Note by the Saker: today, with his kind permission, I am posting an article by Ron Unz originally posted here. While this article deals with something specific which has happened at The American Conservative, I am sure that there are many amongst you who will immediately see the parallels with some, lets call them, recent “changes of course” we have recently observed in the Russia-oriented blogosphere. Simply put – to cater to specific political interests might give you a short-term advantage but in the long run it is always self-defeating. I will not polemicize with those who chose that path – not publicly, not privately. But I am offering Ron’s article as a valuable insight into what happens to those who chose to follow such a path. Finally, I want to most sincerely thank Ron Unz for this support. The Saker
Some may be aware that when I originally established The Unz Review over four years ago one of my main motives was to have a convenient venue for my own writing, a situation necessitated by my removal as Publisher of The American Conservative. However, other matters intervened, and all but a few months of my time since then have been preoccupied with software development issues and politics, but now at very long last I do hope to return to that original purpose.
Shortly after my departure from TAC in Fall 2013, I had written an article recounting the unfortunate circumstances, and this had attracted some interest from editors at The Atlantic. But they not unreasonably balked at the length, and soon afterward I was drawn into a major campaign to implement my proposal of a huge hike in the American Minimum Wage, an effort that eventually helped establish it as a central economic pillar of the Democratic Party; this was soon followed by other endeavors, mostly on software matters. Over the years, various people have expressed curiosity about my TAC story, which remained unpublished, and with the fifth anniversary of my defenestration now upon us, I’ve decided I might as well release it in its original form, changing scarcely a single word though updating some of the links. Five years represents an eternity in political journalism, and various events and personalities have surely lapsed into obscurity, but such is the price paid for historical authenticity.
Given hindsight, I’d consider myself satisfied with the ultimate outcome. The Review currently operates on an absolute shoestring while the editorial budget of TAC these days is an order-of-magnitude larger, covering the costs of a full-time staff of seven or eight. But according to Alexa.com our readership passed theirs six months ago, and has been substantially higher every week since. Possibly for these sorts of reasons, TAC recently named yet another new top editor, with Benjamin Schwarz becoming the third in eighteen months. And aside from providing some of the background to the creation of The Review and helping to explain its eclectic ideological focus, I think my story also serves as an example of why so many small publications tend to blur their editorial line over time, lured by mainstream respectability and resources, a process that seems to have recently claimed the late Alex Cockburn’s once fiercely-independent Counterpunch.
On June 12th, 2013 I was having an unusually lengthy phone conversation with Daniel McCarthy, editor of The American Conservative (TAC). I live in Silicon Valley, three thousand miles away from DC, and despite holding the nominal title of publisher my involvement with TAC business operations had usually been negligible, amounting to just a few minutes a week on the phone. But I had grown alarmed over the lack of any major new donations since January, and had begun urging McCarthy to make the cuts in expenses necessary for the publication’s survival, while lobbying the board on the same subject. Web traffic had also been sharply declining for six or seven months, suggesting the need for a change in editorial focus. And several months earlier, TAC had cut its print frequency in half to just six issues a year while doubling the annual subscription rate to $60, thus quadrupling the per issue cost to an unreasonable $10, a pricing decision I’d strongly questioned at the time and now believed we needed to reverse.
Despite my tradition of operational disengagement, I felt comfortable pressing these points. Since late 2006 I had provided some 70% of TAC’s total funding, and even after converting the publication into a non-profit in 2010, I had still remained TAC’s largest donor during 2012, while also serving as chairman. TAC had come close to shutting down on a couple of previous occasions and I wanted to avoid taking such a risk again, especially since over the last year or two I had begun regularly publishing some of my own articles in the magazine.
Finally, at the end of the call I asked McCarthy whether he’d yet had a chance to prepare a redlined edit copy of the new article I’d submitted a couple of weeks earlier and on which he’d previously suggested one or two minor changes that I had subsequently made. To my enormous surprise, he informed me that he’d decided to flatly reject the entire piece—an analytical study of American urban crime rates—as representing the sort of racially-inflammatory material that had no place in a quality magazine such as TAC. He instead suggested that a more appropriate venue for my article would be one of the webzines categorized as White Nationalist hate-sites by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
After a few stunned words on my part, I hung up the phone and almost immediately received an emailing McCarthy had sent out to his undisclosed distribution list, harshly criticizing my behavior while repeating his same charges in more measured terms, describing the subject of my article as “a distraction from TAC’s mission” and something that would “fatally detract” from TAC’s advocacy of “the case for noninterventionism and restricting executive power.” I soon discovered that my TAC blogging privileges had also been terminated, banning me from the website. Later, my access to TAC’s ongoing website traffic information was eliminated. So more than six years after becoming TAC’s publisher, I had been summarily purged.
For several weeks I made frustrating attempts to gain support from the other members of TAC’s governing board. But they had spent years just as totally disengaged as myself from TAC’s operations and had absolutely no desire to involve themselves in what they perceived as some sort of rancorous personal dispute. During this period I did my best to avoid publicizing my situation, partly because I found it so humiliating, but finally in late July National Review learned of this simmering controversy and solicited an interview. Initially I hesitated, but seeing that TAC—after rejecting my article as “a distraction”—had covered its homepage for several days straight with articles about British rock bands, zombies, giant robots, and cartoon characters, I became angry enough to provide my side of the story to the media. Three days after NR ran its short he said-she said item, TAC’s board convened in a special Sunday phone session to remove me, formalizing what had already occurred.
Although I regarded the denunciation of my article mostly as a pretext to eliminate my pressure on business matters and also a means of petty retaliation, one member of the TAC board did see the piece as central to the dispute. In subsequent exchanges, Founding Editor Scott McConnell, with whom I’d previously been on quite friendly terms, strongly opposed publication of my analysis, steadily growing more strident in his opinion that running such an article would severely damage TAC’s hard-won reputation; and therein lies a fascinating tale.
The American Conservative had been founded in 2002 as a rightwing alternative to National Review by McConnell, Pat Buchanan, and Taki Theodoracopulos, with Taki providing the financial backing. From its earliest days TAC had always represented “the Buchananite perspective” across both foreign and domestic policy, with McConnell having previously served as a senior advisor to Buchanan’s 2000 Presidential campaign, and Buchanan himself playing an early role as a guiding influence for the magazine, although without much day-to-day involvement.
Deep concerns over the dangers of non-European immigration had long been central to McConnell’s personal ideology, and the strength of his views had cost him his editorial position at the New York Post and his access to the pages of NR, after which he had joined with Peter Brimelow to co-found VDare, the hard-core anti-immigration website. Especially during its early years, TAC had often appeared as VDare’s somewhat more restrained print sibling, sharing many of the same writers, topics, and perspectives.
After various quarrels and disputes between the partners, McConnell was running the magazine by himself in 2006. As partial heir to the Avon fortune, he had invested a few hundred thousand dollars of his own inherited wealth to keep the publication alive, but was unwilling to contribute any additional funds and had decided to shut TAC down at the end of that year. I’d become slightly acquainted with him since 2000, and in late 2006 he desperately sought my financial help in rescuing his magazine.
TAC’s opportunity to escape its narrow rightwing niche had come from the reluctance of almost any American opinion magazines to strongly challenge President Bush’s foreign policy adventures during the early 2000s, which allowed the publication to draw in distinguished liberal and moderate contributors, eager for a print magazine platform enabling them to express their otherwise silenced views. I fell into that same ideological category and had been greatly impressed by TAC’s uniquely vigorous opposition to Bush’s foreign wars, which I regarded as totally disastrous for the country.
Thus, when McConnell approached me, I responded favorably, and soon afterward became TAC’s owner, eventually covering over $3 million of operating losses during the years that followed. Although McConnell had retained the title of editor, his involvement in the magazine’s operations had been rather meager for some time, with most of the work being done by Kara Hopkins, his exceptionally able executive editor. Our arrangement was that the two of them would continue to actually run the magazine, while I merely provided the necessary funding.
To my surprise, McConnell also named me publisher and put my name at the top of his masthead, presumably as a means of more firmly binding my crucial financial support to his publication. So I ended up with titular authority over a small DC opinion journal—almost invariably labelled “Pat Buchanan’s Magazine”—despite living on the other side of the country and being totally preoccupied with my own work. I don’t think I actually visited the TAC office more than once every year or two, when other matters brought me out to DC, though most weeks I did try to briefly touch base with the editors by phone.
An important aspect of TAC’s domestic policy agenda still consisted of strident criticism of non-white immigrants and their supposed incompatibility with American society, a position I found distasteful or even ridiculous, but a cross I was willing to bear on behalf of my far more crucial foreign policy concerns. During my discussions about becoming TAC’s owner, I had pledged to allow the editors a free hand to continue publishing their same domestic policy views, and I believe I kept that promise.
Indeed, just a couple of months after I assumed control, my commitment was tested when one of their junior editors angrily resigned from the magazine over what he regarded as a totally unfair cover story on Barack Obama’s personal racial identity, and soon after published a harsh denunciation of TAC’s racialist orientation in the pages of the prestigious Washington Monthly. Although my own perspective was actually along the similar lines, I never gave the TAC editors any problems over this unanticipated early scandal in the DC media.
In the years that followed, similar sorts of racial absurdities, sometimes backed by doubtful factual claims, would periodically appear in a magazine that bore my name at the top of the masthead, but I never made any complaints. After all, most other conservative political magazines also published such nonsense, though perhaps less extreme, while liberal and leftist publications usually maintained their own unrealistic dogmas on all sorts of subjects. TAC’s line on foreign policy remained excellent, and the publication therefore continued to attract submissions from numerous outstanding academics and journalists, many of whom probably shared my own feelings. I allowed Kara Hopkins and Scott McConnell to run the magazine as they saw fit, and was always extremely impressed by the general quality of the writing and editing of each issue I happened to examine
Throughout this period, my own foreign policy and national security views had remained identical to those of my old friend Bill Odom, the three-star general who had run the NSA for Ronald Reagan. Gen. Odom’s outspokenness was always an inspiration to me, and after the media revealed the vast scope of illegal post-9/11 NSA eavesdropping in 2005, he publicly declared that the NSA Director responsible for those violations should be court-martialed and President Bush impeached. My first and only article for TAC during this period was a tribute to his exemplary career after his untimely death in 2008.
For various reasons, TAC seemed to gradually soften its focus on immigration and other racial issues during the last three or four years, perhaps with my own early 2010 analysis of Hispanic crime rates causing some rethinking of long-held assumptions. While I welcomed this trend, I never pushed it along, aside from occasionally publishing articles presenting my own views. It is notable that two of DC’s most vilified recent figures—Jason Richwine and Jack Hunter—had both remained welcome in the pages of TAC during this period, the former with a lengthy review arguing that genetics explained the low IQ of certain racial groups and the latter as a regular columnist.
Given TAC’s long history of transgressing the boundaries of acceptable opinion on racial matters, what could possibly have been so disturbing about my own article? I had produced a careful 7,000 word quantitative analysis of public data that explicitly avoided suggesting causal explanations, while offering a variety of insights cutting across ideological lines. After all, the subject of race and crime soon dominated America’s headlines in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, and several of Harvard University’s most eminent social scientists sent me favorable comments once they read my piece.
The topic is certainly a delicate one, but hiding from factual reality is hardly the best means of coping with social problems. Indeed, my introduction had actually cited the notorious case of the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, noting that the vicious attacks he received for his 1965 report on the grim state of the black American family had hardly been a proud day in American intellectual life. In past decades, I think my article might have found a natural home in the pages of The Public Interest, edited by Irving Kristol and Nathan Glazer.
I suspect that certain of TAC’s editors found my piece so alarming precisely because they feared that even a cautious and sober discussion of such racial matters might draw unwelcome attention to more than a decade of previous TAC articles in the same general area, many of them far less cautious and sober. The defensiveness and hostility that comes from having a very guilty conscience on racial issues is something I had previously encountered in American politics.
Consider the bizarre ideological contortions of the California Republican Party during the mid-1990s. For purely political reasons nearly all its prominent figures had wholeheartedly endorsed an appalling 1994 measure to summarily expel 300,000 immigrant children from their state’s local public schools, even though the majority of those children were native-born American citizens; the same law also mandated five-year prison sentences for any immigrant mother who attempted to prevent this. But once the inevitable backlash occurred and the Republicans realized they had set their state party on the road to oblivion, they desperately reversed every one of their related ideological positions. When I began my 1997 campaign to require that California not only enroll immigrant children in school but also teach them English, those same Republican leaders opposed my initiative with equal unanimity, sometimes darkly hinting that I was motivated by personal hatred toward immigrants or Hispanics. A few years later I described this ironic national situation in a WSJ piece entitled “The Bilingual Burden of Republican Guilt.”
Similarly, the legacy of having published a decade’s worth of mistaken and often inflammatory articles on racial topics had now convinced those same TAC editors that they must avoid the subject of race almost entirely, even when it moved to the absolute center of the national conversation. On the Monday following George Zimmerman’s acquittal, almost every media publication in America—left, right, and center—gave the topic wall-to-wall headline coverage. But TAC’s lead story that day discussed the Congressional Farm Bill, and it never ran a single major article on the subject, with its most substantial coverage being a later blog post by a recently promoted intern praising President Obama’s speech on the controversy. A couple of weeks earlier TAC had also completely ignored the crucial Supreme Court rulings on the Voting Rights Act and on the Fisher case challenging a half-century of affirmative action policies. Perhaps this was what Attorney General Eric Holder had meant when he criticized America for being a “nation of cowards” on the subject of race.
The collision between TAC’s editorial skittishness and my own work was inevitable, and sooner or later a conflict would surely have occurred. For the last twenty years, race, ethnicity, and social policy have been the main focus of my writings, and my personal website contains hundreds of articles and columns I have written on immigration, bilingual education, affirmative action, and other racially-charged topics. I have always found these issues both important and interesting, with the advantage that such dangerous minefields draw relatively few researchers, thereby providing me a less-crowded niche for exploration. And for better or for worse, my views have scarcely changed in decades, with articles I wrote long ago probably representing my current position almost as well as something I published last month.
Indeed, my first appearance in the conservative media came in the form of a lengthy letter on American urban crime and violence that run in a 1992 Commentary symposium, and I stand by those same words today. Although Commentary and TAC are usually considered ideological arch-foes, in 1999 I published a lengthy Commentary cover story entitled “California and the End of White America” while in 2011 I followed it up with an even lengthier TAC sequel bearing the similar title “Immigration, Republicans, and the End of White America.” American society had undergone significant changes across those dozen years and the two pieces differed in their focus, but otherwise their perspectives fit together as well as a matched set of book-ends. My opinions may or may not be correct, but at least they have remained consistent over time.
I believe my positions are based on evidence and solid analysis, and can withstand the criticism of my opponents. When my aforementioned Hispanic Crime article ran, it provoked a vast outpouring of exceptionally hostile responses both on the TAC website and across the Internet, which I later collected together as The Hispanic Crime Debate. Last year, my controversial Race/IQ series was just as strongly condemned by outraged racialists, and I gathered all their numerous attacks together in The Race/IQ Debate. I felt I had nothing to fear by assisting readers in considering all sides of these arguments and drawing their own conclusions. For the same reason I strongly supported TAC’s regular tradition of publishing a presidential endorsement symposium, in which a wide range of different perspectives were presented, some of which would surely never be found in mainstream publications.
In fact, I considered this part of TAC’s broader mission, namely to provide a congenial home for a wide variety of controversial or unorthodox views located outside the NYT-to-WSJ spectrum that represents permissible political commentary in our society. A magazine calling itself “The American Conservative” would naturally skew its perspectives toward the Right, but TAC could still provide ample room for opinions considered too far Left for DC respectability. In general, I think TAC did a pretty good job of fulfilling this goal during my time as publisher, though in hindsight that openness may have begun fading a couple of years ago.
In early 2011 we were contacted by Wick Allison, who introduced himself as the successful semi-retired publisher of D Magazine, billing itself as Dallas’ leading local guide to restaurants and nightlife. Allison had worked at National Review a quarter-century earlier and TAC was brought to his attention by his daughter, a recent college graduate then working as an intern at The New Republic. He told us he was close to TAC’s political positions, especially on foreign policy, and offered to become our CEO on a part-time, volunteer basis, providing the publishing expertise and fund-raising skills we needed to expand beyond our existing small-circulation niche.
Six months earlier I had converted TAC into a non-profit in hopes of obtaining outside financial support, and although some had come in, the donations were hardly enough to keep the publication going. Around the same time, we had suffered the severe loss of Editor Kara Hopkins, the shaping force behind each issue, who had been lured away by the U.S. government, thereby elevating her subordinate McCarthy to the top editorial slot. Since neither I nor any of the other board members were in a position to provide the time and effort to fill such an executive role and TAC’s tiny surviving staff was agreeable, Allison’s offer was readily accepted.
After some initial slow-going, he soon seemed to hit his stride and during a three month period, he raised several times more external funding than TAC’s entire total for the previous year, validating our hopes. Part of this support was earmarked to hire Rod Dreher, a popular blogger whose themes often related to Christianity; this represented something of a departure for TAC, which had never previously touched much on religious topics.
With Dreher’s personal following providing a major boost to TAC’s website traffic and early fundraising having gone so extremely well, Allison emphasized the need to build up TAC operations to the point where we could attract a multi-million-dollar capital infusion. Although a few of us had quiet misgivings about taking on these large additional expenses, months of highly successful fundraising made our doubts seem unreasonable.
Part-time and full-time staff and bloggers were steadily added to the payroll, and some salaries were sharply increased. The compensation of TAC’s business manager was tripled. Allison’s daughter went straight from an Andrew Sullivan internship to being TAC’s second highest paid editorial employee. The salary of one of TAC’s longtime bloggers was increased seven-fold, although his readership in mid-2012 was roughly the same as it had been in 2010 or 2011. During the course of about one year, TAC’s full-time editorial and business staff grew from two or three to a total of seven, while the number of its regular bloggers rose from one to four. I also later discovered that TAC seemed to be paying most of these bloggers five to ten times the going market rate relative to the traffic they generated. Hiring staff and raising salaries inevitably follows the Ratchet Principle: easy to increase but very painful and difficult to later cut. According to public IRS Form 990s, TAC’s operational expenses grew by two-thirds between 2010 and 2012, greatly increasing the burden of meeting every monthly payroll.
And unfortunately that early burst of large donations was never again matched, with top prospect after top prospect either turning Allison down or providing just a small fraction of the support he requested, while a direct mail appeal proved extremely unsuccessful. But TAC now needed to regularly obtain large donations just to survive. On a number of occasions, I had to write a sizable check to keep TAC’s lights on, and I became increasingly doubtful about the publication’s future, deciding that it had had a good run while it lasted.
In late 2012, Allison urgently sought an immediate $60,000 donation from me to bridge the financial gap until one of his strongest prospects came through. Then two weeks after I had sent my check he left me a phone message saying that TAC was totally out of funds, and therefore would be laying off its entire staff and shutting down. At that point I decided I had done all I could.
But as it happened, my 30,000 word article The Myth of American Meritocracy had just been published in what was scheduled to be TAC’s final issue, and the piece began creating quite a stir in the media, with David Brooks ranking it as among America’s best magazine articles for the year and The New York Times organizing a symposium on the college admissions questions it raised. On a more practical level, the thirty days that followed brought in as large a total of new donations as had arrived during the preceding nine months, together with an even greater sum in firm future commitments. After reaching the brink of extinction, TAC was now granted a second chance to achieve solid financial footing.
Such mundane financial difficulties experienced by a small business that over-expands are hardly of any interest to the outside world. But during 2012 and 2013 they probably had an increasingly pernicious impact upon the sort of articles TAC published, which constituted the sole reason for its existence.
A single example illustrates the problem. In late August 2012 TAC published “Revolt of the Rich” an outstanding critique of our corrupt economic policies written by a former longtime Republican Congressional staffer, and the piece quickly became the most successful in TAC history, generating enormous readership and attracting a great deal of attention. But when Allison soon afterward sought urgent funds from one of TAC’s larger donors, his request was angrily rejected on the grounds that the publication had begun promoting “class warfare.” We never received another dollar from that former contributor.
I learned of this unfortunate incident by chance, and I am sure there were many others as well, with various past or prospective donors complaining about particular TAC articles and writers whose material challenged their comfort zone. Few wealthy individuals do much independent thinking on ideology or policy so they tend to merely echo the views of the prominent Democratic and Republican pundits they follow in the mainstream media. TAC probably came under pressure to achieve greater respectability by doing the same.
For whatever reason, I began noticing over the last year or two that more and more of the bold voices whom I had first encountered at TAC no longer seemed to appear, and their places had been taking by establishmentarian commentary, much of which seemed to come from far down in the slush-pile of ordinary submissions to the op-ed pages of major American newspapers. I had often sharply disagreed with much of TAC’s material in the past, but had always found it interesting; now I encountered far fewer such disagreements, but the articles seemed dull and safely mainstream.
The growing desire of TAC to become a political “player” in DC circles was also problematic. Jack Hunter—a.k.a. “the Southern Avenger”—had gone from being a regular TAC columnist to becoming a senior staffer to newly elected Sen. Rand Paul, and with growing talk of Paul considering a possible 2016 presidential bid, Hunter apparently became a powerful influence at TAC, resulting in a great deal of Rand Paul boosterism. I also later learned that TAC had begun regularly rejecting articles critical of Rand Paul or his father Ron Paul, even if the material was original and important and might have gained TAC greater visibility in the larger media landscape.
Another factor that may have led TAC astray was its discovery that adopting “liberal” ideological positions tended to attract enormous temporary traffic. Articles endorsing Gay Marriage or advocating gun control drew huge attention from liberal outlets and pundits, eager to spread the word that “even Pat Buchanan’s rightwing magazine” now supported their position. The problem was that the liberal readers who arrived to read those articles gradually realized that TAC wasn’t all that liberal a website and soon departed, while much of TAC’s conservative readership was permanently driven away by such material. “Man Bites Dog” articles only gain attention a few times before they become passé.
This development also had an unfortunate impact upon the TAC’s influence on national security matters. As TAC increasingly rejected or avoided most hot-button conservative issues, fewer and fewer people continued to regard it as “conservative” in any meaningful sense, so TAC’s strong stance on American foreign wars or civil liberties concerns became no different from that of so many other liberal, moderate, or libertarian publications. Its unique value as a dissenting conservative voice was lost.
Certainly none of these venal sins were any worse than those regularly committed by so many other media outlets, but the only advantages enjoyed by a tiny publication such as TAC had been its journalistic integrity and its willingness to ignore the boundaries of respectable punditry and establishment media opinion. Former Bush speechwriter David Frum had famously issued a 2003 fatwa excommunicating all the “unpatriotic conservatives” aligned with TAC for their strong opposition to the Iraq War, but by late 2012 he was praising TAC for finally having become a responsible media outlet, which may or may not have been much of a compliment.
For years TAC had occupied an almost vacant media niche, but once so many of its articles began falling safely within the boundaries of mainstream media opinion, it began competing against dozens of other publications offering similar commentary on the Internet, many of them backed by vastly greater resources and featuring far more prominent writers. Dreher’s Christianity-tinged punditry remained hugely popular, but between November 2012 and June 2013 the remainder of TAC’s content traffic dropped by almost 60%, although no comparable post-election decline seemed to occur at some other political websites. Why would people read TAC if they had already read something similar in their morning newspapers?
As TAC’s publisher and largest donor, my own articles had mostly remained immune from these growing restrictions, which is why it took me so long to discover they were being implemented. Although none of my writings had ever neatly fit into TAC’s original rightwing Buchananite ideology, I also doubt that most of them could have appeared in a mainstream media outlet in anything like their existing form, and that probably contributed to their considerable success. During the past two years, I had published four TAC cover stories, and these had been ranked #1, #2, #3, and #5 in total readership, averaging more than eight times the traffic of TAC’s other cover pieces. Taking risks is the only way a tiny publication can have any impact, but the desperate fear of alienating possible donors forced TAC to move in exactly the opposite direction.
At the end of April, my “American Pravda” article critiquing our dishonest national media was scheduled to run as the cover, with the artwork having already been produced. But just before the issue closed, Allison demanded that it be replaced, arguing that the focus on old news was unlikely to attract much interest and the harsh criticism of The New York Times seemed totally unreasonable; I strongly suspect he actually feared that my controversial claims would scare off timorous donors. After a heated argument, I finally acquiesced, and the piece nonetheless quickly became my second most successful ever, attracting almost twenty-five times the readership of the bland hagiography of Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy that replaced it on the cover. That incident was how I discovered that so many other TAC writers had previously encountered similar problems.
It became obvious to me that financial pressures were a leading factor behind this growing reluctance to publish controversial material, and after I received my copy of TAC’s 2012 federal tax return, I was struck by the large growth in operating expenses. The existing staffing levels seemed completely disproportionate to TAC’s actual output.
Leaving aside the postings of its regular bloggers, TAC usually published just a single main article each day on its website plus a couple of short blog posts, with the material generally provided by outside paid contributors or sometimes even syndicated columnists. It seemed incomprehensible to me how this minimal workload required seven full-time editorial and business employees, or what most of them did each day. This was certainly a larger staff than had been necessary during the years when TAC published a meticulously edited 35-40 page print magazine every two weeks, with all the attendant effort of meeting strict deadlines in article solicitation, editing, layout, and cover design.
TAC’s print issue frequency had dropped to just six times per year and the website had become the primary means of its distribution, so it was obvious that staffing levels and costs could be drastically reduced without loss of output or quality, bringing expenses into much closer alignment with likely donations. In mid-May I was alarmed to discover that no significant new contributions had arrived since January. Therefore, I soon began pressing this issue with Allison, McCarthy, and my fellow board members. But people hate to admit that their aggressive growth strategy of the last year or two had ultimately proven unsuccessful.
Ideological organizations and publications often confront this exact dilemma. They can remain small, poor, and fiercely independent or they can take the path of growing in size and expense, hoping for greater impact and influence, but usually forcing them to make their peace with the wealthy sources of establishmentarian funding. My own opinion was that since American political journalism already contained such a vast number of different media outlets in the latter category, TAC should avoid merely becoming another one, but I can understand why others might see things differently.
During this heated dispute over TAC’s budgetary problems and strategic direction, I had also been completing my quantitative analysis of urban crime, and I finally submitted my draft at the end of May. If my American Pravda article had made Allison very nervous for its possible impact upon donors, my Race and Crime article must have terrified him, coming as it did soon after the Jason Richwine Affair but several weeks before the George Zimmerman trial eventually pushed that exact same subject to the top of every media outlet in America.
Even more importantly, Allison and my other opponents in the budgetary dispute surely saw denouncing my article as a perfect means of deflecting my financial arguments without addressing them, while undercutting my influence with certain of TAC’s board members and major donors. An accusation of “racial insensitivity” has become an extremely powerful political trump card to play against one’s adversaries in our society, not merely among liberals but these days among conservatives as well.
And that’s the story of why “Pat Buchanan’s Magazine” purged its publisher for submitting a Public Interest-style article analyzing urban crime in America.
- The Myth of Hispanic Crime
- Race/IQ: The Jason Richwine Affair
- Our American Pravda
- Race and Crime in America