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Slacker Friday | The Nation

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Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman

Well-chosen words on music, movies and politics, with the occasional special guest.

Slacker Friday

My new “Think Again” column is called "A 'Very, Very Bad' Article" and it is about the comical, but enormously worrisome reaction to Michael Hastings’ brilliant takedown of ex-General McChrystal. It's here.

I did a Daily Beast post for this morning, which, in their inimitable fashion, they named, “Sock it to Em! Obama,” and that’s here.

My new Nation column, “A Conspiracy So Immense” is about the nuttiness surrounding the firing of Dave Weigel and the end of Journolist.

Also this: on April 30, 2010, Columbia University hosted a conference on opinion journalism in American intellectual history. The conference was organized by Eric Wakin, the Lehman Curator for American History at Columbia University, and featured several notable speakers and panelists, including Victor Navasky, Michael Kazin, Andi Zeisler, Eric Alterman, Stanley Crouch and more. Video of the entire conference is embedded here

CHARLES PIERCE NEWTON, MA.
Hey Doc:
"You're going to Sodom and Gomorrah, but what do you care?/Ain't nobody there would want to marry your sister." 

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "All Kinds Of Crazy" (Abita Blues) -- I don't need any of that Bud Light Lime to bring out how much I love New Orleans. 

Part The First: Ol' Squint seems to be off the reservation a tad these days. However, Clio, the Muse of History, demands that we point out that, as hard as he may have been working, Newt always managed to find time to work on his Comely Aide hobby. 

Part The Second: Have I mentioned that the GOP in Alabama has a congressional candidate who is insane? Hang in there for the whole commercial, by the way. Very much like "Layla," it's not over when you think it is. However, this is just very funny.

Part The Third: The least surprising thing about the Dave Weigel rumpus is the involvement in it of Tucker Carlson, who bravely published Weigel's private e-mails, just as he once bravely put my private e-mail address out on the air during The Spin Room, one of Carlson's several failed television projects. Luckily, this being Tucker Carlson on television, almost nobody saw it, but one person who did sent along the first death threat of my daughter's life. (To be fair, the guy said he was going to take us all out.) Of course, when a mere blogger did something to him, Carlson whined like a scalded schoolgirl. When you're walking into the National Press Club in D.C., Tucker Carlson is pretty much what you have to scrape off your shoe.

Part The Fourth: For my money, the only guy we should be listening to right now. Well, him and Krugman.

Part The Fifth: So what do we care if BP ruins the entire Caribbean? There's a new ocean coming for them to despoil. And in only 10,000 years!

Part The Penultimate: Holy crap! Fired at last from Salon, which installed a surveillance camera on which he was filmed passed out at his desk with a half-pint of Virginia Gentleman in his teeth while crazy people came in the windows and started posting things on the Intertoobz, Waldo The Drunk Security Guard apparently has landed on his feet with a job at the NYT. I mean, really now: "American actresses have desexualized themselves, confusing sterile athleticism with female power. Their current Pilates-honed look is taut and tense — a boy’s thin limbs and narrow hips combined with amplified breasts." Woofers or tweeters, Camille, sweetie? 

Part the Ultimate: As it happens, about 13 years ago, while working on a profile for a national magazine, I ran into something of the same situation vis a vis Tiger Woods that Michael Hastings ran into as regards his infinitely more important reporting of Stanley McChrystal's intemperate remarks, the ones that have bunched the undies of so many of our elite reporters. FWIW, and speaking from my own experience, I think Hastings has acted throughout with impeccable professionalism, which is sadly lacking in almost all of his critics. This was a freakish situation. A commanding general and his staff were forced to take a bus ride from Paris to Germany because of a volcano in Iceland. At any point prior to departure, McChrystal could have told Hastings, "Look, dude. We're going to knock a few back on the trip because why-the-hell-not? Anything said on the bus is off the record. Period." At which point, Hastings could have agreed, or he could have taken another bus. (He also could have agreed, and published the remarks anyway, but that would be fundamentally dishonest, and he has not shown any predilection for that.) McChrystal is not five-years old and he did not arrive in Afghanistan on a turnip truck. Unlimited access means unlimited access. Period. In such settings, there is no such goddamn animal as informal off-the-record.

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