On Oct. 18, New Republic editor Franklin Foer fired associate editor Spencer Ackerman. It was Mr. Foer’s first firing since taking over in February; Mr. Ackerman, in fact, is only the second New Republic staffer to be fired since the Hollywood-worthy fall of fabulist Stephen Glass in 1998.
Before anyone calls up Hayden Christensen this time, the principals need to do some more work on the narrative line. Mr. Foer described the dismissal as a matter of serial “insubordination”; Mr. Ackerman, 26, wrote on a personal blog that it was the result of “irreconcilable ideological differences” with the magazine’s upper editors.
In what Mr. Foer called the “proximate cause,” Mr. Ackerman had been using that personal blog—titled “Too Hot for TNR”—to disparage the magazine.
Again with the Web logs: On Sept. 1, senior editor Lee Siegel was suspended and had his culture blog removed from the magazine’s Web site. Mr. Siegel had been caught posting flattering comments about his own wit and wisdom in the third person under the pseudonym “sprezzatura”—a “sock puppet,” in blog parlance.
Mr. Siegel is still suspended, but he remains on the masthead. Then again, Mr. Siegel
hadn’t previously sent Mr. Foer an e-mail offering to “make a niche in your skull” with a baseball bat, as Mr. Ackerman did during a dispute about whether the
magazine should have a blog about the Major League Baseball playoffs.
“The Siegel thing was a first-time offense,” Mr. Foer said. “Ackerman involved repeated offenses.”
Mr. Ackerman said he had clashed with Mr. Foer over various editorial matters. But he said that he had fallen from favor after growing disenchanted with the invasion of Iraq, which he and the magazine had both supported in the beginning.
“I definitely, for lack of a better term, drifted leftward,” Mr. Ackerman said. “The Iraq war will do that to you. The Bush administration will do that to you.”
Mr. Ackerman had been acting out, by his own account: telling a colleague it “wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world” to get fired “for being too left-wing”; declaring in an editorial meeting that he would “skullfuck” the corpse of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to establish his anti-terrorist bona fides.
Oh, Frank, why did you do something so stupid.
You keep on the fabulists Zengerle and Siegel and fire Ackerman over a difference of opinion. It won't look good in court, especially when he sings about the editorial process there. Of the lack of one.
Siegel unfairly attacks Ezra Klein by using his mother, and he still has a job. Ackerman describes his political shift and gets fired for it.
Frank, you would have been much better off firing the fiction writers, legally. So, when you apologized to that professor Siegel libeled, grovelled really, didn't it cross your mind that Siegel was a writer too many?
Or when Zengerle was making up shit about Kos and myself. Didn't you think that maybe TNR would be better off without him.
What a shame.
posted by Steve @ 3:18:00 PM