This was followed by the confident but as yet unprovable assertion that “a two-term Obama Administration will leave an enduringly positive imprint on political life.”
ONE CAN only hope that the New Yorker is right, but it is important to remember that the most accurate elements in its coverage of the campaign were based on sound reporting and cool analysis. Its biggest reverses—such as its complete surprise at Obama’s dismal performance in the first debate—were the result of inflated hopes and wishful thinking. The English humorist Humbert Wolfe wrote of the Fleet Street political reporters and pundits of an earlier age:
You cannot hope to bribe or twist,
thank God! The British journalist.
But, seeing what the man will do
unbribed, there’s no occasion to.
No one would suggest that bribery plays any part in the prejudices and flaws in the New Yorker’s political journalism. But there are far more subtle forms of corruption than bribery. If the New Yorker is guilty of anything it is an editorial smugness bordering on arrogance, an assumption that anyone who disagrees with its chosen approach to economic and social issues is either invincibly ignorant, intellectually dishonest or motivated by greed. This is political Puritanism at its worst and precisely the kind of blind, self-righteous prejudice that the New Yorker professes to abhor when it is practiced by those it disagrees with.
Only when its individual writers approached their subjects with open minds and an absence of groupthink—as in several of the examples cited in this article—did the New Yorker’s coverage of the 2012 campaign achieve a level of excellence worthy of what is often the best-written, best-edited mass-audience magazine in America.
Aram Bakshian Jr., a contributing editor to The National Interest, served as an aide to presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan and writes frequently on politics, history, gastronomy and the arts.Image: Pullquote: If the New Yorker is guilty of anything it is . . . an assumption that anyone who disagrees with its chosen approach to economic and social issues is either invincibly ignorant, intellectually dishonest or motivated by greed.Essay Types: Essay