The New Republic, once the ideological bastion of the American left, has been getting so much praise from conservatives in recent years that some have dubbed it The New Republican, to the dismay of at least a few of those on the staff.
Now comes what a few consider faint praise from the right, the summer issue of the Heritage Foundation's Policy Review, which should be arriving in subscribers' mailboxes today. Review managing editor Dinesh D'Souza, in an article titled "Marty Come Lately: The New Republic Discovers Old Truths," chastises magazine owner Martin Peretz and his staff for being about 10 years behind the neo-wave of conservatism.
D'Souza's piece has been deemed "patronizing" by a few writers for TNR (which stands for The New Republic now, not The National Review). Irksome to both traditional liberals and conservative converts on the staff are such comments as this one: "Liberal articles in TNR are viewed as regrettable lapses, akin to the reforming drunk who falls back on the bottle every once in a while."
And D'Souza scorches the magazine for "a squid-like cloud of rhetoric" on difficult social issues. "It's no use accusing TNR of schizophrenia -- the editors take it as a compliment," he writes.
TNR editor Michael Kinsley, who says that D'Sousa has been nicknamed "Distort D'Newsa" at the TNR shop, said the piece "was smart enough to be unfair in very sophisticated ways."
D'Souza says of TNR critiques: "We're encouraging them to write letters to the editor, because they are very, very good as writers."
Some readers perusing the page labeled "Obituaries" in last Thursday's Philadelphia Inquirer were startled to find a story headlined "Democrats Begin to Draft the Rules for Selecting Party's Nominee in 1988."
The papers were changed after the first edition. But Steve Lovelady, associate executive editor for The Inquirer, says about 5,000 copies hit the streets, and many of them came to Washington, where they have entered the "save" file for a host of people who are always looking for a good intro to a speech.
Asked whether it was a case of political commentary straying to the news pages, Lovelady laughed and said, "No, I'm afraid it was just a plain old screw-up."
Virtually on the eve of a $50 million libel trial against The Boston Globe, the paper's managing editor Matt Storin quit last week, leaving behind a newsroom split in its loyalties to him and to the editor of less than a year, Michael Janeway.
Storin, in a note to the staff, said: "I will not pretend that last year's change in editors had no effect on my decision, but I have high regard for Mike Janeway's abilities and despite the pains of transition, I know the Globe will continue to excel and thrive. All of you will see that that happens."
Janeway, who was on vacation and was known to be often at odds with Storin on what should be deemed news, telephoned his own message, which closed with: "I accept his resignation with regret and wish him fair winds, exciting challenge and good fortune."
Staff members, many still grieving over the retirement of editor Thomas Winship, are not taking Storin's departure easily. Said one Globe veteran: "If you like daily journalism, you loved Storin. He's a newsman in the sense of caring profoundly about The News."
Storin, who tried to slip out quietly last week, will not be able to fade away. As a defendant in a libel suit filed by Republican businessman John Lakian charging that the Globe "massacred and destroyed" his reputation, Storin and reporter Walter Robinson will show the flag for the Globe in a Massachusetts state court over the next month.
The Ted Turner-CBS battle has a special poignancy for Daniel Schorr, who has worked for Cable News Network for six years and CBS for 26 years. Thus, Schorr felt that he was in a special position to say, as he wrote recently in the Los Angeles Times, that he prayed that Ted Turner would not take over CBS.
"The reason is not disgruntlement. . . . It is concern for the future of electronic journalism," Schorr added.
But Schorr went on to make some very tough charges against the Atlanta media wizard, so tough that Turner shot back a scorching letter to the L.A. Times. In the letter he not only denied Schorr's charges but also added that while Schorr worked for him, "I had faith in the accuracy and integrity of his reports," adding that "I now believe that my faith in him was misplaced."
CNN business anchor Lou Dobbs and several other CNN reporters reacted strongly in defense of Turner and said they viewed Schorr's article as a "cheap shot."
Schorr had charged on the L.A. Times editorial pages that the head of Turner Broadcasting Co. "is given to anti-Semitic slurs" and "casual bigotry."
"He once suggested having blacks carry missiles from silo to silo as an answer to the unemployment problem," Schorr said in the opinion piece.
Schorr also claimed that on a visit to Moscow last spring Turner told Soviet officials that he hoped Jewish "refuseniks" would not be sent to the United States where they were not wanted.
And finally the article charged that business leaders "are subjects of flattering interviews on a Sunday program called 'Pinnacle' and their companies sometimes are solicited afterwards for commercials." As an example, he cited an executive of Shearson American Express who was asked to sponsor a CNN stock market report after appearing on the show.
Turner, in a June letter to the L.A. Times, called Schorr a "disgruntled ex-employe" whose article is "replete with untrue and misleading statements."
"Contrary to Mr. Schorr's vicious suggestions, I am not bigoted or anti-Semitic," Turner's letter said. "I believe in the civil and human rights of all people and . . . I deplore censorship."
Turner's letter also denied that he ever ordered an interview with a Shearson American Express executive and said, "to this day, I don't know whether any executive from Shearson American Express has ever appeared on 'Pinnacle' or any other CNN program." (Shearson President Sanford Weil was interviewed on "Pinnacle" on April 21, 1984, but CNN staffers deny that it was on orders from Turner.)
Turner added that he hoped Schorr "and his bitterness will, like an old soldier, simply fade away."
As anyone who knows Schorr could tell him, that's not very likely.
Already Schorr has said he is "unhappy" about the L.A. Times running Turner's letter without giving him a chance to include a reply. Schorr also sent the L.A. Times a copy of his response to Turner's response.
In it Schorr argues with Turner point by point, and adds: "We were friends once -- two mavericks from different herds. Who knows? Maybe some day we can be again."