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The Earth is Flat Award

A celebration of the inane, insipid and asinine...

web posted July 16, 2001

It would appear that $7 500 buys a lot these days. According to Inside and Salon, that's all it took for PhRMA -- an organization which represents those evil pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the drugs that save your life -- to buy Andrew Sullivan.

As you may know, Sullivan has repeatedly defended the companies from charges that they are evil because they won't simply give up their patents and give away their drugs to whomever needs them. In a recent New York Times story on the rise of web sites run by people like Sullivan and Mickey Kaus, Sullivan announced that PhRMA had donated $7 500 to his web site. The financial details were handled by the company which maintains Sullivan's web site and he claims, plausibly to ESR, that the funding will not taint his coverage.

That wasn't enough for Inside and Salon who both smugly accused Sullivan of conflict of interest despite the fact that he announced the funding himself openly. Salon, which this year has received money in advertising revenue from Intel, Proctor & Gamble, Audible.com, X10, Lexus, Motorola, Mercedes, Warner Bros, Buy.com, New Republic, McAfee, Harper Collins, NY Times, AT&T Wireless, Lancôme, 20th Century Fox, Oxford University Press, Discover Card, Penguin/Putnam, Inside.com, Diamondology, Gillette, Mercury Mountaineer, Hewlett-Packard, Salomon, Smith Barney, CDW, Virgin Atlantic, The New School, The Street.com, Business 2.0, E Trade, Verizon, Ask Jeeves, Esquire, iPublish, Universal Studios, I.T. World, and Grey Mause Records -- and we only know this because they responded to Sullivan's request to have them named and only then provided an incomplete list, are apparently immune from conflict of interest. Notably, Inside didn't respond to Sullivan's request for their sponsors. Hmmm. For the record, Sullivan has returned the money but will still run PhRMA's advertising.

The fact of the matter is that Andrew Sullivan and any other pundit who writes for a me-zine must be judged on his body of work and in that respect we at ESR feel that he is above reproach. The real issue is that efforts like Salon and Inside are threatened by the rise of a group of pundits and writers who don't need them to get their message out. Salon, which has constantly promoted itself as outside the mainstream press and in the vanguard of the new media, is beginning to look a little like the establishment with its attempt to elevate the art of the personal attack into journalism.

Like I told Sullivan after the story broke, "Keep the money next time and to hell with Salon and Inside." Here at ESR, like over at andrewsullivan.com, if we ever receive a sponsorship or money, you know about it immediately. You can see a list of the people who have donated money to us here. The mere fact that we receive money doesn't mean that our coverage will be biased in any way, outside of the obvious. We are, after all, a conservative magazine.

And Andrew, next time keep the money.

web posted July 2, 2001

Handing Arizona Senator John McCain an Earth is Flat Award is like taking candy from a baby. One wonders why even bother. That said, when you deserve it, you deserve it. In a recent interview with WABC's John Batchelor and Paul Alexander, the "Republican" senator decided to praise Bill Clinton and excoriate Rush Limbaugh.

McCain: Why is this man smiling?
Why is this man smiling?

During the interview, McCain was reminded that WABC is a Limbaugh flagship station to which McCain exclaimed, "Oh, God!" and proceeded to compare the hero of Dittoheads to the Catholic Church persecuting heretics during the Middle Ages.

"I probably shouldn't say this but, you know, in the Middle Ages the Catholic Church disliked the heretics a lot worse than they did the followers of Mohammed," said McCain.

"I certainly hesitate to be critical of him because I certainly don't want to get into a food fight with him. But he has been extremely critical of me, as you know, and that's his right as a talk show host. My point is that, where he and I may differ, is that I believe that the Republican Party should not only tolerate but embrace people who may have differing views."

After offering some praise for Jim Jeffords, the Republican turned Democrat from the People's Republic of Vermont, McCain then told WABC that the Republican Party should strive to emulate none other than Bill Clinton.

"What did Bill Clinton do? Bill Clinton moved the Democratic Party to the center, which gave them two victories in presidential campaigns and a significant victory in the year 2000 as far as the United States Senate is concerned. We lost five seats in the United States Senate because of that move into the center, signing the welfare reform bill, etc., etc."

Like I said, when you deserve it, you deserve it.

The Vinegar in Freedom Award

There is an old Serbian proverb that says vinegar in freedom tastes better than honey in slavery. This award is meant for events and people Enter Stage Right considers to be positive.

web posted July 2, 2001

Pity the GOP establishment in New Jersey. Their golden boy, so-called moderate former congressman Bob Franks, was soundly defeated June 26 by conservative Bret Schundler for the Republican nomination for governor.

Franks conceded Schundler, mayor of Jersey City, the victory just 90 minutes after polls closed, not what party elders wanted.

Schundler and his wife, Lynn, smile as they watch election results on television in their hotel room at their campaign headquarters in East Brunswick, N.J.
Schundler and his wife, Lynn, smile as they watch election results on television in their hotel room at their campaign headquarters in East Brunswick, N.J.

Schundler, 42, who opposes abortion and supports gun ownership, spent nearly two years building a network of conservative groups and single-issue supporters. He largely ignored social issues in his campaign and focused on school choice and lower property taxes and auto insurance, branding Franks "just another tax-hiking liberal."

Franks, 49, a moderate four-term congressman, had the backing of nearly all the state's county Republican chairmen and sought to portray Schundler as a far-right extremist. He warned that the GOP would go down in defeat in November if the conservative won the nomination.

Franks positioned himself as a reformer, pledging to rewrite election financing laws and create an elected auditor to monitor state finances.

Victory? The conservative. U.S. President George W. Bush reportedly phoned Schundler that evening to congratulate him on his victory. Let's hope he also took the time to get some advice on how to govern from the right as well.

Have someone you want considered for the Earth is Flat Award or the Vinegar in Freedom Award? Email ESR with your candidates!




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