Jonathan Chait posted two pieces on his shared Daily Intelligencer blog earlier today on the topic of the mass resignations at The New Republic ("TNR") and the related problematic notion of marrying good journalism to for-profit "new media" efforts. The pieces are as follows (links embedded):
A Eulogy for The New Republic
The New Republic and the Imperfect Media Market
The first notes the mass exodus of at least 45 (!) senior writers and contributing editors (including Chait himself) at TNR, a storied century-old publication. The second points out the neo-liberal ideology underpinning the incredibly annoying Ezra Klein's philosophy about journalism as internet-based "new media" for-profit commercial venture.
As Chait alludes to in the first piece, what Hughes and his thoroughly awful CEO side-kick, the shitty Guy Vidra, are trying to do involves turning the specialized niche publication with its long-form journalism into a "a digital media ... tech company" and, along the way, spouting a bunch of corporate bullshit speak about "vertical integration" (a term used incorrectly) embodying the "straddle generation".
It's the sort of stuff you'd expect James K. Glassman to spout rather than at TNR.
A list of just a portion of the contributing editors who resigned from TNR in a tweet sent out by Ryan Lizza this morning. To be clear, I don't believe all of these people are in the same ideological camp. I mean, I see hardcore neocons and neolibs such as, Robert Kagan? Anne Applebaum??, respectively
This mass resignation of basically the entire magazine staff was a sort of tsunami-like follow-through initiated by the abrupt the resignations of both editor Franklin Foer and long-time TNR fixture and literary editor Leon Wieseltier as months of roiling tension dramatically erupted.
This is all happening thanks to the atomizing, money-fixated, Wall Street financier posterior-focused obsession of its homosexual libertarian-leaning publisher, 31-year old Chris Hughes, a man who made his billions on frickin' Facebook (i.e., social media) and his Yahoo sidekick, Guy Vidra.
Lloyd Grove over at The Daily Beast has a good summary of the situation (link embedded): Facebook Prince Purges The New Republic: Inside the Destruction of a 100-Year-Old Magazine. The photoshopped picture directly above is taken from that article.
Chris Hughes (left) and his homosexual husband Sean Eldridge, who lost a disastrous race for New York's 19th District by a humiliating 19 points on Nov. 4th.
As a gay man myself of a totally different political persuasion, I can't think of a worse combination than a gay libertarian 31-year old billionaire who wants to turn a journalistic institution into a profit-making "digital media company" obsessed with online "hits" and "eyeballs." This is about as horrible a combination of characteristics in the corporate world as I can think. You have no idea, Reader, what that kind of person is like (and I'm talking about minus the billionaire part).
Oh, yes, FYI, Hughes and I have the same birthday -- except I'm 14 years to the day older.
UPDATED 12:34AM 12/9/2014
I want to clarify two points.
First of all, I think I might have rather overstated Hughes' libertarianism. He is, in fact, much more of a classic neo-liberal and his Silicon Valley mindset embraces that rather than (as sometimes happens with these multimillion / billionaire internet types) a morally offensive libertarianism.
This piece by Luke Brinker on Salon.com captures it accurately. Brinker is citing a piece by Dana Milbank that should be read in its own right -- and raises the second clarification: Hughes is not so much a vulgarian but a dilettante (the latter was one of the choice words Milbank had for Hughes).
To be clear, in my title to this blog entry, I was looking for a pithy word to describe the destruction he caused as a social media / internet type, and that was all I could come up with.
Milbank's piece -- in which he calls Hughes "a dilettante and a fraud" -- is totally worth a read (link embedded): The New Republic is dead, thanks to its owner, Chris Hughes.
As for Brinker's piece, here is a relevant excerpt:
"Hughes' statement reflects the fundamental bankruptcy of a liberal cast of mind that holds that enlightenment on social issues is the defining feature of modern liberalism; economic injustices and inequities are secondary or tertiary concerns, if they are concerns at all. This liberalism -- more precisely, neoliberalism -- makes its peace with the plutocracy. Marriage equality and reproductive freedom are ripe for public debate, but you dare not question the underlying economic order in the U.S. Tweaks around the edges are fine -- perhaps the wealthy could stand to pay a little more in income taxes -- but let's not go overboard."
That sums it up well -- and the Washington Consensus crowd's own neo-liberalism.
END OF UDPATE
Having said that, Hughes is actually the PLATONIC embodiment of perfection for awful Wall-P.
"Eh. Eh. Eheheh. All intrinsic value in society is measured by that which has financial value. That which earns money is in fact the highest good there is. Therefore, we conclude that which has the highest monetary value is the most good --"
Oh, shut-up, Wall-P, you little corporate stooge. Who pushed your buttons? I think I hear Staff calling.
In the second piece, Chait responds to Ezra Klein's piece about how the magazine must change to make money because, implicitly, a profitable journalistic outfit is by definition good and one that isn't is not good. He does so not so much by taking issue with what Klein writes but the headline of the article* and the philosophy it embodies and recalling other things Klein has said on the topic.
*Recall that Klein is the editor-in-chief of Vox.com, so the headline certainly reflects his thinking, not that of some copyeditor.
"That sort of market fundamentalism is largely associated with the political right. You can find traces of it on the center-left among the winners of the new media economy, like many otherwise-liberal winners of other sectors of the new economy. They implicitly associate success with virtue. They may understand that an institution like The New Republic creates externalities that are not captured through market value, but this factor does not intrude upon their model."
Let me just add that this atomizing, Wall Street ass-kissing neo-liberal bullshit is the flip side of neoconservative warmongering and everything wrong with the corporate capitalist overclass that runs our society.
It IS the embodiment of Fred Hiatt's Washington Consensus "Gang of 500" crowd including Sebastian "Free Trade For China and Obliterate the American Working Class" Mallaby and Benji "Drone Everybody" Wittes.
And it is morally loathsome, not to mention precisely why Democrats will keep losing until the end of time.
As for Vox.com, I actually do read that online publication and sometimes find the pieces very engaging.
This one today -- on a topic I intend to devote MUCH blogging time this summer -- made me happy.
OK, that's all for now.
I am home this Friday night having just finished a few loads of laundry. This follows a post-work jaunt to the Columbia Heights Target to buy a new quilt, two pillow cases, a 10-pair of socks, and 4-pack of boxer briefs. Oh, and this frickin' entry went on way too long. I'm going to go to No. 9 in a bit.