Monday, September 08, 2008

Andrew Sullivan and The Atlantic, cont. and Updated!

Following last week's meltdown, Andrew Sullivan floated another unfounded smear against Sarah Palin from his perch over at The Atlantic over the weekend. Dean Barnett has the rundown.

Even MSNBC is reevaluating its HR decisions. Shouldn't David Bradley be doing the same? How long does it take to tear down a century-old reputation?

Update: Galley Friend A.W. sends in another example of Sullivan's shoddy reporting/analysis. Here's A.W.:

Sullivan, referring to "Troopergate," links to an ABC News video and concludes, "Palin clearly lied."

But if you watch the video, you find two things:

(1) Accusations from the fired state official that he believes he was fired because of the brother-in-law; and

(2) Audio recordings that literally include no reference to Palin intending to fire the police commissioner.

It's funny that Sullivan would call this, in effect, a "slam dunk." There's no evidence there! And Sullivan never hesitates to (1) bemoan the Bush administration's reliance on thin evidence in the run-up to the war, or (2) remind us all that "true" conservatives are skeptics.

Update 2: A little Kremlinology: So last night Sullivan posts what reads like a semi-CYA post saying that he really does admire Sarah Palin quite a lot.* Then he posts a nonsensical bit about the NYT Trig Palin story, which somehow suggests that the story was an "exposé" (as per Drudge's promise). (The story wasn't, by-the-by.)

And since then: silence. Well, not total silence, just one wordless picture out a window. People have been emailing me all afternoon speculating that management over at the National Journal group may be dealing with the Sullivan problem in some way. My guess is that he's just in transit somewhere. We'll see.

* A close reading of that semi-endorsement of Palin, however, shows that Sullivan is still peddling the smear that Trig isn't the governor's baby. Look very carefully at Sullivan's wording. He says, "I want to go on record again as saying that the decision to bring up a child with Down Syndrome is one of the most noble, beautiful and admirable decisions any person can make. That Sarah Palin is doing that says a huge amount in favor of her." [emphasis added]

Is it coincidence that Sullivan merely credits Palin with "bringing up" the baby, instead of, you know, "bearing him" or "having him" or "giving birth to him"? I don't think so. It seems pretty clear that even as late as last night, Sullivan was still hinting to readers of The Atlantic that Palin's youngest child isn't actually hers.

Update 3: Other writers for The Atlantic are beginning to address the question of Sullivan's disappearance. Ta-Nehisi Coates has now forbidden commenters from speculating about Sullivan, saying, "Frankly, I have no clue what the situation is--and neither do you."

That sounds kind of ominous. Marc Ambinder says "Lots of e-mails asking about Andrew's whereabouts. I checked in with him; he's fine. He's taking a few days off."

Does this mean that David Bradley has finally stepped in to take control of his magazine? Doesn't this, finally, serve as enough of a hook to get some media reporters to start making phone calls?

Update 4: More speculation. It would be nice to have some actual reporting, though. Romenesko? Kurtz? Anyone?

Update 5: Sullivan speaks! "I'm absolutely fine, nothing has changed with this blog, no one is pressuring me to write or not write anything . . ." Not quite a total denial that there is some friction with management. After all, he'd be free to write anything he wanted at he could do it without embarrassing The Atlantic Monthly.


Unknown said...

Thank you for reading Andrew so I don't have to. I sleep soundly in my bed because rough men like you are ready to visit rhetorical violence on those who would wantonly spread lies.

Anonymous said...

I understand that y'all don't like Andrew Sullivan, everyone's favorite excitable little blogger, but its a little precious to worry about The Atlantic's pristine reputation while writing for the Weekly Standard, which pulls no punches about its partisanship and general attack-dog demeanor.

I tire of Sullivan's antics too, but don't pretend that you've suddenly developed this refined concern for a liberal magazine. It's the ugly season of political politics, and everyone is on their worst behavior. Be a cheerful party apparatchik and be done with it. Leave the concern trolling for more pompous types.


Anonymous said...

The Mechanical Eye:

The Weekly Standard is 12 years old or so, The Atlantic is 100 or so. Furthermore, find me a WS blog post that comes close to the lunacy of "Trig Palin is Not Sarah Palin's Daughter." We're talking "Web Hubbell is Chelsea's real father" type lunacy, and I don't think The Weekly Standard blog or website has ever dealt in that sort of nasty rumor mongering. Furthermore, find me someone on the Weekly Standard Masthead as Sr. Editor that deals in those sort of nasty rumors. The situations are not analogous. One is a partisan conservative publication. The other is an old-media publication with a Sr. Editor that has, in the past 2 weeks, spread the following rumors:
1- Sarah Palin is not the mother of Trig Palin, she is covering for her daughter
2- Sarah Palin had an affair with a former business partner of Todd Palin and the former business partner sought to cover-up this affair by filing an emergency court action to seal his divorce records.
3- John McCain would be forced to rescind his party's nomination.
4- Sarah Palin would be dumped by McCain (Eagleton scenario)
5- Sarah Palin is a Manchurian Candidate

It should be noted that rumors 2,3, and 5 are so insane that nobody else out there is pushing them. NOBODY, not even the Kos Kidz. So spare me this "yeah, Andy is nutty, but so is everyone, it's politics" bullshit.
Go read Ross Douthat, who is the mildest person in Washington, over the past week. When he is outraged by his own publication, there is a problem.

Anonymous said...

Since he loves to deal in rumors concerning others, I'm going to toss a rumor about ole andy right now:
He's been silenced or fired by The Atlantic. I have no other evidence other than he has mysteriously not posted in 14+ hours on his website, almost unheard of over the past month or so. Perhaps last night's last post simply was too much. The post reads:

Your Move, McCain
That NYTimes Article...

For those of you unaware, Drudge had been teasing an "expose" on Trig Palin on the front page of the NYTimes. It turned out to be a nice fluff piece on Sarah and Trig and how her family is very much part of her role as Governor. It should also kill the Sarah/Trig rumors as they even quoted a family in the next room over from Sarah when she gave birth. This is the media doing their job.
But Sullivan left his post strangely vague, I suspect to indicate there was something scandalous in the article.

So I really wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow we learn that like MSNBC, The Atlantic has taken action against an out-of-control Sr. Editor who is really damaging their reputation.

Anonymous said...

DU -

As far as I know, Galley Slaves is not connected to the Weekly Standard, so the comparison is fallacious. Sullivan appears to be launching his maniacal tirades from a formal branch of the Atlantic family.

As for the "suddenly developing a refined concern for a liberal magazines" part, JVL and others here have consistently directed us to good writing at many places that are quite "liberal" (just look at the list of friends on the page) - and I have never felt that the Galley Slaves have used this space for cheery promotion of the current administration.

Everyone is on their worst behavior, and maybe the Sullivan watch has gotten a little tiresome, but he seems to embody a complete rejection of reasonableness and critical judgment with respect to this year's contest.

Jonathan V. Last said...

Geez! I would have thought that my declaring time and again that the New York Times to be a giant civilizational advance and that the New Yorker is a national treasure, would at least grant me genuine ownership of regard for the well-being of big, liberal, general-interest media properties!

Especially seeing as how people always rag on me whenever I try telling people how great these pubs are . . .

Drew80 said...

I wonder if The Atlantic is feeling some heat about continuing to sponsor Sullivan.

Has anyone noticed that Sullivan has posted nothing but a photograph since yesterday?

Today is a weekday, and it is almost 4:00 p.m. in the East, and yet nothing has come from Sullivan all day.

This is very unusual.

Anonymous said...

A couple of points:

- I caught that bit about "bring up" as well and thought the same thing, sickening.
- The window view posts are not posted by andy, they are posted by his intern.
- he can post in transit and does so regularly.

I have neither the time nor desire but if you check his archives for the past 3-4 months I'm guessing you won't find a break in posting of 16+ hours when he's not on vacation.

Anonymous said...


I care way way too much about this, but something else just occurred to me:
Why, only days after announcing that your site was experiencing record traffic, would you go dark without a heads up?
Was Andy fired? We can only hope. It's more likely that he was told to tone it down a little and Andy responded in classic passive-aggressive fashion by not posting.
" I'll show you toning it down, I won't post anymore and then you'll have no visits to your site!"

Kinda like the time Gil Arenas was in Golden State and was told to distribute the ball more. So the next game he doesn't take a single shot and just passes and gets 20+ assists.

And that my friends, will be the only time Gil Arenas and Andrew Sullivan appear in the same comment on any blog at any time for at least a year!

Drew80 said...


It is inevitable that Sullivan WILL be fired from The Atlantic between now and year-end, because no journalist and no serious publication can live down all that Sullivan has written in recent months. His reputation is now totally destroyed, and The Atlantic cannot afford to have its own reputation totally destroyed as well.

Sullivan's deterioration since January alone has been dumbfounding. However, Sullivan's actions over the last ten days have been beyond the pale, and he has become a joke to everyone.

Did his last ten days of utter lunacy over Palin cause The Atlantic to give Sullivan the boot? Or is The Atlantic putting Sullivan on hold for some reasonable period while it reviews his work and decides what to do?

One of the two scenarios above is going on right now, surely.

To save the publication's face, Sullivan may remain silent for a while and, after the election, The Atlantic will announce a parting of the ways.

Will The Times of London be next to give this fool the shove?


Anonymous said...

Ok I lied, I did have the time and interest to go a little ways back and check Sullivan's archives to see his recent blogging activity. So minus the "View from your Window" posts here is what his activity was in the past week:

9-1: 40+ posts
9-2: 50+ posts
9-3: 70+ posts
9-4: 50+ posts
9-5: 50+ posts
9-6: 30+ posts
9-7: 30+ posts
9-8: ZERO POSTS as of 7pm EST

You have to admire how prolific he is, even if the quality of his writing has decreased dramatically in the past year or so.
Nonetheless, it certainly looks like something is up. Certainly Andy will address our concerns by posting ASAP.

Anonymous said...

So I guess that with his win tonight that the era of Federer continues to be over on this website?

Drew80 said...


Yes, something is definitely up.

It is now 8:30 p.m., and Sullivan remains silent still.

The Atlantic probably is being bombarded with questions about Sullivan, part of its new, ill-advised "advice" feature. Surely The Atlantic has received thousands of questions about Sullivan's activities and behavior in recent days. The embarrassment quotient must be overwhelming.

I submitted a question myself.

Since Sullivan has taken to referring to Christians as "Christianists", I sought advice from The Atlantic whether I should properly title Sullivan henceforth as an AZTist, a Barebackerist, a Buggerist, a Fellatioist or a Glutist.

Titles are important, you know.

As a simple matter of courtesy and propriety, I doubt I could live with myself if I chose an incorrect title in referring to Sullivan. I sought clarification from The Atlantic simply to avoid any embarrassing social faux pas!

(In dealing with Sullivan, the term "Journalist", naturally, is no longer apropos.)


Anonymous said...

I wonder if Time will take him back?

Anonymous said...

You don't suppose that the Obama campaign itself asked the Atlantic's editors to pull on Sullivan's reins, do you?

Drew80 said...

Mr. Den Beste:

That's what my father says: this sort of thing is killing Obama, and his campaign has asked online nutcases to cut the crap.

I do not read Daily Kos or the Huffington Post, ever, but I have friends who have told me that Kos and Huffington have scrubbed many of their looniest posts in recent days.


Anonymous said...

I had a terrifying thought: What else could prevent Sullivan from posting all day:

A plane flight to Alaska...

I'm just sayin.


Drew80 said...


I think that Sullivan has either been (or is in the process of being) fired, or he has been placed on effective detention by The Atlantic.

If not, would not Sullivan be posting, at the very least, a few innocuous posts about something or other, like the weather?

His complete disappearance, and not a mere ratcheting down of his rhetoric, is what tells me that something is going on.

When he travels, he tends to write about his trips in advance, does he not?

I have been following Sullivan, daily, since January, with utter fascination--and ONLY because he is offering daily evidence of ongoing mental deterioration, publicly, noticeably, measurably. It is clear as a bell, and fascinating in a morbid sort of way. Month by month, week by week, his continuing deterioration is frightening.

My sister-in-law is a psychiatrist (and also British, for what it's worth), and she has become totally captivated observing his mental deterioration, too.

She says that Sullivan will shortly be non-functional--and that his innate meanness is the quality coming most to the fore right now, which she says is fairly typical in cases of onset of mental debilitation.

I found two recent photographs of Sullivan online today. I was shocked. He looks God-awful. He no longer looks like a normal human being. He looks like a demented, homeless person--and his eyes have a demented, inhuman glaze.

I sent the photos to my sister-in-law. Her response: "someone who knows him needs to get him some help as soon as possible".


Anonymous said...


Sullivan always looks homeless, it's his thing.

I found this bit of awesomeness just now while watching MNF:

Sullivan posted this touting a blog run by Anne Kilkenny:

Who is Kilkenny?

According to (not a conservative site by any means) Kilkenny is responsible for sliming Palin in a completely and totally factually incorrect spam email. She does not seem stable and has some axe to grind with Palin:

And this is Sullivan's source for much of his hysteria.

I won't comment on Sullivan's mental state. If I had to guess I would say he's spent much of the past 18 months emotionally invested in Obama. Remember his posts about waking up from a nightmare that Hillary had somehow stolen the nomination from Obama? That is how emotionally invested in the Obama presidency he is.
So now McCain has picked the ONE person who could win McCain the election and Sullivan is completely destroyed. He was so close, and now he can see it slipping away. That has to weigh very heavily on him. It has certainly clouded his opinions and his writing ability.

Anyways, we're now close to 24 hours since his last post and I think it is safe to say something is up. I've emailed Drudge (his tip line) to ask him to investigate.

Drew80 said...

I guess I am like one of those persons who stops and stares at car wrecks.

Anonymous said...

Trying to psychiatrically analyze political opponents is something that the lefties do. I should know; I've been the target of that kind of thing many times.

Let's not be like them. Judge what Sullivan says and how he acts, but leave diagnosis to his doctors. It's none of our business.

Drew80 said...

I judge what Sullivan says and does very harshly, but Sullivan fascinates me, not for his politics--which are pretty feeble, and all over the board, and at base very unsophisticated--but for his human shortcomings.

And the reason I read Sullivan is to marvel at his human failings. This is what makes Sullivan worth reading, at least for me. Can anyone possibly read Sullivan for the actual content? I doubt it.

I suspect that a huge portion of his current readership is fascinated by his psychology more than his politics.

And, with a psychiatrist in the family, who is also fascinated by him (but not interested at all in politics, his or anyone else's), it is hard for me not to take swipes at Sullivan.

As I said, I guess I am one of those persons who cannot pass by a car wreck without gawking.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to spoil the party, but I think Andrew Sullivan is correct about Palin. I just don't buy her story of Trig's birth. It defies logic. Evidently the "respectable" MSM has decided that this topic is totally off-limits.

I don't know if Sullivan is under some kind of strain or pressure because of his recent postings. But even when I vehemently disagree with him, I respect him.

Anonymous said...

The NYT just ran a story about Trig which included ear-witnesses who were in the room next to Sarah Palin when she was in labor.

Or maybe you think she was hiding out on the grassy knoll? Feh.

Anonymous said...

"Sullivan posted this touting a blog run by Anne Kilkenny"

Anne Kilkenny is surely an "unimpeachable source". I hear she has lunch with Bill Burkett all the time and I'm certain Dan Rather* can vouch for her.

* Speaking of Dan Rather, isn't it nice not to have him to kick around any more. I haven't heard a peep from him this election cycle.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious Bill Burkett reference. Perhaps we'll get a 60 minutes interview with Kilkenny where she has a mental breakdown.
BTW, we're now into hour 32 of Sullivan Watch.
I've submitted a Drudge tip-line question about Andy's whereabouts and emailed Howie Kurtz to inquire as to what the story is.
Yes, this is a pathetic obsession. I swear I'm a totally normal guy.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit, it does sound a little pathetic. But now that you have brought up the subject, I'll be curious to see if there's anything important behind it. Not that I ever read Andrew Sullivan. He just sounds too insane to bother with.

Mark said...

Satirical take on Sullivan?

Anonymous said...

Coates is royally pissed that Sullivan rumors are spreading on his comments section.

Something is up.

Anonymous said...

Ambinder's blog on The Atlantic states as follows this morning: "Lots of e-mails asking about Andrew's whereabouts. I checked in with him; he's fine. He's taking a few days off. Worry not, fans."

Drew80 said...

He was suspended, apparently. He has never gone away before without advance notice, and he has always had someone fill in for him during his previous absences.

When he returns, I expect him to keep a VERY low profile, and to offer little more than milquetoast posts between now and the election.

Between the election and December 31, I expect to see him leave The Atlantic.

Anonymous said...

Not to take anything away from Ambinder, but I'm not trusting Andrew's account of anything.

Anonymous said...

I see that Jonathan is obsessing yet again over the fate of a liberal publication. How typical. How sad.

When will he acknowledge that the Dumb-O-Crats will never publish his writing? You CANNOT negotiate with the liberal media, Jonathan! THEY WILL NOT LISTEN TO REASON!!!



Mark said...

Heh. Iowahawk is getting in on the action:

Anonymous said...

Dude's quoting Pynchon now...

He's getting ready for an epic paranoid/schizo wig-out if Obama loses.

Anonymous said...

Sullivan would be able to post at, if that url didn't redirect to his Atlantic site. Theoretically he could break the redirect, but does he even have a hosting service right now? I'm guessing that he's getting this all set up right now so he can move the site soon.

Anonymous said...

You will all be sorry when McCain and Palin BOTH quit the Republican ticket in a full double Eagleton.

Andrew Sullivan will then be vindicated as the most prescient political analyst of his generation.


Drew80 said...

"You will all be sorry when McCain and Palin BOTH quit the Republican ticket in a full double Eagleton."

Thank you for dropping by our lovely planet, Anonymous.

We hope you enjoy your brief stay here, and are able to learn a little about our customs before you return to your native solar system.

Anonymous said...

How awesome is it that the ALL CAPS ALL STAR is back. BTW, I'm convinced it's Matt Labash.

Drew80 said...

Sullivan must have been suspended.

He has a Wittgenstein quote on his website: "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

Anonymous said...

All Caps All Star is not Matt Labash. How do I know? Because I'm All Caps All Star, and I'm ALL MAN! Yeah, that's right, pretty boy!!! YOU HEARD ME!!!