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Feature Story September 11, 2007
 
The Economist: The World’s Sleaziest Magazine
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
 
 

Here's a real-life superhero dilemma: What do you do when you're the world's most powerful news and opinion magazine, carrying the English-language torch of freedom on behalf of your million-plus high-net-worth readers across the globe, and suddenly you spot injustice on the Eurasian horizon: Sham elections in an oil-rich Eurasian country, resulting in a one-party parliament; its autocratic leader just pushed through constitutional amendments allowing him to remain in power for life; and it's waging a campaign to bully Western oil companies out of their lucrative oil fields, in spite of contracts and investments made.

If the country in question is Kazakhstan, and you're The Economist, then you know exactly what to do: Put Vladimir Putin on the cover and scare the shit out of your readers by sounding the "Hitler Alarm!" threat he poses to mankind. It doesn't matter that you run a version of this story almost every week. Or that the story you decide to run in the wake of Kazakhstan's sham elections happens to have been run in almost the exact same form by all of your colleagues FOUR FUCKING YEARS AGO.

Putin Capone

For The Economist, the Putin-as-Fascist story isn't bound by traditional Newtonian concepts of time or space, let alone the basic principles of Western journalism. It's a story that can be played like a deck of trump cards. No matter what else happens in the world - for example, the mega-clusterfuck in Iraq, a war that The Economist screamed for in a campaign capped by its infamous "The Case For War" editorial - when a story threatens to confuse or upset their agenda, the weekly can just drop the Putin-Hitler trump card. It works like a dream, every time.

Thanks to the English magazine's clever rhetorical strategy, calibrating an effective mixture of aristocratic contempt, two-notches-smarter-than-Newsweek diction, and occasional anti-elitist populism to pander to its majority-American readership, readers trust The Economist. They - particularly American readers - trust it because they think it knows more than they do; this is its entire appeal. They even get a sick thrill being talked down to by a dirty old aristocratic prig. For Americans in particular, accustomed to the lifeless, dumbed-down, least-common-denominator prose in their own media, reading The Economist is its own reward, giving them the sense not only that they're smarter than the average Time subscriber, but that it even makes them vaguely decadent, in a literary-aristocratic sort of way. They become smarter by osmosis simply by being in the imagined drawing room of The Economist's wit-slinging editorial offices.

In reality, The Economist is one of the most appallingly wrong and evil - as in responsible-for-millions-of-dead-people evil - organs in the world today. As far as "wit" goes, The Economist ranks up there with Benson, the snappy TV sitcom butler, though it's nowhere near as delightfully entertaining as the British butler in the godawful Dudley Moore comedy Arthur.

Or as Michael Lewis, the author of Liar's Poker, observed after moving to England, "The magazine is written by young people pretending to be old people. If American readers got a look at the pimply complexions of their economic gurus, they would cancel their subscriptions in droves."

If only it was a question of overrated wit. But it's much worse. It's a sinister and sophisticated English snowjob. Considering their influence and their influential readership, not to mention where they're leading us with their anti-Russia campaign, it's time to set the record straight, to put the "s" back in "limey" and call The Economist for the slimey fucks that they are, before they drag us all down with them again, just as they did with Iraq.


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Ames
Browse author
Email Mark Ames at editor@exile.ru.
 
 
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