are waiting for their first chance?

    Uh huh

  41. 41
    Raoul says:

    Cucker Tarlson was apparently upset last night that — ohhh, scan-dahl! — the Obama Admin had a few policies and programs in place to help women get college scholarships.


    Women. Getting educated. That’s not cool with America’s Most Constipated Looking TV Host. I used to think the ‘American Taliban’ stuff was a bit extreme an accusation. But being against women going to college is getting damn close to Taliban territory.

  42. 42
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    @Aimai: Thank you. Harris has a long track record of being Islamophobic as fuck, and a cheerleader for torture, civil rights denial etc., of Muslim-Americans thinly couched in a pretense of JAQ/thought-experiment. And when he gets called out on it he runs to hide behind the mythical PC-Police in the belief that he’s entitled to voice racist ideas without anyone calling it racist because something, something…Academic Freedom. Fuck him. Period.

  43. 43
    Washburn says:

    Somebody better tell that Ta-Nehisi Coates guy that he’s been working for racists.

  44. 44
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @cokane: Which it appear you are doing with this: “yes, the typical BJ commenter tactic, no actual argument just accuse people of the worst shit possible and hope something sticks.”

  45. 45
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @Geeno: Looking forward to Wednesday’s Buffalo meet up.

  46. 46
    Digital Amish says:

    @SectionH: I doubt it is worse than it was in 2010. You know, when that black guy was in office. I worked as a census taker in 2010. My recollection is that about 15 per cent of my interviewees were suspicious and/or non-cooperative and about 2 percent openly hostile. This was in a county in Western Washington that had just barely gone for Obama in 2008

  47. 47
    grubert says:

    @cokane: Disagree. Sam Harris’ attitudes on Islam are extreme, radical, and not level-headed at all. I find his arguments absurd, and his hatred over-the-top.

  48. 48
    grubert says:

    @Aimai: I’m kind of skeptical of Harris’ scientific creds. I know he has a Phd in neuro-whatever, so there’s a doctoral thesis, and I think one paper after that, but otherwise he’s been on the atheism circuit and then just a general public gadfly.

    I could be wrong, but he hardly seems like a heavyweight of science.

Comments are closed.