The Decadence of <i>Slate</i>
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I loathe Slate. I hate it for a lot of reasons. I'm guessing there's a lot of Slate haters out there. Slate is a convenient place for me to locate my hatred, because it's the summation and intersection of many smaller hateful things, including:
--an editorial mind that verges from cutsey dissent to outright worship of venerable -- nay, holy -- East Coast institutions like the New York Times , the White House, NPR, Harvard, the Supreme Court, The Atlantic Monthly , etc. For most of us who no longer see these institutions as beacons of Truth, or never did, it hasn't been that hard to chart their amazing atrophy and systemic decay in our Recent Political Era. Since Slate clings on to these institutions with such a firm and adoring grip, it's a perfect one-stop kaleidoscope to watch the whole thing go down, and the DC-NYC-Boston tribe of snob vampires along with it.
--the bylines: including, but not limited to Fred Kaplan, Bruce Reed, Chris Hitchens, Michael Kinsley, John Dickerson. Creeps all of them, each in their own vile ways. Kaplan sells empire, Reed sells the idea of a functioning corporatist, pressed suits-only Democratic Party, Hitchens sells a lost war and contends its fallout, Kinsley still pushes the walking corpse of a myth that editorial boards have a monopoly on wisdom, and John Dickerson keeps the idea that DC politics isn't something serious -- it's fun -- and plays interpreter so that we might understand its fascinating ways and deep meanings.
--self-aware cutsey column names: Bruce Reed's column is called "The Has-Been" because his career as a professional sellout artist for the Democratic Party in the Clinton White House and Loral Satellite-funded ideas guy at the DLC is over. But like all people, Reed hasn't changed, and even as he sits there with no power, no friends, no reason to keep playing the game, he still pushes the same cynical politics.
--the sickly sweet and sinister headlines & teasers that try shove pure evil down your throat. Here are two from today:
-"Defending Rumsfeld From the Generals: But just a teeny little bit" by Fred Kaplan. Just what you think it is, a playful defense of Donald Rumsfeld. This is from a guy who only last week urged for diplomacy with Iran, yet here he is defending a guy who most certainly has entertained the idea of using nuclear weapons there.
-"Lament of the Profiteer: Why Halliburton wants the Iraq war to end" by Daniel Gross. Just what you think it is, an attempt to explain that Halliburton isn't profiting as much off Iraq as you thought it was.
--Its outrageous, disgusting obsession with The New York Times . I know, I know, I mentioned this before, but good Lord. I count four stories on the NYT on their front page right now.
--A hundred other things, like its articles about China, trade and torture. It's completely rotten.
To Slate's credit, it employs two very good writers: Jack Shafer and Dahlia Lithwick. And it does some really good work on smashing American cultural myths on drugs (and Jack Shafer is its shining star on this front, even as he shows off his lack of a gag reflex when writing about the NYT or the Atlantic Monthly).
Still, I hate it.
Jan Frel is an AlterNet staff writer.