All this talk about how we need to treat the successful better was interesting to me in part because the idea of what success means in the media is so variable today, e.g. Megan McArdle is a success because she got David Bradley to give her a position at his money-losing magazine. Here’s Justin Fox, a writer I normally like a great deal, talking about what a great success Marty Pertez has been (as the owner of The New Republic); he gives no evidence other than that Eric Alterman likes it.
The New Republic now has a circulation of 60,000. It has been sold and resold and moved to a biweekly schedule. I realize it’s a tough media environment but National Review, which is a pretty similar magazine, has nearly four times the circulation. Harper’s and Mother Jones (which aren’t that similar to TNR), also have nearly four times the circulation. And Harper’s and MoJo doesn’t have their reporters whoring themselves on Joe Scar and Tweety every damn day.
The New Republic is beloved by certain elite media types because its particular brand of smarmy, neoliberal Harvard dining hall bullshit is similar to conversations they themselves had. It has become an enormous failure, intellectually, morally, and financially.
This is the game that is always played. Liberals have to respect the success in viewership that Fox has. They have to! Or they just don’t understand Murka! And when some nutjob husband of an heiress decides to turn a once liberal magazine into a Liebercrat rag, driving circulation into five figures in the process, they have to respect that too, or they’re intellectually dishonest hacks who don’t enjoy puzzling through complex arguments or whatever.
Remember this, peasants: Marty Peretz works harder than you ever will.