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Jonathan Chait on the Republican Slime Machine

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Nobody even half-sane and half-moral supports these people. Nobody.

Jonathan Chait:

The Washington Free Beacon has a report… that Chris Hughes is purging Jews from The New Republic…. The sensationalism of the article is structured in hilariously descending fashion, with each successive addition to the story draining its plausibility until nothing remains…. But the Free Beacon’s report offers a helpful window into… [how] millions of conservatives are held in a constant state of bug-eyed rage because they’re being manipulated for financial and ideological profit by right-wing pseudo-journalists.

The headline… “Hughes Drops Jews”… a prospect that would surely alarm, among others, his newly hired Jewish editor, Frank Foer…. As we read on, “masthead” turns out to mean the list of “contributing editors”…. As a rule, few contributing editors contribute, and no contributing editors edit…. Needless to say, none of this context is provided…. However, by the end of the fourth paragraph, after listing the purged Jewish contributing editors, the story notes by the by that one of them, Peter Beinart, “is the publisher of Open Zion, an anti-Zionist Daily Beast blog sponsored by the New America Foundation,” a development the story concedes, with hilarious understatement, to be “complicating the picture.” So it’s sort of a combined purge of Jews and anti-Zionists?

Then finally, by the end… “Seven additional writers have been dropped from the newly redesigned masthead. They include: Gregg Easterbrook, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Jeremy McCarter, Maggie Scarf, R.V. Thaw, Alan Wolfe, and Robert Wright." So the facts of the story turn out to be that a magazine has conducted some routine trimming of its unpaid, ceremonial list, and five of the writers deprived of their ceremonial title are Jewish and seven are not!… [W]e have gone from a purge of Jews to a report that half the writers removed from a titular list of former contributors are Jewish, and some of them hold hawkish positions on Israel, and one holds dovish views… the remaining proportion is at least as heavily Jewish…. This is not quite the publishing Kristallnacht the Free Beacon’s readers were promised.

The Washington Free Beacon is a smear sheet founded by Matthew Continetti, occasional contributor to the Weekly Standard and son-in-law of Weekly Standard editor William Kristol….

Continetti assails his opponents for their “hackneyed spin, routine misstatements, paranoid hyperbole” and open partisanship, and then, in the next sentence, promises to do the same thing…. There has always been a certain amount of bad reporting and shoddy argumentation… mostly it arises out of genuine ignorance or ideological fanaticism. The Free Beacon is an important innovator in the right-wing pseudo-journalism world… not the accidental by-product of ideological zeal but its stated goal.