Charlie Stross Does X-treme Fiction Writing
Corporate Profits

Slate Editor of La Mancha By Jack Shafer

In "Make All Mistakes Twice", Jack Shafer saddles up and charges the windmills with his lance to defend the honor of executive editor Jim Brady's hiring of Ben Domenech.

Do not, however, think that Shafer offers Jim Brady any more significant defense than Rosinante's rider could. Shafer's argument that Jim Brady was right to hire a young guy with no significant clips who was rude enough to seriously piss off Glenn Reynolds and who had made Tom Maguire suspicious that he was making stuff up is... well, it's not clear. By my count, Shafer makes two jokes and two misrepresentations, and then withdraws from the field.

Shafer says that he doesn't "know of any editor who, absent an inkling, conducts a plagiarism investigation before hiring a writer." But here there was more than an inkling that Domenech was unreliable. A misrepresentation.

Shafer says that if "political activism should have disqualified Domenech from an opinion gig, we ought to apply the same standard to columnist-commentators William Safire, Pat Buchanan, George Stephanopoulos, James Carville, Peggy Noonan, Paul Begala, Mary Matalin, Tim Russert, Dick Morris, David Gergen, Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough, Tony Blankley, and other politicos who have joined the commentariat. (Wait a minute, maybe that's a good idea!)" A joke.

Shafer says that objections to Domenech's hypocrisy about the need for civil discourse are "well taken, as long as nobody intends to exclude from polite political conversation people (like me)..." Another joke.

Shafer says that "promoting writers to do work beyond what their age and résumé would recommend isn't... bad idea... Michael Kinsley, Michael Lewis, Cameron Crowe, Lester Bangs, and Ted Conover." But nobody is claiming that there was ever any sign that Ben Domenech was like Michael Kinsley, Michael Lewis, Cameron Crowe, Lester Bangs, or Ted Conover, are they? A misrepresentation.

And do not think that Shafer is doing this--whatever this is, and for whatever reason he is doing it--to be friendly to Jim Brady (whom Shafer says he "considers... a friend"): Brady's strategy is complete and total radio silence, in the hope that critics with unanswerable criticisms will lose interest and go away. He doesn't want people like Shafer stirring the pot.