To elaborate a bit on Atrios’ one liner, Salon has always been a strange animal. I was actually a premium subscriber for a couple years, and it’s always published good writers and interesting stuff. But it’s as if there’s some sort of Slate contrarianism magnet that pulls it toward mitigating good choices with choices that have no conceivable substantive or market rationale. (David Horowitz?) Again, Salon has actually done a lot of good things recently–Broadsheet is generally excellent, and brining in Daou and Greenwald was smart. And it supports good writing, Stephanie Zacharek is a very good critic, King Kauffman is very good (although he seems to take off days than late-period Johnny Carson.) But Camille Paglia? I mean, substantively, it’s incomprehensible; six years of Bush, and we want somebody engaging in speculation about Hillary Clinton’s sex life (while discussing how to spot good teethy blowjobs) and expressing her ultimate disappointment with Ralph Nader, party builder (gee, maybe something earlier could have tipped you off–the fact that he never joined the Green Party? That he sabotaged any chance they had of getting matching funds to go to swing states and fulfill his stated goal of putting Bush in the White House? And if he wanted a third party, what’s the payoff?) Haven’t the wages of vacuous snark become obvious enough by now? But leaving aside the lack of merit in her writing, she’s so over. Check out the letters–do they think any discernible market is going to shell out to read this crap at this late date? (In fairness, she did have a few defenders. My favorite: “I for one am glad Dr. P is back, despite – or maybe because of – her knack for combining serious topics with fluff.” What serious topics?) I’m almost afraid of them bringing on somebody good now, because it means the inevitable announcement next week that Salon will proudly be hosting Ann Althouse’s new blog “Pictures of MadisonShittyRealityTVAnti-liberalsmearnarrativesWhatGlennReynoldssaid.com.”
I didn’t find the Walsh piece quite as objectionable as Atrios, but it’s still frustrating in a couple places. What I found most annoying is her reading straight from the Bill Donohue playbook here:
The posts that got them in trouble were intemperate in their take on Catholicism, but that’s not the only thing they’ve been intemperate about. They are young and brash. Like many of us, they sometimes blogged first and asked questions later. Their blogs are passionate and sometimes funny; the writing is uneven, but the commitment to candor and to street-fighting the right wing are not. If Bill Donohue hadn’t come along to make them a campaign issue, somebody else would have. I don’t say that to bash Marcotte or McEwan, just to ask whether Edwards’ move to hire them was really thought through carefully.
I’ve asked this before, and I’m going to keep asking it until people (especially liberals) keep repeating it: where is McEwan’s intemperate take on Catholicism? I don’t believe Marcotte’s writings are anti-Catholic bigotry, but I can certainly understand that you wouldn’t need to be Bill Donohue to find a couple posts offensive, and I can understand the argument that a Presidential campaign needs to be careful about this. But McEwan, as far as I can tell, never discussed Catholicism specifically at all, and the idea that simply attacking the policy views Christian conservatives (yes, sometimes using Cheney-like language, get me the fainting couch) is credibly described as “intemperate” Catholic-bashing is absurd. In addition, their writing styles just aren’t that similar. It’s not suprising that being young, liberal women is enough that the Bill Donohues of the world would discuss Amanda and Melissa as if they were interchangeable, but I expect more from what is set up to be a major thinkpiece from a prominent liberal magazine.