Franklin Foer

In Defense of Conventional Wisdom
March 19, 2001

There are certain ideas so beyond the pale they cannot be publicly defended. You never see politicians arguing for child molestation or op-eds defending Hitler. But there is one particular idea so disdained, so monstrous, that it must be pulled out and flayed almost daily: conventional wisdom. Since 1980 the New York Times editorial page has published at least 38 columns condemning world hunger, 241 against South African apartheid, and 465 containing the phrase "conventional wisdom"--and never once did the Times mean it in a nice way. Like muckrakers railing against J.P. Morgan and John D.

The Wayward Critic
Howard Kurtz and the decline of media criticism.
May 15, 2000

Howard Kurtz has been busy. Last year The Washington Post's media reporter wrote over 199 articles—more than the paper's Supreme Court reporter (130) or even its chief White House correspondent (195). Kurtz doubles as co-host of CNN's "Reliable Sources," a forum for reporters to chew over the sins of other reporters. His books on the sad decline of newspapers, talk-show blowhards, and the Clinton propaganda machine inhabit the increasingly crowded "media studies" corner of your neighborhood Barnes and Noble. (The subject covers nearly as much shelf space as philosophy in my neighborhood megast

Arguing the GOP
March 20, 2000

Marvin Olasky was right. John McCain's campaign is crawling with Zeus worshipers. George W. Bush's evangelical crony was a bit opaque in his now-infamous article in the February 16 Austin American-Statesman, but he was on to something: Jewish neoconservatives have fallen hard for John McCain. It's not just unabashed swooner William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard.

February 28, 2000

What explains "McCain chic"? The commentariat's theory of the moment is that John McCain is to Bill Clinton what Jimmy Carter was to Richard Nixon. As Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. recently put it, the Arizona senator embodies "the desire to cleanse politics of the stain of the Clinton scandals." But, even assuming Dionne is right and the public really is thirsting for an anti-Clinton (if you don't want to assume that, turn to page six for Sean Wilentz's argument against "Clinton fatigue"), why is McCain that man?