Is The Press Turning On Obama?

Michael Weiss · 07/24/08 05:40PM

John McCain made a pair of not-bad ads mocking the schoolgirlish moments of pundits talking about Barack Obama. Sure, it was hypocritical since McCain's no stranger to favorable press — he famously joked that reporters constituted his "base." Also politically dangerous for the same reason. But if he gets away with tweaking the Fourth Estate it's because he offers the kind of access other pols don't. This is why Jonathan Chait and Jacob Weisberg may not vote for him but still kind of admire the guy. Obama, however, is the anointed presidential hopeful (if he doesn't say so himself), and he clearly has more to lose if the media's infatuation with him ends. Gabriel Sherman of the New Republic has a good piece explaining how the bloom's already gone off the rose. Obama's press liaison Robert Gibbs is a dick, and his other handlers are prickly and micromanagerial. Key evidence: The Times' Adam Nagourney and Megan Thee wrote a story about how the candidate had failed to bridge the race gap. This precipitated a gentle question to Nagourney from the Obama campaign, which he answered. He then awoke the next morning to find himself attacked in an eight-point press release issued by Obama's team and leaked to Talking Points Memo and Marc Ambinder. "I've never had an experience like this with this campaign or others," Nagourney tells Sherman. "I thought they crossed the line. If you have a problem with a story I write, call me first. I'm a big boy. I can handle it. But they never called. They attacked me like I'm a political opponent." So I guess Nagourney's less of a fan. True, McCain went out of his way to antagonize Elisabeth Bumiller of the Times for probing his red-meat conservative credentials (didn't Kerry offer him the VP slot?). But again, this wasn't schema-altering. Who didn't already know McCain could go from Mogwai to Gremlin when his status as a Maverick was either questioned or affirmed by the wrong inquiring mind? With his wafer-thin lead in the polls (don't email me, Gibbs!), Obama can scarcely afford to keep a reputation like this:

Literary Light Heavyweight Battle About to Commence

Pareene · 07/17/08 11:06AM

In a piece ostensibly about how terrible Damien Hirst is (breaking!), New Republic literary editor and noted crank Leon Wieseltier declares that there is no such thing as "rock bottom," that there is never a point at which things can't get worse, and offers as proof of this maxim the existence of Christopher Hitchens. Allow him to explain:

'New Republic' Editor Takes Least Surprising Position Ever

Pareene · 03/25/08 04:43PM

New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier is unhappy that the New York Times printed an article about how sharia isn't so bad but they'd never print an article about how awesome the Torah is. We weren't crazy about the New York Times running that Styles piece about hipster farmers but you don't see us writing 1,000 words on it, Leon. [TNR]

Rest of Media Shamed 'Times' Into Running McCain Story

Pareene · 02/21/08 04:05PM

The New Republic's story-of-the-story of the New York Times' story of how John McCain might've fucked lobbyist Vicki Iseman is up, and, as could probably be predicted, it's the story of Bill Keller being a total pussy and not letting his reporters go with all the awesome juicy stuff they were totally sure they had nailed down, provable or not. It's also the story of how now, basically, the standard for publication at the Times has slipped measurably closer to, say, ours.

Lee Siegel: The Internets Is Ruining Us All

Sheila · 02/15/08 04:01PM

Writer and "cultural critic" Lee Siegel went on the Daily Show to promote his "I hates teh Internets" book, Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob. Lee is also known for the little anonymous-commenting stunt he pulled on his own essays for the New Republic. He thinks we are just spending way too much time on these infernal machines, and we don't really even know who we're "chatting with!"

We Had No Idea War Zones Could Mess With The Memoirist's Mind

Maggie · 01/22/08 03:09PM

Tinker, tailor, soldier, fabulist alert! The credibility of A Long Way Gone, the bestselling Farrar, Strauss and Giroux memoir from child soldier Ishmael Beah has been called into question by an Australian couple. It seems Beah may have spent a mere three months-not two years-kidnapped, drugged, running for his life, and watching his friends and entire family be raped and hacked to death. The outrage! Listen here, Ishmael, there will be no getting mixed up, we don't care how much brown-brown they made you take or how heavy your AK-47 was. Our rules about memoirs are very serious.

Bloggers Rewrite History, Says Writer Who Wrote Own Reviews

Sheila · 01/17/08 11:02AM

Much like bloggers, Stalin "rewrote history, made anonymous accusations, hired and elevated hacks and phonies, ruined reputations at will, and airbrushed suddenly unwanted associates out of documents and photographs," explains New Republic editor Lee Siegel. And that's only one choice bit from the Times' review of his book, Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob. For his part, Siegel refers to his praiseful anono-commenting on his very own essays as "my rollicking misadventures in the online world." Now that's re-writing history! (Click for the work of Siegel's former anonymous avatar, "Sprezzatura.")

Are We Having Fun Yet? Lee Siegel and the Internets

Sheila · 01/14/08 03:51PM

"There needs to be a [late, influential New Yorker film critic] Pauline Kael of the Internet. People need to write critically about this thing," says New Republic editor Lee Siegel. (As you might remember, he was once suspended for a little stunt where he commented anonymously on his own essays, via the Internet). He's basically unimpressed by the entire Web and wrote a book, Against the Machine, on this topic. "What the Internet's doing is professionalizing everyone's amateuristic impulses. Everybody wants to jump into the big time and be recognized ... they're not taking the time to just have fun." Is this true? Discuss! Also, if anybody would like to apply for the new position of "Pauline Kael of the Internet," please send your resume our way! [NY Mag]

What's up with Gabe Sherman?

Nick Denton · 01/02/08 05:41PM

When Portfolio lost Gabe Sherman to the New Republic, the troubled Conde Nast business magazine claimed the young reporter would remain as a contributing editor. (At this point, is anybody not a contributing editor to Joanne Lipman's free-spending title?) Portfolio, which has lost a slew of writers despite lavish contracts, seemed to save face, at a price. Which would make it embarrassing if, as we're hearing, Portfolio's golden boy hadn't in fact come to terms. Some magazines are so toxic that they can't even pay people to do nothing. Hear anything?

abalk · 09/20/07 01:45PM

The current issue of the New Republic clocks in at a trim 56 pages. Hmm.

You Are Not As Helpful As These Commenters

Doree Shafrir · 08/24/07 01:40PM

Some commenters are just so gosh-darn helpful in relaying the kind of information that we absolutely need to know to, as they say, move the story forward, that they deserve an award: the Helpful Critter award. Oh, and while we're at it, we've decided to execute people whose comments this week make them decidedly Unhelpful Critters. Go back from whence you came!

Doree Shafrir · 08/22/07 11:40AM

In our item yesterday about the New Republic's sad number of ads in its latest issue, we overlooked the fact that last month the magazine hired former National Journal Corporate Advertising Director Sarah Kuhn, and a couple weeks ago hired former National Journal Advertising Director Holly Maine to beef up ad pages. Neither has started yet, but they've got their work cut out for them when they do. We'll be watching!

'New Republic' Full Of Pugnacity, Mendacity

abalk · 08/15/07 11:00AM

Leonine New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier comments on the New Yorker in the wake of that publication's hiring of TNR book critic James Wood: "It would be hard to comment on the difference between The New Republic's audience and The New Yorker's audience without sounding vain and snobbish. The pieces we publish, they're more argumentative. They're more agitated and more agitating. They make more fights. They're more scholarly. We allow a touch of wildness." Also a touch of bullshit!

Doree Shafrir · 08/01/07 02:40PM

We understand that the "dark week" at the New Republic was "long-planned," and in any case, "it's not so dark," since half the office is there. (So again, we wonder: paid or unpaid?) But there might be a very compelling reason for the involuntary vacation: Editor "Frank Foer is expecting child at any moment," a source tells us. Aw! How cute! Paternity leave! Uncle Jonathan Safran!

Why Is The 'New Republic' Going Dark?

Doree Shafrir · 07/31/07 03:50PM

A meandering, unsigned note in this week's New Republic informs readers that the magazine is going on vacation, and that the magazine will be published three weeks from now, instead of the "customary two." Err, okay! This raises a few questions for us, some of which are related to the fact that this week's issue is a scarily thin 48 pages.

'TNR' Blogger Reveals Himself, But 'Weekly Standard' Not Impressed

Doree Shafrir · 07/26/07 03:05PM

Today, the New Republic's Iraq soldier-blogger revealed his true identity—he's Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp, of the Alpha Company, 1/18 Infantry, Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division. (Questions had been raised as to whether the blogger was actually a soldier, and also whether the gruesome events he described were true.) So that's a huge relief for 'TNR' editor Frank Foer and his new online editor Ben Wasserstein, we're sure! But the Weekly Standard, those fun-loving conservative bastards, aren't letting TNR off the hook quite yet.

Is 'The New Republic' Lying About More Than Pagecount?

abalk · 07/24/07 04:45PM

Does the New Republic have another fabulist on staff? Editors at The Weekly Standard—who, as full-time administration supporters, know from b.s. military dispatches—claim that the magazine's 'Baghdad Diarist' (allegedly an American soldier in Iraq) is a fraud. TNR editor Franklin Foer has launched an investigation—how could he not, what with all the stories Stephen Glass made up for the magazine in the '90s—but is generally supportive of the diarist, noting helpfully that he's pretty sure that the guy is at least a soldier. Maybe the investigation can run in the book and bulk it up those 80 pages they promised but never delivered.

Doree Shafrir · 07/18/07 01:15PM

This week's New Republic is 56 pages. Holding steady!

Doree Shafrir · 06/29/07 02:13PM

The New Yorker picks up New Republic senior editor Ryan Lizza as its Washington correspondent, replacing Jeffrey Goldberg, who went to the Atlantic. Meanwhile, New York associate editor Ben Wasserstein (son of NYM owner Bruce) will head to the New Republic as its online editor. (Confidential to Ben: Please put an end to those painful Frank Foer videos. Thanks!) [WWD]