One would think that the magazine that unleashed Stephen Glass (and Ruth Shalit) on the world would be more careful before empowering yet another young person with no journalistic credentials to make fantastic allegations merely because they happen to be consistent with the prejudices of the people who run it. But you would be wrong.
Yes, I know, The New Republic is a magazine without editorial standards in matters relating to Arabs and Jews. This is, sadly, unavoidable. It has long been owned, and is still controlled by a man with no literary or journalistic talent who owes his entire career to his ability to disperse his second ex-wife's inherited fortune.
Everybody who wants to work there has to accept his racism and hysterics. But as I said, Marty Peretz owned the place, and since he lost it owing to bad stock investments, he still gets to run it on other people's dime. Nothing to be done about that.
But what about Marty's "Mini-Me," young James Kirchick, who works as Peretz's personal assistant? Surely just because the boy happens to work for Marty doesn't make him untouchable. And yet he continues to embarrass and shame his colleagues on the magazine's website and in its pages virtually every time he appears there. Kirchick acts as Peretz's id, attacking those who are more talented writers and thinkers than both of them -- and who isn't? -- but whom Peretz is afraid to engage in open discussion. Thing is, the guy is so incompetent, so transparent in his water-carrying, that all he does is embarrass the colleague who must share a masthead with him and see the brand of a once great magazine continually besmirched.
Do I exaggerate? You be the judge. Kirchick writes here:
The attempt by people like Ben-Ami, Alterman, Yglesias, Klein et.al. to portray their advocacy of unconditional Israeli negotiations with Iran and Hamas, unconditional Israeli territorial concessions, the Palestinian "right of return," (among other extreme positions) as having any truck within the mainstream of Jewish, American or Israeli opinion, while also having the gall to allege that anyone remotely to their right is an extremist, is something that psychologists call "projection."
Well, excuse me, young man, I've never taken any position at all on Israeli negotiations with Iran or Hamas, the Palestinian right of return, or even "unconditional" territorial concessions, much less advocate for them. You are simply making that up. My guess is that neither have Matthew Yglesias or Ezra Klein, but they can speak for themselves.
So Kirchick is accorded what remains of the good name of The New Republic simply to invent positions and attribute them to people who happen to have criticized his boss, Marty Peretz, at some point. And apparently there is no one at the magazine willing to take responsibility for calling him on it.
The rest of his post is similarly delusional and McCarthyite. Again, just to be clear, no one in their right mind could care less about what this young man thinks about anything. If he were blogging under his own name -- or stuck to John Podhoretz's Commentary, where he belongs -- he would be justly ignored. My point, rather, is how the many talented and important writers associated with The New Republic allow this institution to be continually dishonored by his presence there, writing things that no sane person would support and appear to emanate entirely from his fevered imagination.
And by the way, TNR, I'd like a correction.
To read the rest of today's Altercation, click here.