Author William McGowan and New York Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus had a revealing email exchange recently over the prospects of the New York Times reviewing McGowan’s new book “Gray Lady Down – What the Decline and Fall of The New York Times Means for America,” an exchange that McGowan's publisher, Roger Kimball of Encounter Books, describes as a prime example of Tanenhaus "in weasel mode.”

In an email exchange obtained by Times Watch, McGowan wrote to Tanenhaus on November 22 informing Tanenhaus that he had dropped off a copy of “Gray Lady Down” for review purposes, writing: “I think the book should be read as coming from the loyal opposition, a la [former Times Public Editor] Dan Okrent, and while it may not be everywhere flattering it is, to the best of my ability, everywhere fair.”

McGowan reminded Tanenhaus that he had previously told him “Gray Lady Down” would receive a review in the Times. (McGowan’s last critical appraisal of the Times, “Coloring the News,” was ignored by the paper.)



CBS reporter Lesley Stahl was very confused on Monday's "Morning Joe". She just couldn't figure out why there are so many women involved with the Tea Party.

Stahl received a basic civics lesson from two unlikely personalities: columnist Mike Barnicle, and Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the New York Times Book Review and author of "The Death of Conservatism".

Tanenhaus noted that economic issues are of particular importance to women, and therefore that women are going to be more active when their economic livelihood is threatened. Barnicle suggested that since women generally handle household finances, the illogic of deficit spending is especially clear to them (video and transcript below the fold - h/t Caroline May).



Sam Tanenhaus, editor of “The New York Times Book Review” and “Week in Review,” and the author of the book, “The Death of Conservatism,” went on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC talk show Monday night to discuss her being featured in a  fundraising letter from the right-wing John Birch Society. But the friendly chat soon veered off into a comparison of the nationalist John Birch Society to the Tea Party movement, with Tanenhaus confidently proclaiming “there are no serious ideas left on the right.”

Tanenhaus is pretty assured, for a man who published a book called “The Death of Conservatism” months before a conservative resurgence. At least he didn't refer to Tea Party protesters as “tea baggers,” as he did in an exchange on Slate last October. (Watch a clip of Tanenhaus chatting with Maddow at Times Watch).

SAM TANENHAUS: But there were many on the right who actually supported  [John Birch Society president Robert] Welch on the principle we're seeing in action today -- no enemies on the right. If they can be useful, you keep them in the tent. Then, by the mid-'60s, as you said before, they'd gotten so far off the grid that Buckley, a guy who kind of trafficked in intellectual circles, particularly in New York, and had a lot of smart liberal friends, like Murray Kempton and John Kenneth Galbraith, got a little embarrassed by them. At the same time, though, as you said, they were forceful. They were useful. In the Goldwater campaign in ‘64, they were the foot soldiers. In some sense, they're the precursor to the tea partiers we're seeing now, so the right is always nervous about evicting people like that.



It's curious to see people in the mainstream media try to make sense of the Tea Party movement. The New York Times, which once called the Tea Parties a psychological phenomenon rather than a political movement, has now changed its tune.

In the wake of the stunning upset by Scott Brown in the Jan. 19 Massachusetts special election to fill the seat vacated by Ted Kennedy's death, the Times is attempting a more analytical look at the so-called "tea party tiger." Specifically, the Times looked at some key figures in the movement, Sen. Jim DeMint, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Fox News host Glenn Beck and CNBC CME group reporter Rick Santelli.

CNBC ‘Squawk Box' co-host Joe Kernen told Santelli about the Times story on Jan. 25.



2009 began as a year of smiles at the Times, with rapture over the "historic" Obama administration. Reporters showered partisan praise on Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and first lady Michelle Obama. Meanwhile, the Times resolutely buried emerging left-wing scandals over ACORN and Obama adviser Van Jones. But the smile curdled into a defensive snarl during the long hot summer of "angry," "white," and "bitter" tea party protesters, while Times columnists blamed conservative talk show hosts for a spate of ideologically motivated killings.
 
But perhaps the apex of outrage at the Times in 2009 was a textbook case of liberal hypocrisy. In Timesland, unions are vital to the lifeblood of a sound economy -- just not at the Times itself.

In ascending order of awfulness, here are the Top 10 lowlights of the Times in 2009 (you can also read all the gory details at Times Watch).


Did Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush "probably" commit "impeachable offenses"? That's what influential New York Times editor Sam Tanenhaus thinks.

On Wednesday night, the influential editor of both the "New York Times Book Review" and the "Weekend Review" sections again appeared on Charlie Rose's late night PBS chat show to discuss his no-longer-new book "The Death of Conservatism."

Times Watch found Tanenhaus's slim essay of a book intellectually dishonest, not so much declaring the movement dead as trying to define it out of existence by blurring the meaning of "conservatism" to mean the preserving of liberal government interventions.

Tanenhaus made his assertion three minutes into the interview while discussing limits on presidential power:


John Roberts, CNN Anchor; & Jeffrey Toobin, CNN Senior Legal Analyst | NewsBusters.orgCNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin again turned to his usual labeling of the ideological split on the Supreme Court on Monday’s American Morning. Toobin labeled Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts “very conservative” three times, as opposed to the mere “liberal” justices on the Court. The analyst also bizarrely claimed that the “liberal side” of the body is “basically outnumbered.”

Toobin appeared during two segments at the ends of the 6 am and 8 am Eastern hours of the CNN program. Anchor John Roberts (who has the same name as the chief justice) interviewed the legal analyst both times, and he first asked about the influence of new Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the Court as it starts a new session. Toobin used his slanted labeling from right out of the gate: “You know, Justice Byron White was famous for saying, ‘When you change one member of the court, you don’t just change one member, you change the whole court’...This may be, though, a rare exception to that because her politics seem very similar to David Souter’s, so that the divisions on the court- four very conservative justices, four liberal justices- Anthony Kennedy in the middle- is probably not going to change that much.”


New York Times Week in Review and Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus is discussing his recent book "The Death of Conservatism" with Reihan Salam on Slate's Book Club feature. 

The tone of these Slate debates is usually civilly contentious, but in his Thursday afternoon posting, Tanenhaus leaves his lofty chambers of rhetoric to insult the conservatives he purports to be an expert on with a well-known lefty vulgarism:

Even today the right insists it is driven by ideas, even if the leading thinkers are now Limbaugh and Beck, and the shock troops are tea-baggers and anti-tax demonstrators.



Left-wing PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers, host of "Bill Moyers Journal," interviewed New York Times editor Sam Tanenhaus about his new book "The Death of Conservatism," which Times Watch found intellectually dishonest, unnecessarily hostile, and already dated.

Tanenhaus, who edits two Sunday sections, the Book Review and the Week in Review, insulted today's conservative movement the same way he did in his book, calling it "a politics of vengeance." Tanenhaus, who decries conspiracism on the right, indulged in his own when he declared of the 2000 election between Bush and Al Gore: "... the conservatives on the Supreme Court stopped the democratic process, put their guy into office."

Challenged by Moyers on the book's title, given the huge anti-government rallies opposing Obama's spending and health care schemes, Tanenhaus insisted that "the overt signs of energy and vitality" of today's anti-government protesters notwithstanding, "the rigor mortis I described is still there."

Whatever you say, Sam. Some excerpts from the interview, which aired Friday night:

Moyers: So, if you're right about the decline and death of conservatism, who are all those people we see on television?
Tanenhaus: I'm afraid they're radicals. (Laughter.) Conservatism has been divided for a long time -- this is what my book describes narratively -- between two strains. What I call realism and revanchism. We're seeing the revanchist side.


The title of Sam Tanenhaus's slim new essay of a book, with the wishful-thinking title "The Death of Conservatism," is misleading. Tanenhaus, the editor of the New York Times Book Review and Week in Review sections, doesn't so much call the movement dead as try to define it out of existence. 

"Death" reshapes the U.S. political landscape out of all recognition to make it hospitable to Tanenhaus's peculiar brand of left-center politics, where the only true conservatives stalking the land are Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, and (wait for it) Barack Obama, "more thoroughly steeped in the Burkean principles of 'conservation' and 'correction' than any significant thinker or political figure on the right today."

Under Tanenhaus's conveniently pinched definition of conservatism, liberals are welcome to expand the reach of the federal government through regulation, higher taxes and welfare, moves that conservatives are then obligated to "conserve" and consolidate to be true to their philosophy -- as dictated by a New York Times editor who assuredly has their best interests at heart (as do the four liberal journalists who contributed back-page blurbs).



There is an inside joke for the veteran viewers of MSNBC’s morning show, ‘Morning Joe,’ which refers back to a time when Joe Scarborough was in a heated debate with Zbigneiw Brzezinski (Mika’s father) over the behind-the-scenes content of President Clinton’s Camp David accords.  The elder Brzezinski grew rather frustrated with being out-shouted by Scarborough, and delivered the following zinger:
“You know, you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it's almost embarrassing to listen to you.”
This crushing critique could also be applied to today’s appearance of the New York Times’ Sam Tanenhaus, author of 'The Death of Conservatism,' on that same show.  Tanenhaus delivered the following two opinions with an admirably straight face:
SAM TANENHAUS: Yeah, and it was interesting to go to the Clinton school and tell the audience there that the last conservative president in America was Bill Clinton. 


Catching up with a great catch in last week's Weekly Standard “Scrapbook” section, the September 7 issue highlighted an example of how it takes a worldview that sees liberals like Barack Obama as “consensus”-oriented/“explicitly nonideological” centrists -- and Republicans as “ideologically committed” conservatives -- to work at the New York Times. Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the newspaper's Book Review and Week in Review sections, in his new book, The Death of Conservatism, proposes on page 23:
The primary dynamic of American politics, normally described as a continual friction between the two major parties, is equally in our time a competition between the liberal idea of consensus and the conservative idea of orthodoxy. We see it in the Democratic Party's recent history of choosing centrist, explicitly nonideological presidential candidates (Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama), as contrasted with the Republicans' preference for ideologically committed ones (Goldwater, Reagan, George W. Bush).
The unnamed Weekly Standard writer scoffed: “The sophistry here is breathtaking. Tanenhaus not only conflates his own political preferences with the American 'center.' In order to prove that only the Democratic party nominates 'centrist, explicitly nonideological' men for the presidency, Tanenhaus (1) puts Obama – Barack Obama! – in the 'centrist' camp, and (2) totally ignores Democrats Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and Al Gore, as well as Republicans Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, and John McCain.”