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Monday, June 19, 2006

Slate on Slate

For its tenth anniversary, Slate offers a series of guest authors a chance to say "What's Wrong with Slate."  It's a practice I will not be initiating for wedding anniversaries, but the articles -- by Michael Wolff, Eugene Volokh, David Talbot, and Jonah Goldberg -- are worth reading.  Wolff is too vague in his criticisms at times (to say of Michael Kinsley, "I just don't get him," not only doesn't tell us what's wrong with Slate, it doesn't even tell us what's wrong with Michael Kinsley), but nicely, if impressionistically (and yet I think he gets his finger on it), sums up a certain style of "extreme and relentless careerism" that he finds pervades the site.  And while I normally find Jonah Goldberg's columns poor -- I would say that, with Joel Stein, the LA Times is down to one worthwhile columnist -- his description of the problems with Slate's contrarian ways, like those of TNR before it, again hits the mark.

I pass along this recommendation that you take a look with some hesitation.  As Eugene observes, Slate is worth criticizing largely because it's also generally very much worth reading.  And there is still greater cause for hesitation.  These critics coalesce around the view that Slate is filled with bright, overly ambitious, studiously and excessively counterintuitive yet usually reflexively liberal (but only to the extent that the brand of liberalism doesn't challenge class prerogatives or elite institutions), pusillanimous teachers' pets.  Which also describes a substantial proportion of the active blogosphere and, some heretics would suggest, not a small number of the legal academy.  As for members of the legal academy who blog, well....

Present company excepted, of course.   

Posted by Paul Horwitz on June 19, 2006 at 07:20 PM in Article Spotlight | Permalink


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Sorry - conventional.

Posted by: Keith Talent | Jun 20, 2006 12:08:47 AM

"excessively counterintuitive yet usually reflexively liberal"

I'd mash this a bit and describe slate as "reflexively counterintuitive". They should force themselves to do a "why the convential wisdom is right" column. That said, I think Seth Stevenson is incredibly good.

But the "sportswriting" is gadawful.

I'm generally pro-Dahlia but will refrain on commenting further.

Posted by: Keith Talent | Jun 20, 2006 12:08:09 AM

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