Longing for the Days of Megan McArdle

You thought McArdle was as low as The Atlantic could go? Oh no. Not even close. How about allowing Scientology to write a “Sponsor Content” that looks just like a news article but is in fact a self-written story about the awesomeness of Scientology leader David Miscavige?

Wow. If this isn’t rock bottom, I don’t know what is.

Also, make sure you read the comment section. I’m sure it’ll soon be inundated with people ripping the magazine. But right now, it’s clearly a coordinated campaign by Scientology to flood the comment section with laudatory comments. It’s all very special.

157 comments on this post.
  1. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    Ralph Waldo Emerson would be so proud!

  2. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    I meant to add: the comments on this “Sponsor Content” are particularly hilarious: one “Really, Atlantic?” comment and then a dozen or so expressions of how exciting Scientology and Miscavage are.

  3. Tod Westlake:

    Have you read the comments? Holy shit!

  4. Erik Loomis:

    Those are amazing comments!

  5. Robert Farley:

    Damn. I get about ten “We will pay to post content” e-mails/week. Looks like the Atlantic has set a precedent that I can dig…

  6. Erik Loomis:

    For the right price, I think we can run some self-sponsored content from the coal or timber industries.

  7. Vance Maverick:

    Or the Air Force?

  8. joe from Lowell:

    I find those comments really inspiring!

  9. Robert Farley:

    Incidentally, let me draw everyone’s attention to the giant sidebar ad for Max Boot’s latest book…

  10. Jon Hendry:

    All of a sudden I want to jump on the cans. If only there were someone around to audit me!

  11. Leeds man:

    I was gonna say “it’s just an ad”, but most ads don’t have comment sections. Actually, not a bad idea.

  12. CaptBackslap:

    I loved it! Better than Cats! I will see it again and again!

  13. rea:

    Or maybe just some guy named Gault, who wants to explain to the world who he is . . .

    “For twelve years, you have been asking: Who is John Galt? This is John Galt speaking. I am the man who loves his life. I am the man who does not sacrifice his love or his values. I am the man who has deprived you of victims and thus has destroyed your world, and if you wish to know why you are perishing-you who dread knowledge-I am the man who will now tell you . . .”

  14. Erik Loomis:

    The NRA.

  15. tonycpsu:

    Wow, the Scientology Freeper Brigade is something to behold. CoS must have sent out the bat signal as soon as they realized the first few comments were derogatory.

  16. Scanner:

    Hobby for those with free time/no life: the “up/down” tallies on the comment section update in real time. I’ve seen one negative comment go from 580 to 640 “upvotes” just while typing this.

  17. joe from Lowell:

    Man, Boott looks hawt in a tee-shirt.

  18. Random Atlantic commenter:

    I’m not brainwashed by the church in anyway involved with Scientology Erik but as someone who has also been persecuted you shouldn’t be so fast to cast stones with the mob against Scientology! The Germans haven’t always been right you know!

  19. CaptBackslap:


  20. Paul Campos:

    On a totally and completely unrelated note I just saw American Psycho for the first time (13-year-spoiler alert)


    Is the answer to the question of whether or not all the carnage was in Bateman’s head supposed to be ambiguous? What’s with his encounter with the lawyer near the end who mistakes him for “Davis?” That made no sense. Is the book worth reading?

    I did appreciate the encomia to such seriously underrated artists as Huey Lewis, Phil Collins, and Whitney Houston (RIP).

    Sorry for the threadjack and I swear this has nothing to do with Tom Cruise.

  21. Pinko Punko:

    There flower and garland drapery in all those images was really creepy- something looked slightly photoshopped about all of those worldwide celebrations. I would still put McCardle lower, considering Atlantic was paying her for that rather than getting paid.

  22. Ken:

    Old joke: A says to B, “Would you sleep with me for a million dollars?” B says, “Yes.” A says, “How about ten dollars?” B says, “What do you think I am?” A says, “We’ve established what you are, now we’re negotiating price.”

    The Atlantic established what it was when it first allowed ads (long, well-written ads, but ads nonetheless) to be called “content”. The Scientology ads establishes a price point.

  23. Erik Loomis:

    Which Beck album are you listening to right now?

  24. Vance Maverick:

    The book is absolutely worth reading. Which is not to say that certain sections of it aren’t absolutely unreadable.

  25. Rob:

    Can’t wait for the big Scientology pavilion at the Aspen ideas festival. Then again, when you think about it, that was always pretty much a cult.

  26. djw:

    Best comment so far:

    Such beautiful buildings! It’s a shame that Shelley Miscavige couldn’t join her husband at the gala openings!

  27. Joshua:

    Unfortunately, the comments are moderated.

  28. Jim Lynch:

    Scientologists are interesting specimens. What makes them tick, to have swallowed such baloney hook, line, and sinker? I know the same might be asked of Christians and immaculate conception, but for Christ’s sake, aliens having seeded volcanoes? What’s wrong with those people?

  29. Leeds man:

    “Is the answer to the question of whether or not all the carnage was in Bateman’s head supposed to be ambiguous?”

    I didn’t think it was ambiguous (in book or film), but I’m only semi-literate.

    What Vance said. There are some good grooming and fitness tips too.

  30. Chet Murthy:

    I’m not brainwashed by the church in anyway involved with Scientology

    And I bet a lotta people believe you, too.

  31. Erik Loomis:


  32. Brenda Johnson:

    Hilariously, the counter on “like” for the first comment is rolling like the odometer on a speedster . . .

  33. Ethan:

    Jeff Goldberg seems to have decided to make lemons into lemonade by using it as an opportunity to promote Lawrence Wright’s Scientology expose.

  34. Decrease Mather:

    Who knew?

    Washington, D.C.: September 12, 2012
    The Church of Scientology opened its new National Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., in a ceremony led by David Miscavige. Joining him in this dedication were Members of U.S. Congress Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Danny Davis (D-IL); as well as Liz Gibson, Senior Program Manager, Federal Emergency Management Agency.

  35. (the other) Davis:

    I had to Google to get the joke, but that is a beautifully crafted comment.

  36. Jeremy:

    I guess I missed the reference.

  37. elm:

    And you’ll never look at business cards the same way!

  38. elm:

    Wasn’t that Winston Churchill who said that or is that just urban legend?

  39. Uncle Ebeneezer:

    Considering the amount of $ Scientology has at it’s disposal, and the desperation of print media, I’m actually surprised we don’t see this sort of thing more often.

  40. tt:

    I understand why the The Atlantic is doing this I don’t get what’s in it for Scientology. They have a solid means of making massive amounts of money. Do they actually believe that getting this kind of attention on the internet (which hates them) will help them in any way?

  41. StevenAttewell:

    That was Winston Churchill, no?

  42. Colin:

    You mean you’ve never shrunk yourself to fit in a giraffe’s kidney and then played clue?

  43. Vance Maverick:

    Did Churchill ever even say anything at all, or did he just have things attributed to him, like Oscar Wilde?

  44. Mitch:

    Worth noting comments are moderated on the Atlantic’s sponsored posts, while not on real posts. I’d be curious if the sponsors get the keys to do that. How. Extra special would that be?

  45. MattT:

    Forget it, man. We all know you’re in the pocket of Big Stick.

  46. Lev:

    It’s supposed to be ambiguous, at least in the movie. Haven’t read the book, but there are a lot of deliberate touches in the movie (like when he’s dragging a corpse in a bag leaving a trail of blood, but then there’s a cut to another camera and it’s gone) that suggest this.

    It’s a pretty good movie with exceptionally good direction. And it was roughly ten years ahead of its time.

  47. Evening Links « Gerry Canavan:

    [...] * But it was too late for the Atlantic, powerless before Tom Cruise’s superpowers. [...]

  48. Bill Murray:

    Shelly hasn’t been seen in public since 2006

  49. Lev:

    Ileana Ros-Lehtinen must have chickened out.

  50. Vance Maverick:

    I didn’t notice the book dropping breadcrumbs like that (unless you count Bateman’s mysterious impunity), but I’m not the sort of reader or viewer who greatly cares. (It didn’t occur to me to wonder these sorts of things about Fight Club, for example, nor did I reevaluate the movie on being told.)

  51. Lev:

    The Atlantic: hawking bullshit and silencing dissent. Coates, time to move on, and turn the light out after you.

  52. snarkout:

    Danny Davis’s minders need to do a better job. Alternately, Danny Davis should get really involved with e.s.t. and hit the trifecta.

  53. rea:

    Blow by Blow, of course…

  54. Lev:

    Interesting you bring that up, as Fight Club has a very similar editing clue (hint: Norton gets out of the “wrong” car door after the crash).

  55. Leeds man:

    I wish I’d said that.

  56. Warren Terra:

    You know, I keep wanting to like Sheila Jackson Lee, because she was unusually and outspokenly right on a number of issues connected to Iraq and to War generally. But I’ve become convinced by her behavior on issues other than Iraq that she’s a hack, and a crank, and unusually gullible besides.

  57. ploeg:

    I Can Smell the V.D. in the Club Tonight

  58. mpowell:

    No kidding. Sponsored content is one thing. This is beyond the pale.

  59. Bruce Baugh:

    In the book, there’s that stunning chapter with the teller machine conversation and all, where we see some pretty genuine expressions of emotion of Bateman, that ends mid-sentence. The next chapter begins with no sign that Bateman has any recollection of what happened to him the night before. It’s the biggest sign that Bateman is trapped without the ability to distinguish, but not the only one.

  60. Matt McIrvin:


  61. ploeg:

    Considering the amount of $ that you can sink in the print media, it’s no wonder that the Scientologists are simply dipping their toes rather than going for full immersion.

  62. Hogan:

    I’m thinking Bernard Shaw, but we’re probably all wrong and it was Gladstone.

  63. Davis X. Machina:

    You will, James, you will.

  64. Hogan:

    It’s a real thing!

  65. Jordan:

    Apparently it was just a random Canadian.


  66. Hogan:

    Not as random as all that.

  67. somethingblue:

    If I’m remembering correctly, she regularly features near the top of those “Dumbest Members of Congress” lists. Or maybe it was “Worst Congresspeople to Work For.” But one of the ones based on a survey of actual staffers.

    [Updated: it was worst boss. But having seen her in committee hearings, I think she would be competitive for Dumbest.]

  68. Decrease Mather:

    In fairness, it’s entirely possible they were just walking out of the Starbucks next door and the Church is trying to pump up their event.

  69. Jon H:

    I assume they’re trying to get out ahead of the imminent Lawrence Wright exposé book, and the media coverage it’ll get. He’s already going to be on a NBC’s Rock Center.

    Also, they may have confused Lawrence Wright for Robert Wright, who until recently blogged at the Atlantic.

  70. YooHooligan:

    Aaaand, a mere 25 comments later, the comments are closed.

  71. Painini:

    Lord Beaverbrook.

    This information has improved my night by, uh, a lot.

  72. David E. Grey:

    Well I’ll be damned.

    Now there’s nothing left but TEDx Scientology.

  73. David E. Grey:

    When have you ever known a pol to allow their presence to be used for ‘free’ to boost someone else’s public image?

  74. David E. Grey:

    I don’t at all understand why The Atlantic is doing this.

    They want to attract a diverse group of readers, especially among those who are aware of topical social currents, and are reasonably intelligent.

    And they’ve been doing a fairly good job in making a presence for themselves on the Web, unlike other magazines often thought of in the same circles (such as Harpers.)

    But they undercut much of that effort with cheap money-making stunts like this one, and they clearly set out to alienate the very readership that they’re hoping to attract in greater numbers.

    It’s a long-term losing proposition, even if it’s profitable in the very short-term.

  75. DocAmazing:

    We’ve gotten this far, and no one has written “Miscavidge of justice”?

  76. David E. Grey:

    Their content management system allows the article or blog poster to control the comments in the associated Disqus thread. So yes, the CoS is able to directly moderate that comment thread. (As are other site admins at The Atlantic.)

  77. Jameson Quinn:

    Scientology, EST, and ?

  78. Jeremy:

    Lord Beaverbrook was followed by Lord Thomson of Fleet and Lord Black of Crossharbour as a succession of Canadian-born British press barons. I don’t know why I actually know that.

  79. Vance Maverick:

    A real profile in courage.

    I’m sure, by the way, that there were many more than 25 comments in the moderation queue. Mine was waiting, and there was nothing offensive about it….

  80. Aaron B.:

    Comments turned off as of the last time I looked. So many opportunities for trolling, such great potential, cut down in their prime!

  81. Aaron B.:

    Jeffrey Goldberg is a pretty smart dude, as long as you read the Israel stuff very, very critically. And a decent writer, too.

  82. rbcoover:

    I think it was clearer in the book that all the Wall Street guys are completely indistinguishable from each other, both from outsiders and each other, that literally no one would notice if one of them disappeared and if one was a psycho killer nobody would ever be able to tell which one it was. It’s been some years on both, but I remember the movie giving me more of an impression that “quite possibly this was all in his head” and the book giving me the impression “these people are all monstrously evil and exactly the same.”

  83. Bill Murray:

    Council for Union Free Environment

  84. Peter:

    As of 11:20, the comments aren’t closed.

    They’re gone.

    I really wish I had the option of leaving a flaming bag of dog shit at the front door of a website right now.

  85. Bill Murray:


  86. GregB:

    This is a Miscavaige of justice.

  87. DocAmazing:

    Thank you.

  88. DocAmazing:


  89. Phoenix Rising:

    Well, you do have that option but you’ll have to fly into Dulles to do it.

    My dog is too big for the carry-on under the seat, and so is one single dose of her crap–so better you than me.

    Can you mail dog shit and write a note asking the delivery person to set fire to it?

  90. Murc:

    I’m sure someone was taking screenshots.

  91. Paulk:

    Whole thing is gone now, content and comments.

  92. Ahistoricality:

    Apparently there is some shame left in them:

    “We have temporarily suspended this advertising campaign pending a review of our policies that govern sponsor content and subsequent comment threads.”

  93. Paulk:

    “We have temporarily suspended this advertising campaign pending a review of our policies that govern sponsor content and subsequent comment threads.”

    Well duh.

  94. L.M.:

    Sticks don’t have pockets.

  95. Moxiequz:

    Now the whole post is gone.

    We have temporarily suspended this advertising campaign pending a review of our policies that govern sponsor content and subsequent comment threads.

    Gosh, who could have seen this coming?

  96. Vance Maverick:

    Here. Apparently there’s been a bit of noise about this.

  97. Warren Terra:

    it rally was very nearly inconceivable that questions could be raised about The Atlantic mixing its advertising and its content-providing functions.

  98. wjts:

    Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana…

  99. Evan Harper:

    Are you in the pocket of Big Stick or are you just seeing me to be happy?

  100. Jeremy:

    Their note seems to imply that they have policies to review. I mean, I guess you can call “if the check clears, it’s all good” a policy. But if they haven’t got “don’t run things that obviously make us look bad” on the list, it can’t be that thorough.

  101. RhZ:

    Look, it started with Goldberg, and then Sullivan, then McArdle…where did you think that ship was headed?

    Sure, their Atlantic Wire has learned the art of link bait, but did you expect they could actually go anywhere with that?

    For my part, I am shocked, shocked, that the Atlantic has stooped so low. Now I am sure their credibility will be damaged as a result {stifles laughter}.

  102. RhZ:

    Jeffrey Goldberg is a pretty smart shameless dude, as long as you read the Israel stuff very, very critically as the straight Likud propaganda it is.


  103. Warren Terra:

    Boing Boing has a terrific response: a sponsored post by the (Cthulhu-ist) Order Of Dagon:

    Dread Cthulhu Leads His Cult to Milestone Year

  104. Peter:

    If you can’t, I think this would be a great way for USPS to compete with FedEx and UPS.

  105. Aaron B.:

    He has, admittedly, acted overly credulously towards sources (in particular Bibi) in conveying the image they want conveyed. But he’s really not a Likudnik, if you read him for more than five minutes.

  106. S_noe:

    Cached copy if you missed it

  107. BlogWood:

    Great timing – the St Pete Times is currently running an expose. I’m sure that the subject of the expose knew it was coming.

    Divide and conquer works against the mainstream media just like it works against workers.

    St. Petersburg Times: FBI’s Scientology investigation: Balancing the First Amendment with charges of abuse and forced labor http://blgwd.us/X3ZRqO

  108. DocAmazing:


  109. hylen:


  110. leinad:

    Indeed. I highly recommend Moe Tkacik’s Baffler piece on the Atlantic for anyone who still thinks it a serious magazine.

  111. Pseudonym:


  112. NorthLeft12:

    Yes, a surprisingly large number of my neighbours are British Press barons.

    And I don’t even live in the good part of town.

    A random Canadian Engineer.

  113. NorthLeft12:

    If the explanation for her absence is Lovecraftian, that would explain a lot.

  114. NorthLeft12:

    “We have temporarily suspended this advertising campaign pending a review of our policies that govern sponsor content and subsequent comment threads.”

    I believe this can be roughly translated to mean the following:

    “The Atlantic is currently involved in an internal struggle between our conscience and greed. At this point in time our better nature has prevailed, but we have included the word “temporarily” to indicate our willingness to be further enriched at the expense of whatever of our good name is left.”

  115. RedSquareBear:

    I will see it again and again!

    For the next 10 or 20 thousand years…

    (Sorry if the video makes the same joke. At work, can’t be bothered to watch it.)

  116. RedSquareBear:

    I’ve always felt that that speech really needed stage notes. I’ve always wondered at exactly which point(s) Mr. Galt masturbated himself to climax.

    Maybe one of Ms. Rand’s literary heirs could publish an annotated edition based on the author’s notes.

  117. witless chum:

    Read his dialog with TNC on gun control? Even with Coates calmly and politely explaining things to him, he doesn’t get within a mile of getting it. And brings up St. Augustine.

  118. Tod Westlake:

    So disappointed that the campaign has been suspended. I was really hoping that my sincere comment that David Miscavige is the “kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life” would make the cut.

  119. witless chum:

    They haven’t always been wrong, either.

  120. witless chum:

    I wonder why they don’t just buy an established newspaper or magazine and run it along the lines of the Moonie Times?

  121. Cody:

    I think it went more like “Dear CoS, this sponsored ad has gotten a lot of traffic. It will be an additional $500,000 to continue to display it on our website”

  122. Lacking Moral Fiber aka Useless Muthfucka frmly Nemesis:

    The paulites got nuttin on the clamheads.

  123. Halloween Jack:

    And when did Moe Tkacik become a serious blogger?

  124. Halloween Jack:

    Frankly, I’m less offended by this, because it’s at least clearly labeled.

  125. snarkout:

    As it says in the link, the Unification Church.

  126. TribalistMeathead:

    The movie does give the impression that it was all in his head (and I haven’t read the book), but it could also give the impression that the rich can literally get away with murder, because all involved parties will just fall in line to back up your alibi (the scene at the end where the apartment is being re-painted and the real estate agent tells Bateman to leave, Bateman’s lawyer telling Bateman he just saw Paul Allen in London a few days ago, etc.).

  127. TribalistMeathead:

    Having seen her in one committee hearing, I don’t have a problem believing she’s one of the worst Members of Congress to work for.

  128. blowback:

    Well she was at one of them.

  129. Njorl:

    Air, ground, 2nd day ground, flaming, 2nd day flaming…

  130. Anna in PDX:

    Wow, I was one of those last night who didn’t get to see the article before they took it down – absolutely disgusting. Awful. There are no words, really.

  131. Vance Maverick:

    The Atlantic has apologized. (Via Fallows and Coates, i.e. the parts worth reading.)

  132. bradP:

    While the “Sponsored Content” was pretty clear at the top, the format is obviously intended to mimic their news and opinion content. In fact, I would wager that the value of the ad itself comes from the imitation.

  133. bradP:

    BS apology.

    They’ve got themselves stuck on this one. No way to apologize sufficiently without spelling out what makes Scientology so evil.

  134. Cody:

    I wish the ads here had comment sections. When the Romney ad was running everyday it would have been a happenin’ place.

  135. socraticsilence:

    The Jeffery Goldberg passive-aggressive post was delightful: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/01/a-wonderful-new-book-about-scientology-by-a-wonderful-writer/267178/

  136. Substance McGravitas:

    That’s a really good idea for advertisers actually…and for here.

  137. Roger Ailes:

    Tina Brown should hire Max.

    That would be awesome.

  138. blowback:

    You thought it couldn’t get any worse – it can!

    The Atlantic is now carrying an on-the-spot report of an interrogation under torture by the FSA in Syria. In fact, it almost seems as if the “reporter” (Barak Barfi, a research fellow at the New America Foundation) is the interrogator with the torture being applied by an FSA goon.


  139. S_noe:

    It can’t be Yog-Sothoth. I’m pretty sure he’s trapped under the Pentagon.

  140. Malaclypse:

    Released when the Pentagon got hit by the aircraft on 9/11.

    Admit it, this actually does explain pretty much everything that happened since then.

  141. Shalimar:

    Davis was also present at the Dirksen building ceremony in 2004 where they crowned Rev Moon as the second coming of Jesus.

  142. Malaclypse:

    The Onion wins.

  143. commie atheist:

    I think I saw a young Lawrence O’Donnell at the beginning. Mesmerizing.

  144. commie atheist:

    A pity that Canada had to outsource to the Empire’s former penal colony.

  145. Howard Appel:

    Does anyone have a screen capture or a link to the wayback machine grab of it, they have already “orwelled” it.

  146. dl:


  147. Bill Murray:

    I think Bob Howard got him, trapped under the remains of the Air Force Academy

  148. SEK:

    No, Patrick Batman really did kill all those people. Wait, what?

  149. Substance McGravitas:

    Disagree. You can figure out what’s going on early enough that slogging through the rest of the thing is pointless. The movie is far better.

  150. Vance Maverick:

    As I wrote below, or possibly above, I didn’t find “figuring out what was going on” to be the source of interest. The static and repetitive quality — enough so that the eerie banality of the music reviews leaps out as a diversion — became fascinating to me. The butchery, not quite so much.

  151. Substance McGravitas:

    I know what you mean – there’s a story in my copy of 1001 Nights where a guy in a hurry goes to the barber and the barber won’t stop talking, and that goes on and on and on…fun to read to people. But it isn’t 400 pages long.

  152. Steve:

    That’s probably what they told Bob. I’m sure Angleton secretly harnessed him in preparation for a role in CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN. Apply SCORPION STARE to Travolta and Miscavige…

  153. RhZ:

    Check S_noe’s comment above for the link.

  154. RhZ:

    No, no, tell us how you really feel :-)

  155. anonymous in WV:

    Well, this Wednesday morning all that’s left is the remark that “We have temporarily suspended this advertising campaign pending a review of our policies that govern sponsor content and subsequent comment threads.”

    I’m so sad I didn’t get to see the “like” counter spinning, and read all the Scientology nuts’ comments.

    Years ago I worked with a guy whose brother-in-law ruined his family paying for clearing sessions until he ran out of money and credit, at which time the “church” dropped him like a rotten hot potato. No house, no job (spent too much time at “church” to get the job done!) and no wife or kids, because she was smart enough to get the heck out of Columbus.

    There’s a religion for you – taking all your money, ruining your life, then kicking you out since you can’t afford the dues any more!

    When their founding clown first imagined the scam, it was while drinking and playing cards with his fellow SciFi authors at a Con. None of the other guys ever thought for a minute that it was
    a good idea to actually found the imaginary church, which included every trite SciFi idea they could come up with while drinking and playing cards, except L. Ron. What a buncha maroons!

    I use a pseudonym [sic] to prevent gratuitous violence by the maroons against my family!

  156. anonymous in WV:

    Thanks to Flickr and the innertubes saving everything in archives, I have been able to read the sponsored content in full.

    Whoooo-howdy, what a pointless load of tripe!

    When I spent time on the streets of Chicago, I learned of several wealthy yet odd religious institutions, many with large stone buildings taking up large portions of downtown city blocks, right in the loop.

    I would bet all the money in my pocket that none of them are as weird as what L. Ron and his SciFi writing buddies dreamed up that late night! And I’m not wearing pants with pockets posting here at home…

  157. Robert M.:

    I’m so late to the party that I’m actually early for the next one, but the Onion has a companion piece here.

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