First things first, we have a new Think Again column herecalled “Spying on Journalists? Why the Silence?” and a new Nation column called “The Defamation League,” here, whichaddresses, among other things, smears against Bill Moyers.
Second, there’s my more detailed response to The New Republic‘s JonathanChait. It’s long, but responding to slurs takes much more time thanmaking them in the first place:
I’ll admit it. I spent a little while on Tuesday wondering why The NewRepublic‘s Jonathan Chait wants people to think he’s stupid. I don’timagine Chait really is stupid. I’ve admired much of his work in thepast. But he is clearly willing to pretend when it suits his purpose.If you think “stupid” overly harsh, then perhaps “dishonest” would bemore appropriate.
He writes, here:
The Nation‘s Eric Alterman recently wrotethat in the United States, “right-wing Jewish organizations andneoconservative pundits dominate nearly all Middle East discussion.”
This is a pretty radical claim, one I don’t agree with–recent coverstories in both Time and Newsweek have reflected the J Street line–but one for which you could produce at least some evidence. The sumtotal of the evidence he did produce were three blog posts appearing in,respectively, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard and Commentary.
Let’s begin at the beginning: In the above paragraph, Chait purposelycut the qualifier in that sentence which began, here.”Within the mainstreammedia punditocracy,” because, as I mentioned here, “reporting on Israel/Palestine has become much fairer to thecomplexities of the conflict during the past decades; the punditocracyremains mired in the McCarthyite-style accusations of Chait’s boss,Marty Peretz and his mini-me James Kirchick.” Next, Chait insists thatthe three blog items I quoted in my column provide “the sum total of theevidence [I] did produce.” Now Chait knows quite well he is describinga column that was necessarily under a thousand words. He knows that thefact of conservative domination of the debate was not even the point ofthe column. I was merely giving examples of the tendency before leadingto my larger point, which was the desire of those like Peretz, JamesKirchick and Commentary‘s Noah Pollak, to try to avoid debate by usingschoolyard insults against those with whom they disagree for the purposeof delegitimizing their points of view. To say that the “sum total” ofmy proof is lacking is to betray a complete misunderstanding of a) whata column is, and; b) what the column in question was addressing. SinceChait writes a column himself, and presumably knows better, well, youcan draw your own conclusion.