IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN WEEKLY STANDARD LAND…. Jonathan Chait had a great item the other day on the defining characteristic of one of the key Republican news outlets: the Weekly Standard.
A magazine like National Review specializes in making the case for conservative ideas. The Standard‘s contribution is to assert over and over that Republicans are succeeding, or at least doing better than you think they are. The idea is to buck up your side and encourage them to keep fighting, in order to ward off the self-defeating psychology of losing.
It’s unclear to me why the subscribers of that magazine pay money to be the subjects of a disinformation campaign. To be sure, like any stopped clock, sometimes the Standard gets it right. But there’s a distinctly Pravda-esque feel to the political coverage that makes back reading an enjoyable experience.
It is a curious phenomenon. I understand the purpose of National Review, even though I find it offensive. Its writers and editors believe their ideas are the right ones, and are committed to presenting their case (a case I find deceptive, incoherent, and misguided). I can also understand the purpose of Fox News, even though I think it makes a mockery of American journalism. There’s an audience for a network that will present current events through a Republican lens, and FNC caters to the niche.
But the Weekly Standard is just a cheerleader in print. Chait and Noah Kristula-Green pulled together some classic examples from recent years. Last year, for example, the magazine assured readers that John McCain was likely to win the presidency and the “new and improved” Republican brand — which “President Bush has helped” — would help stem congressional losses.
In 2007, the Standard said Republicans should be optimistic about the 2008 elections. In August 2006, it said the same about the midterms (you know, the cycle when Democrats re-claimed the majority in both chambers). In July 2006, the Standard assured readers that George W. Bush may be “on his way to renewed popularity.”
Indeed, this morning, I swung by the Stardard‘s site, and the lead story was from Fred Barnes, arguing that all recent current events are “good news for Republicans — extremely good news.”
Giving Republicans a copy of the Weekly Standard is a bit like giving them a doll that says, “Everything is going to be all right” every time you squeeze it.