Ancient History

Andrew Sullivan and Ezra Klein are going back and forth over Sullivan's decision to publish Betsy McCaughey's notorious take-down of Hillary's health care proposal in 1994. Ezra wrote, Sullivan "owes his readers a more honest accounting of what took place." And Sullivan responded. Klein responded. Andrew responded.

That article by that wing-nut had little to do with why Hillary's plan failed. Sullivan can't be blamed for that. But the discussion is fascinating for the insider look at the editorial decision process, especially in the old days when political journalism had so little competition. It's also interesting to see Sullivan question the wisdom of his past choices.

And in other news, Levi Johnston is going to pose for Playgirl.

5 thoughts on “Ancient History

  1. Those remarks from Sullivan are revealing, and not in a way that’s flattering for him, both to his view on journalism and his views on Hillary Clinton, views that seem rather more personal than professional.

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  2. I think it had an affect on why the plan failed. In the pre-internet days, the “even the liberal new republic” meant something.

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  3. From Sullivan’s second response, “I did discover that [McCaughey] was completely resistant to rational give-and-take. It was her way or the highway.”
    That gives the game away. Completely resistant to rational give-and-take should have been a warning; in fact, if should have been a warning complete with flashing red lights, clanging klaxons and, in all probability, an air raid siren test at noon. I’ve been a commissioning editor, and authors who are that resistant, who can’t rationally go back and forth on what’s in a story will cause public grief.
    Sullivan should have known better.
    From the rest of his explanation, it sounds like he did know better but rationalized his misgivings away. Running a bunch of rebuttals is no excuse for running a piece that’s wrong in the first place.

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