Monday, June 15, 2009

Hitchens on Iran

Hitchens gets straight to the point in a typical (to him) piece that's brilliant, difficult to read, and likely to turn off anyone who doesn't already agree with him.

He does manage to get in the best quote, thus far, though not directly attributable to him:

For a flavor of the political atmosphere in Tehran, Iran, last week, I quote from a young Iranian comrade who furnishes me with regular updates:

I went to the last major Ahmadinejad rally and got the whiff of what I imagine fascism to have been all about. Lots of splotchy boys who can't get a date are given guns and told they're special.

This appears to be be the sum total of original Slate content on the revolution (or smackdown of potential revolutionaries) that is currently happening in Iran. It comes up in their summaries of other publications, but no analysis. I suppose that American Health Care and Japanese "Grass Eating Men" are more important anyway.

I'm sure they can fit it into the Kinsley template (delayed effects man!):
Human civilization is threatened by [insert headline issue here]. This is a problem exclusively caused by the Bush administration because they are stupid and evil. Using that as an assumption, I will now prove to you that the Bush administration is stupid, evil, and to blame for [insert headline issue here].


ish said...

That's just in the three days, not counting the Hitchens piece. And your criticism also profoundly misunderstands the point of Slate, which is a news opinion magazine that publishes research and news about the world mainly in reaction to public events. Slate doesn't report the news, it reacts to it. That's it mandate and the way it has always operated. And I can guarantee on top of the many original stories on the Iranian elections cited above that you apparently couldn't be troubled to look at on the front page, there will be 3 more published by tomorrow.

I know you seem to really want to hate Slate for some irrational "Liberals are evil" reason, but I don't get why you would ascribe your failure to read the front page, and a complete misunderstanding of the purpose of the site to be some sort of intentional media blackout.

ish said...

I also liked the Hitchens piece, though I also agreed with him before I began reading (which doesn't happen often for either of us, I think).

ish said...

Your post also ignores the fact that Slate publishes Foreign Policy magazine which publishes highly in-depth articles and also features a half-dozen well-known bloggers on foreign policy who have all put up several posts (Drezner, Walt, etc.) in the last three days. Slate itself only has 3 people who write on Foreign events and Foreign policy on a regular basis (Applebaum, Hitchens, and Kaplan), all of whom have already writen one article about the election and Kaplan will likely have another out tomorrow or Wednesday. I'd also expect Dickerson on how it affects domestic politics, Shafer on how much CNN and the The Times suck, and probably something else.

Since joining the Post and having FP magazine come under their umbrella, they tend to direct a lot of that traffic there.

So I'm trying to find some sort of evidence that makes this post look less dumb, but no luck so far. I suppose one could argue they aren't doing a good enough job linking over to that site, but that's a pretty weak criticism compared to intentionally ignoring it. I'll keep looking.

ish said...

I also realized from the start that despite the fact you forgot to tag it as such this is an "ish-baiting" post nonetheless. So I'm aware that part of the reason this post is so dumb might be to make me lose my shit. In which case, congratulations.

ish said...

And yes, this is more fun than Morse Code.

ish said...

Holy crap, is Slate reading your blog comments? Now there *is* a link on the front page to one of the many Iran posts from FP.

The Really Sarcastic Weasel said...

You might read something into the fact that I still check Slate...

I'm pretty annoyed at what appears to be a total failure of the MSM to report on widespread riots and a desperate government in what is for us the most sensitive country in the world. I understand that it was a sham election to begin with, but the people are motivated, the people are in the streets, and the people are being beaten, arrested, and killed begging someone from the outside to notice them.

I'm ragging on Slate because I expected them to care.

I'm not terrible interested in the three articles from before the election, before people started dying. The Applebaum piece does not actually address the "result", just a blurb at the end. The Rezaian piece looked like one of their media summary articles so I didn't click it. My bad.

The Really Sarcastic Weasel said...

There is an a posteriori Kaplan piece out now.

The Really Sarcastic Weasel said...

Not actually Ish baiting, more angry.

I've ignored the FP as I've ignored all of the ancillarySlate mags after doubleX and The Big Money turned out to be so bad.

ish said...

The thing is, they were interested *before people started dying*. And even went to the trouble to find a journalist currently in Iran to send back dispatches *before people started dying*. To me, this shows a great degree of care.

And as I said before, their purpose isn't to *report* the news, but the analyze and react to it. If you just read
Slate to find out what's happening in the world, you'll find out everything a day late. You can criticize that, but its the reason they have "Today's Papers", because they intend to be a day late. Kaplan didn't respond to the North Korean nuclear tests on Sunday/Monday until Wednesday. This, too, is a kind of care, in that they publish when they find the story and are ready to say something useful.

I agree that the MSM response has been disgusting. But thus far, I think Slate has acquitted itself quite well, especially since its not really designed to immediately respond to stories.

ish said...

Never bothered with "Big Money" but I've found some pretty good stuff in doublex. The segmentation kinda pisses me off, but I understand why it's necessary, given limited space on the front page to properly showcase all the content. And my interest in economics is fulfilled by Cowen and Wilkinson, so an occasional piece from Dan Gross is plenty, which makes keeping the Big Money content separate handy for me.

The Really Sarcastic Weasel said...

Of course the purpose of Slate is analysis. But I've seen them do it in near real time before.

Until Saturday, this was a story about a sham "election" in a fascist country, the result of which won't really matter. After Saturday, it became a mystery as to why the regime in charge would bother to regime elections, why they would do it so utterly transparently, and why there are hundreds of thousands of people in the streets because a meaningless election was stolen.

I'm disappointed in every news/commentary organization that did not step up its coverage since Saturday. NPR, the BBC, The Daily Dish, and Huffington Post (normally, bleck) have all ramped up. I'm picking on Slate for two reasons: 1.) I really expected a mini flood of (possibly interesting) commentary on this topic, perhaps not Andrew Sullivan level flood, but more certainly more than they had, and 2.) I wanted to post the quote from Hitchens.

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