David Mamet is not a great writer. But he has a good sense of story and character, as well as very unusual dialog. Thus it is strange that he is a conservative. But not a very thoughtful one. And this is probably why Newsweek decided to run a cover story written by him, Gun Laws and the Fools of Chelm. Tina Brown seems to want to signal that just because they’re no longer publishing a print version of Newsweek, that doesn’t mean they are going to do anything so rash as to raise their incredibly low editorial standards.
I’ve written for a lot of little publishers. Some of them are great. But most of them edit only so far as it can ruin your work. And most don’t fact check. But all big time publishers fact check, right? I used to think so. As we learned during the Niall Ferguson fiasco, “We, like other news organisations today, rely on our writers to submit factually accurate material.” (I believe that all reputable publications do fact check.)
Yesterday, Matt Gertz at Media Matters reported on, 3 Major Flaws In Newsweek’s Red-Baiting Gun Rant. One of these is truly astounding:
What the fuck?! Even aside from the astounding lack of understanding of background checks, one line really stands out, “The country is broke.” The country is not broke. But again (and again and again), we have a conservative who knows—Just knows!—that which just ain’t so. And note the logic here. It is stupid not to check these cards! But it would be an outrage if these cards were checked! Anyway, we can’t afford it!
But the rest of it reminds me of this SNL skit about how ignorant undecided voters are:
“Who is the president right now? Is he or she running? Because if so, experience is maybe something we should consider.” It is remarkable that a major news magazine would publish speculation about something that the writer could easily look up. Like Matt Gertz did (on a blog), “The FBI explains that, for more than a decade, there have no longer been forms resting ‘somewhere in the vast repository,’ but rather prospective purchasers are subject to FBI background checks to ensure they are not ineligible to own a weapon.”
I guess when you’re a Republican, there are just some things you can’t know. And unlike in the undecided voters in the video, conservatives like Mamet will not be helped by answering very specific questions. Our biggest problem in American politics is not the ignorant undecided voter, it is the willfully ignorant and myth-loving conservative voter who knows—Just knows!—that which just ain’t so.