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Ed Driscoll

‘Free of Party Ideology or Partisan Bias’

January 28th, 2013 - 6:09 pm
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Like Charles Foster Kane buying the fictitious New York Inquirer and publishing his “Declaration of Principles,” Chris Hughes, the co-founder of Facebook who’s now the new owner of The New Republic (which has also had issues with being fictitious itself from time to time), declares that, under his watch, TNR “will strive to be free of party ideology or partisan bias”:

With this issue, we relaunch The New Republic. Our goals may be somewhat different from those of the magazine’s founding fathers, but we share their unabashed idealism. We believe that our new hyper-information age is thrilling, but not entirely satisfying. We believe that there must remain space for journalism that takes time to produce and demands a longer attention span-writing that is at once nourishing and entertaining. We aim to tell the most important, timely stories about politics, culture, and big ideas that matter to you.

The journalism in these pages will strive to be free of party ideology or partisan bias, although it will showcase passionate writing and will continue to wrestle with the primary questions about our society. Our purpose is not simply to tell interesting stories, but to always ask why these stories matter and tie their reporting back to our readers. We hope to discern the hidden patterns, to connect the disparate facts, and to find the deeper meaning, a layer of understanding beyond the daily headlines.

That’s nice.

Wait — huh?

As Jonah Goldberg writes at NRO, “The new New Republic claims it will be free of party ideology or partisan bias. I honestly don’t know exactly what Hughes means by this, but it strikes me as a very bad start”:

There’s nothing to be ashamed of in being an opinion magazine. Good opinion journalism, I’ve long argued, is superior to most “objective” journalism, precisely because it makes an honest argument. An author of a long essay in National Review or The New Republic says “I believe in X. Here are my reasons why I support X. And here are the best arguments for those who say X is wrong and support Y instead.” Everything is out in the open, as in a court of law. Indeed, in a courtroom the prosecution is “biased” toward conviction, the defense towards acquittal. But both sides understand that they must address the opposing side’s best arguments or they will lose. And both sides understand they cannot take liberties with the facts. Supposedly objective journalism is very often far less honest about such things.

The new New Republic claims it will be free of party ideology or partisan bias. I honestly don’t know exactly what Hughes means by this, but it strikes me as a very bad start. A New Republic that is liberalism-free has no reason to exist (much as a National Review that is conservatism-free is pointless). A liberal New Republic that pretends it’s free of liberalism while it attempts to advance liberalism is a huge step backwards. After all, why should the reader trust a bunch of committed liberal opinion journalists if they can’t even be honest about what they are or what they are trying to do?

Exactly. TNR is a magazine for liberals (or “progressives,” or whatever the left wants to call itself these days), just as National Review and the Weekly Standard are magazines for conservatives, and Reason is a magazine for libertarians. If you’re buying those magazines, you’re not looking for a publication that’s striving “to be free of party ideology or partisan bias” — you want bias — and plenty of raw meat (or perhaps raw tofu in the case of TNR’s readers).

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