PR VICTORIES: So I'm reading a piece in The New York Times about the growing influence of The Weekly Standard, a well-known neocon rag. And there I see that Bill Kristol has written a book called The War Over Iraq "with Lawrence F. Kaplan, a senior editor at The New Republic. The collaboration with a writer from a magazine identified with the Democratic Party is one more symptom of The Weekly Standard's transformation from outré journal of the right to the Boswell of the new global agenda."
Coming after the Observer's article about The New Republic's alleged new "daringness" -- represented by stances that break with neither conventional wisdom nor the mag's long-stated positions of the last decade -- this is too much to bear. I've been reading Kaplan's articles for several years now, and on foreign policy at least -- that is, on the one topic he ever seems to write about -- his views are completely indistinguishable from Kristol's and those of Kristol ally Robert Kagan. Indeed, I've sometimes slipped and said Kagan's name when I meant Kaplan's, and vice versa. The fact that he would write a book on Iraq with Bill Kristol represents no political realignment whatsoever. The New Republic and The Weekly Standard may disagree on taxes, but on foreign policy they are as one, and were so even when the Standard was allegedly an "outré journal of the right."
Why do I get the impression that some reporters assigned to cover magazines never read the publications they're writing about? The real story here isn't the increasing influence of the Standard or The New Republic's willingness to say purportedly daring things. It's the ability of magazines' PR people to sell other journals' writers on stories that are obviously untrue.