The decline of The Atlantic, and of much else besides

Malcolm Pollack writes:

How far we have fallen: The Atlantic, which was founded in Boston in 1857 as a home for America’s nascent literary community, and which has through most of existence been a prominent edifice of high American culture, now has as senior editor a person named “Ta-Nehisi Coates”—who, in a debate about gun control, revealed, without apparent embarrassment, that he didn’t even know who St. Augustine was.

This civilization is a tottering corpse.

LA replies:

Around five years ago, The Atlantic radically changed. I’ve never seen any acknowledgement or discussion in the media about this transformation or how it occurred. It used to be a self-consciously literate, very proper (and pompous) voice of centrist liberalism with occasional shocking openings to conservatism, such as its excerpt from The Camp of the Saints in the ’90s. Now it’s just a typical leftwing magazine. I first became aware of the change when the mentally diseased Andrew Sullivan, after he had become toxic to any remotely respectable publication, became a regular columnist there. Also its layout and format are changed; now it looks like any junk pop magazine.

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AF writes:

I enjoy reading The Atlantic. They are predictably left-wing, but they have some good writers who appear able to think clearly (e.g., Fallows on the economy and Goldberg on guns—not that I agree with Goldberg, but he seems to be able to think clearly about the subject).

I don’t think highly of Ta-Nehisi Coates. In my opinion, he drags The Atlantic down. Coates wrote extensively about the George Zimmerman case (with a predicable point of view). Interviewed about the case on NPR, he and another black journalist pointed out how important it was that blacks were in newsrooms because the George Zimmerman case might otherwise not have received the proper treatment by the authorities. He seems to have lost interest in the case rather quickly.

The change in the Atlantic five years ago could have something to do with this:

“in February, it hired Andrew Sullivan, the iconoclastic, sometimes conservative commentator, who is one of the nation’s most prominent journalists. Justin Smith, the president of Atlantic Media, estimated that the addition of Mr. Sullivan’s blog accounts for 30 percent of the increased traffic.”

Pretty simple: the owners of The Atlantic wanted to make more money, so they moved aggressively in a direction that would help them do so.

LA replies:

Notice their untruth in calling Sullivan “sometimes conservative.” This was after Sullivan had, during the 2004 presidential campaign, following a months-long histrionic fit over G.W. Bush’s opposition to homosexual “marriage” (an opposition that was in fact coldly pro-forma and meaningless) abandoned the Republican party and become a Democrat.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 27, 2012 09:29 AM | Send

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