Search Results For mike allen

There he goes again, the mouthpiece for Rove and Cheney, believing his "access" as a stenographer makes him a journalist. It doesn't. It makes him a stenographer.

Allen gussies up his source's bile with a few fig leaf sentences and a gesture from a Democratic rebuttal. But he also offers the entire Cheney statement – a classic Dolchstoss attack on the president as a traitor – in full.

I hope Allen gets his page-views. But shouldn't the Cheneys be paying him rather than Politico?

Greenwald tackles Allen:

Note, too, the sequence of events as Allen describes them:

While I was writing the piece, a very well-known former Bush administration official e-mailed some caustic criticism of Obama’s decision to release the memos. I asked the former official to be quoted by name, but this person refused, e-mailing: “Please use only on background.”

So these quotes arrived in Allen’s email inbox with no agreement that the quotes were off the record.  Thus, Allen was free to publish them and identity for his readers what Bush officials were saying about Obama.  But — exact like Tim Russert — Allen apparently treats his conversations with Bush officials as “presumptively confidential,” i.e., like a good and loyal P.R. spokesman, he will only report what he learns if they give him permission to do so — even in the absence of an explicit off-the-record agreement. 

Glenn then gets tough:

Allen’s excuse for anonymity was that readers could decide for themselves whether the anonymous Bush criticisms “sounded defensive or vindictive.” But he then confesses that he edited out “the most incendiary parts,” including “several ad hominems.” So, like a good servant-editor, he first helpfully sanitized the Bush official’s smears by making them appear more sober and substantive than they actually were — by removing all the parts that reflected vindictiveness towards Obama — and then justified the anonymity he granted by saying he wanted readers to see for themselves if the criticisms of Obama’s decision were grounded in vindictiveness. He evidently confessed all of that without realizing that his actions completely negate his claimed justification.

Greg Sargent gets a response from Mike Allen:

Sometimes ya have to read beyond a blog snippet. When people read our actual article, they’ll see that the headline and top two-thirds are an exclusive on David Axelrod’s behind-the-scenes description of the President’s decision-making process, followed by a shorter Bush view from a very high-level official whose opinion was available only on background — not ideal, but better than making readers wonder what the official Bush view is.

Anonymity is a problem in this case because it is allowing the Bush official to make unsubstantiated or opaque claims. Kori Schake, a former national security adviser on defense issues to President George W. Bush, went on the record against the memos. I'm sure others would have as well. I stand by my post. And Allen broke one of the most basic rules in fair journalism and should apologize, not dig in.

Mike Allen: Bush Mouthpiece

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 16 2009 @ 9:44pm

Under what reasoning does Politico's Mike Allen give the following piece of spin anonymity?:

A former top official in the administration of President George W. Bush called the publication of the memos “unbelievable.”

“It's damaging because these are techniques that work, and by Obama's action today, we are telling the terrorists what they are,” the official said. “We have laid it all out for our enemies. This is totally unnecessary. … Publicizing the techniques does grave damage to our national security by ensuring they can never be used again — even in a ticking-time- bomb scenario where thousands or even millions of American lives are at stake."

“I don't believe Obama would intentionally endanger the nation, so it must be that he thinks either 1. the previous administration, including the CIA professionals who have defended this program, is lying about its importance and effectiveness, or 2. he believes we are no longer really at war and no longer face the kind of grave threat to our national security this program has protected against.”

Allen is allowing a member of the administration that broke the Geneva Conventions and commited war crimes to attack the current president and claim, without any substantiation, that the torture worked. He then allows that "top official" to proclaim things that are at the very least highly questionable. What journalistic standard is Allen following in allowing such a person to speak anonymously?

And how much lower can he sink in craving buzz and traffic?

Last week, in response to me, Douthat kicked off a conversation about reform conservatives’ foreign policy views. Ross, for his part, advocates for a “kind of unifying center for conservatives weary of current binaries (Tea Party versus RINOs in the domestic sphere, ‘isolationists’ versus ‘neocons’ in foreign policy), which would internalize lessons from the Bush and Obama eras (especially lessons about the limits of military interventions and nation-building efforts) without abandoning broad Pax Americana goals“:

I liked Ben Domenech’s way of framing this point, when he wrote [last week] in the Transom that the Republican Party “has always burke.jpgincluded realists and idealists, and there was in the past a degree of trust that elected leaders could sound more like idealists but govern more like realists.” It’s that trust that was forfeited by some of the Bush administration’s follies, and that needs to be recovered if the G.O.P. is to deserve anybody’s vote. But because it’s a trust, ultimately, in competence and caution, it’s a bit hard to say exactly what this kind of “new realism” or “realist internationalism” or “chastened idealism” (or whatever phrase you prefer) would look like case by case … beyond, I suppose, saying “let Robert Gates drink from the fountain of youth, and put him in charge of Republican foreign policy forever,” which is certainly an idea, but probably not a sufficient foundation for an actual agenda.

Justin Logan argues that a “big part of the problem here is the conservative donor class”:

To put it bluntly, the portion of the GOP donor class that cares about foreign policy is wedded to a militaristic foreign policy, particularly in but not limited to the Middle East. Tens of millions of dollars every year are pumped into an alphabet soup of magazines, think tanks, fellowships, lobby groups and other outfits in Washington to ensure that conservative foreign policy stays unreformed.

If we conceive of the Right broadly, comparatively dovish voices on the Right consist of Rand Paul, those writing at the American Conservative, and the foreign and defense policy staff at the Cato Institute, the latter of which Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot once derisively but not entirely inaccurately referred to as “four or five people in a phone booth.” (We have actual offices, for the record.) But until there is some larger countervailing force in the conservative movement, the well-financed and well-entrenched status quo will persist.

Suderman engages in the conversation:

Too much of our foreign policy conversation, on both sides of the aisle, is conducted with a kind of chest-thumping certainty about what we can know, what we should do, and what the results will be if we follow through. That attitude is perhaps understandable, given the context of war and international power, but it’s also frequently frustrating and unhelpful, especially given how difficult it can be to establish even the most basic facts on the ground when it comes to the particulars of many foreign policy conflicts and disputes.

A foreign policy of caution and humility, of uncertainty and wariness, might help help turn down the heat on foreign policy debates, by focusing on the limitations of America’s power and—even more—its ability to determine foreign policy outcomes, and by talking as much about what we don’t know as what we do.

Larison sees foreign policy as the GOP’s greatest weakness:

Bush-era foreign policy has been politically toxic for Republicans in three of the last four national elections. There is good reason to assume that it will continue to be an important liability in future presidential elections unless the party makes a clear break with at least some of its Bush-era assumptions and positions, and for the most part that isn’t happening at all. Until that happens, everyone outside the party will reasonably assume that the GOP hasn’t changed, that it has learned nothing, and that it still shouldn’t be trusted with the responsibility to conduct foreign policy. It seems unlikely that a domestic reform agenda will even get off the ground as long as the public doesn’t trust a Republican president to carry out some of his most important primary responsibilities.

But Drum remains skeptical that the GOP’s foreign policy split is real:

I’ve seen no evidence of change within the mainstream of the party. Aside from Paul, who are the non-interventionists? Where exactly is the fight? I don’t mean to suggest that everyone in the Republican Party is a full-blown unreconstructed neocon. There’s a continuum of opinion, just as there’s always been. But as near as I can tell they’re nearly all about as generally hawkish as they’ve ever been—and just as eager as ever to tar Democrats as a gang of feckless appeasers and UN lovers.

Kilgore is less dismissive of the GOP “civil war”:

I’m less interested in Paul’s own views than in the possibility that he will make it possible for other 2016 presidential candidates to break away from the old neocon and realist schools that share a commitment to higher defense spending and U.S. global hegemony. Already Ted Cruz has declared himself “half-way” between Paul and John McCain on foreign policy. And such potential candidates as Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and even Mike Huckabee have the flexibility to position themselves at any number of points on the spectrum.

My concern is that their rubric for understanding Obama’s foreign policy is that he is weak, doesn’t call enough foreign leaders thugs and is too deliberative. It’s hard to see a response to that that doesn’t privilege the unreconstructed neocons and Cheneyites. Or, worse, the idiotic ramblings of Rubio.

This blog has long been generally supportive of the attempt by a handful of sane and intelligent conservative thinkers to brainstorm some kind of future for the American right. And who wouldn’t be? If the alternative is the brain dead 1979 redux position of someone like Kimberley Strassel, you gotta love Ross Douthat. But it strikes me there are deep challenges for this fledgling group of now Tanenhaus-blessed scholars, and they may be hard to overcome.

The first is the lack of any clear unifying theme or rallying cry that can meld policy to politics. “Reform” seems too vague and goo-goo a thatcherreagan.jpgtheme to catch on. On the core axis of more or less government, the reformicons rightly answer smaller, better government – but the “better” part always ends up a little duller than “smaller”. A child tax credit may or may not be a decent idea – but it’s very hard to fit it into the broader tradition of less government dependency. Ditto attempts to alleviate student debt, or to encourage the hiring of the long-term unemployed, or the block granting of anti-poverty funds to the states. All of them are hard to do when you demonize government itself as regularly as the Republican rank and file.

Perhaps the best scenario for a raft of such small, but potent policy proposals would be a Republican version of the Clinton administration – which bored the pants off ideologues but still connected with the tangible needs and concerns of most people. Alas, it’s hard to imagine a Clintonism of the right without a Clinton. It was Bill’s astonishing charm, loquaciousness, relentlessness and seduction that made these tedious laundry lists so popular. I do not see any such charismatic figure with such a direct and personal grasp of so many policy issues on the right. Maybe he or she will show up as a charismatic and brilliant governor. Or maybe not. If Ted Cruz is the new archetype of a Republican, never.

Within British conservatism, there are, in contrast, two competing traditions – Whig and Tory – that mitigate this problem. The Whiggish triumviratetimsloangetty.jpgfaction had its high watermark under Thatcher, a conservative who embraced market liberalism as the best foil to socialism. But the Tory faction never disappeared completely. Its rallying cry – and historical legacy – is “One Nation” Toryism, rooted in Disraeli’s conservative embrace of the working classes, and abhorrence at the vast social and economic inequalities of his time. It has no problem at all with government and its benefits. This would be a natural and identifiable tradition to embrace in Britain for a set of reformers like the Levin brigade. In America? No Disraeli ever existed – and no Bismarck either. Eisenhower may be the best analogue. And re-introducing Eisenhower to the next generation is a pretty heavy lift. The trouble with American conservatism is that it is, in essence, so new, and so wedded to a particular era, that it doesn’t have the depth and reach of a European conservatism that can provide a leader like Angela Merkel.

And then the reformicons are operating at a disadvantage in a culturally polarized America. It would be great if this were not the case – but since a huge amount of both parties’ base mobilization requires intensifying the cultural conflict, and since the divide is rooted in real responses to changing mores, it will likely endure. And that kind of climate makes pragmatic conservatism again less likely to get a hearing.

So, for example, I’m perfectly open to new ideas on, say, helping working class families with kids. But some pretty basic concerns about the current GOP on cultural issues – its open hostility to my own civil marriage, its absolutism on abortion, its panic at immigration, its tone-deafness on racial injustice – push me, and many others, into leaning Democrat for a while. And it’s important to note that even the reformicons are die-hard cultural and religious conservatives in most respects. On those questions, there is no airing of the idea of reform. mccameronbrunovincentgetty.jpgDavid Cameron’s post-Thatcher re-tooling of British conservatism took at least two major issues associated with the left-of-center – marriage equality and climate change – and embraced them fully. If the reformicons could do something like that, they would begin to gain traction outside of a few circles in DC and in the country at large. But they won’t; and, given the rigidity of the GOP base on those issues, can’t.

Then there’s the absence of any foreign policy vision. The fixation on domestic policy is welcome – but the greatest disaster in Republican government in the last decade was the Iraq War, and, more broadly, the massive over-reach of big government in trying to re-make the world into a democratic wonderland. To some extent, Rand Paul and Mike Lee have shown an ability to tackle this question – and favor a serious continuation of Obama’s de-leveraging of the US abroad, along with a further dismantling of the Cheney infrastructure for the war on terror. But the reformicons have never issued a clear rejection of Cheneyism, and indeed seem, f0r the most part, like unreconstructed neocons abroad. I can’t see any of them demanding some concessions from Israel for a two-state solution, for example, or any policy toward Iran but war. But they’re mainly silent on these burke.jpgquestions – which also marginalizes them. The most important Republican debate, it seems to me, is about the role of the US in the world in the 21st Century. Hegemon? Democratizer? Or simply great power? On this, the reformicons are silent. Their predecessors in the debates of the 1970s weren’t.

But maybe I’m being too glum. There are always unforeseen events to alter the future. Reagan’s 1980 victory was not seen until a few weeks before the November election. It’s certainly possible, although unlikely, that a Republican could win the presidency in 2016. But what I’d look for in the meantime in the reformicon future is what contribution they could make in the last two years of the Obama presidency. If the GOP controls both Houses, the country might look to them for some legislative action that the president could sign onto. If the country sees signs of actual policy progress, affecting their actual lives, thanks to reform conservative ideas and a pragmatic liberal president, then the atmosphere could change. Alas, I see the likelihood of that, in our current context, and in the run-up to 2016, to be close to impossible. It may take another epic national defeat for the GOP to take the reformers seriously. It took three consecutive lost national elections for the Tories to find Cameron. And part of me thinks that the best hope for the reformicons in the long run will be a Hillary Clinton victory in 2016.

I wonder how many of them, as they go to sleep at night, have quietly agreed with that.

GE Brings Vox To Life

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 4 2014 @ 3:18pm

The enmeshment of the new media site with corporate interests – in which Vox writes ad-copy for big companies, while also claiming to cover them objectively – is not new to Ezra Klein:

GE provided crucial support for media startup, an explanatory-journalism site launched by former Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein, with whom it already had a working relationship. While Mr. Klein was still at the Post, GE courted him and others for a news website and marketing campaign in development. When Mr. Klein left to join Vox, GE and its ad dollars followed. The GE site, launched after Mr. Klein left the Post, aggregated video clips and content featuring the blogger, along with Fox News’s Bret Baier, Politico’s Mike Allen and others, discussing and expounding on the news.

The advertiser had “absolutely zero influence” on’s editorial content, said Jim Bankoff, chief executive of parent company Vox Media. But both GE and Vox have a similar audience in mind: young, relatively affluent and policy savvy. For GE, the purpose of the relationship was to get GE in the minds of policy makers and lawmakers on Capitol Hill. “We want to target the DC millennials,” said Linda Boff, who heads GE’s global brand marketing. The Vox sponsorship ended in August.

The merger of corporate interests and what’s left of journalism is only getting deeper. And the younger generation of liberal journalists is leading the way, and is shocked, shocked that anyone might question the appearance of blatant conflicts of interest. But a reader wants to make a distinction:

In your post “Ezra Sells Out“, you seem to be confusing Vox, which is Ezra Klein & Co’s media venture, with Vox Media, the overarching company that owns along with a number of other media outlets like Polygon and Curbed.

I don’t disagree with the brunt of your post, but it seems a bit underhanded to title the post “Ezra Sell Out” when it is likely that Ezra Klein probably does not have much agency in the story here. I just think using Ezra’s name here implies that he’s responsible for this, when really this decision is being made by Nelson and Bankoff, who run Vox Media at large.

Fair point. Another reader:

Sure, you may have confused Vox Media with Ezra’s Vox news venture.  But perhaps you should dig a bit deeper into Vox Media.  Forget the CEO; he’s just a hired gun.  Who really owns Vox Media?  Who, to put it a better way, is the Andrew Sullivan of the Vox Media empire?  Perhaps not Ezra (though both he and Mathew Yglesia are listed on the Vox Media leadership page as Vox Founders) but rather … Jerome “MyDD” Armstrong and Markos “Daily Kos” Moulitsas.  For all their screaming, shrieking, progressive liberal “corporations are not people” expose the truth reputations, they ought to know better.

And of course, is it not just a hair bit ironic that in one company you have perhaps the four giants (Kos, MyDD, Ezra, Yglesias) of the early progressive blogosphere?   One could only imagine the feigned outrage they would project if, say, Glenn Reynolds and PJ Media started drafting ad copy for the Koch Brothers, Halliburton, and the NRA and then claimed to be completely unbiased.

Meanwhile, it’s worth looking back at our coverage of Vox when it was first announced back in January:

[Vox Media CEO Jim] Bankoff told Ad Age that he has no intention of “tricking anyone” with alternative forms of advertising such as sponsored content or “native” ads — which other new-media growth stories such as BuzzFeed have said they believe are a key part of the future of content. Instead, the Vox CEO said he is counting on Vox’s ability to produce better-quality display ads that will bring in more revenue than the standard banner or site takeover. As he described it:

“We really are in the process of reinventing what brand advertising can be on the web… we believe it can be engaging and beautiful and well integrated [and] fully transparent — we’re not trying to trick anyone like some native ads do…

The beat, it goes on …

Exit Ezra, Smiling

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 21 2014 @ 11:04am

The New Yorker's David Remnick Hosts White House Correspondents' Dinner Weekend Pre-Party

The last few years have been fascinating to watch as new media stars have both benefited from and then fallen out with big media companies. Nate Silver is the obvious example. He went from being an independent blogger – heavily linked by the Dish among other new media sites – to becoming the true star of the NYT’s 2012 election coverage. Then he and the NYT could not figure out a mutually beneficial deal, and he quit to run a new 538-style site at It won’t launch for a bit (maybe March, I hear). But ESPN, as they showed with Bill Simmons’s original blog and now Grantland, is one of the very few big media outlets to find a way to a win-win proposition with Internet stars.

Or think of Glenn Greenwald. First an immediate blogging sensation; then Salon, then the Guardian and now … working on his own news-and-opinion website, with a massive global brand, funded by the founder of eBay. The WSJ’s Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg are also now exiting the WSJ’s employ to start their own site. The Dish’s story – until last year – was also a story of trying – and failing – to get a win-win arrangement with media companies interested in allying with us.

The truly frustrating thing about all this is that it was surely in everyone’s interests to stick together – legacy media with new media stars is a win-win proposition. And yet almost every time – the one exception I can think of may be Andrew Ross Sorkin’s Dealbook – the deals have unraveled. The egos of legacy media honchos and the energy of new media stars could not quite get along. Mutual resentment, the thorny question of compensation, and the power of personal brands all played a part.

For some, the entire model of individually branded content is a dismaying idea.

Michael Wolff cannot understand it.  His best shot at a description is that we are “less interested in the publishing business per se than in a kind of channel purity and deepness.” But then, Wolff is a big believer in old-school massive media conglomerates, is one of Rupert Murdoch’s primary hagiographers, and with respect to Roger Ailes, makes Mike Allen look like a footnote in the annals of brown-nosing. Today, he’s celebrating the end of net neutrality, so that big media companies – owned by the super-rich – can begin monopolizing again. He finds it mysterious that some writers might actually be in new media not just for the money but also for the freedom to say what they want whenever they want in ways not constrained by highers-up. I’m not so mystified.

Which leads me simply to wish Ezra the best of luck. There are many models going forward, and Ezra may not be content with the Dish’s slow, organic, reader-funded evolution. But we do not exactly have a surplus of trying to find new profitable models for non-listicle, non-sponsored-content journalism. If Ezra can help with that, he can help all of us, but especially readers. Not all of them want to read the stuff that only very, very wealthy corporations think is fit to publish. They might even forgive a few niche interests and quirkiness in the process.

Update from a reader:

You wrote:

The egos of legacy media honchos and the energy of new media stars could not quite get along. Mutual resentment, the thorny question of compensation, and the power of personal brands all played a part.

I think this phenomenon is more general. I have known numerous tech companies that were acquired by behemoths, or spun off as subsidiaries rather than independent companies. I worked for one of them. In every case, the management of the parent swore on a stack of Bibles that they wouldn’t interfere with the entrepreneurial culture of the new venture (as if they knew what the word “entrepreneurial” meant). In each case they couldn’t resist meddling, with serious and sometimes fatal consequences for the spinoff.

There were many reasons, of course: financial straits, changes in corporate strategy, new competitors. But I think the common denominator is the irrevocable human tendency to prefer control over success.

Brilliantly put.

(Photo: Journalist Ezra Klein attends The New Yorker’s David Remnick Hosts White House Correspondents’ Dinner Weekend Pre-Party at W Hotel Rooftop on April 26, 2013 in Washington, DC. By Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The New Yorker.)

Journalism’s Surrender, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 2 2014 @ 11:27am

A reader writes:

Thank you for continuing to cover the state of journalism today. I thoroughly enjoyed what you had to say about Time Inc’s remodeling – a development that I would not have known about were it not for the Dish – as well as your continued attention to the Mike Allen fiasco. It is disturbing that the media hasn’t covered the rise of revenue-based journalism more, and I’m glad that you keep drawing our attention to the issue.

To pile on, I just read the Playboy article by BuzzfeedBen about how social media – by which he really means Buzzfeed, with its tens of thousands of viral, share-worthy listicles – will “save journalism,” and I’m very much looking forward to your take on it. I say that not just because you’re mentioned briefly in that piece (as one of the pioneers of the political blogger revolution), but because he has some truly interesting defenses of Buzzfeed’s journalism/business model, including one section where he says that sponsored content is like the “beautiful, well-produced” advertizing one might see in Vogue and actually enhances the product rather than detracts from it. In another section, he seems to compare – bizarrely – the popularity of lists like “108 Reasons Corgis Really Are That Great” to the renewed interest in long-form journalism.

Of course, BuzzfeedBen doesn’t actually address any of the arguments against sponsored content (other than noting that it is “controversial” in some parts) or the virality-at-all-costs mindset of sites like Buzzfeed. The only criticism that he spends any time considering is the reader preference for sharing warm, fuzzy, inspirational news over more sobering items, but he also pooh-poohs that away as a “small-bore complaint” – because hey, in the end, Buzzfeed hires a lot of journalists and gets people to read a lot of “news,” and that’s what we all want for the industry, right?

To that end, I found Luke O’Neil’s Esquire essay, “The Year We Broke The Internet,” to be a great companion piece for the Playboy article. (O’Neil’s piece actually came out about a week before BuzzfeedBen’s, but I found it more informative to read Smith’s first, and then O’Neil’s.) Whereas BuzzfeedBen insists that Buzzfeed still values the same things old journalism valued – speed, hilarity, accuracy, originality – without ever acknowledging how that site’s business model has compromised the latter two values in favor of the first two, O’Neil skewers Buzzfeed’s hypocrisy (while admitting that he has also played a part in this race to the bottom). My favorite quote from his piece:

Among all the things I’ve written this year, the ones that took the least amount of time and effort usually did the most traffic. The more in-depth, reported pieces didn’t stand a chance against riffs on things predestined to go viral. That’s the secret that Upworthy, BuzzFeed, MailOnline, Viral Nova, and their dozens of knockoffs have figured out: You don’t need to write anymore – just write a good headline and point. If what you’re pointing at turns out to be a steaming turd, well, then repackage the steam and sell it back to us.

So much of the O’Neil essay encapsulates what bothers me about the accountability-free, pageviews-first mentality of Buzzfeed, even if the site does have some credible journalists who do good, original work (a point that O’Neil also addresses). I enjoy and am grateful for Chris Geidner’s tireless coverage of LGBT issues, for example, but I absolutely hate when he churns out some listicle whose sole effect is to pull eyeballs away from another journalist’s work, like his 13 highlights of Jennifer Senior’s New York interview with Justice Scalia – which was literally just a bunch of screenshots off the NYMag site, with no extra commentary.

Anyway, that’s the end of my rant. Happy New Year to you and the rest of the Dish Team! I’m really looking forward to another year of excellent coverage from you guys, and I’m definitely going to re-subscribe in February.

Meanwhile, another reader smells something fishy from another corner of the Internet:

Just in time for the new year, here’s another addition to the hall of shame of “sponsored content” posing as online journalism. The top spot on the new, confusingly re-designed website for the online magazine Slate features a story by one Jordan D. Metzl with the fast-breaking news that exercise is good for you. The story’s content usefully summarizes a new book on the subject by none other than … Jordan D. Metzl. In case the reader misses the mentions of the book in the article itself, or in the blurb about the author at the end (all with links to the book’s page on Amazon), the text is accompanied by a large photo of the book’s cover, which is also clickable to the Amazon page, and features a smiling photo of … Jordan D. Metzl.

Nowhere is this piece of blatant puffery tagged as “sponsored content,” yet it is impossible to believe that Slate paid money to its author.  And so the insidious infiltration of online journalism by prepaid material continues.  We should all resolve to exercise more in the new year.  But I’d like to hope that Slate, which was such an early pioneer of online journalism, would make a new year’s resolution to back away from this pernicious practice before its credibility with faithful readers like me is lost forever.

Update from a reader:

The reader who considers the Jordan D. Metzl article in Slate to be a kind of “sponsored content” is all wet. Authors summarizing their arguments or excerpting from their new books in periodicals are taking part in a time-honored practice that benefits everyone. The author gets a chance to sell a book. The magazine gets some potentially valuable content. Readers get the chance to learn about a book they may want to read in its entirety, or to learn after a few paragraphs that it is a turkey to be avoided, or to absorb the essence for free and decide that’s enough. No one is pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes. Such stories are a feature of the magazine form, now extended to the web.

Another also doesn’t seem a problem:

Oh, come on, this kind of promotion is at least the second oldest profession. Remember when so many featured articles in Tina Brown’s New Yorker were outtakes from upcoming Random House books, a company run by her husband Harold Evans?  It’s everywhere, all the time. I find it useful: it saves me buying, borrowing or even reading the book.

The Best Of The Dish Today

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 19 2013 @ 10:19pm

Scuba Santa Claus Explores Massive Coral Reef Tank In San Francisco

Big Duck/Beard Day here at the Dish – but I have to give the prize of this culture war explosion to Rush Limbaugh. It really is a quote of the year:

Well, I just found out what a butt plug was. I didn’t even know.

Yeah, right. You want to know what I think? Leave. Phil. Robertson. Alone. Or stop using rednecks for ratings.

Three posts worth revisiting: a haunting avian Face of the Day; the (misleading) stats on teen pot use; and why that Obamacare “death spiral” is largely hype. Bonus late-night link: Pareene’s genius Mike Allen parody. 

The most popular post? A&E Cannot Bear Very Much Reality. Second? My Deep Dish essay on the meaning of Pope Francis: Untier of Knots.

See you in the morning.

(Photo: California Academy of Sciences diver George Bell wears a Santa Claus suit as he dives in the Academy’s Philippine Coral Reef tank on December 19, 2013 in San Francisco, California. By Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)