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National Review’s Jonah Goldberg reacts to criticism by Star Tribune outgoing lefty Jim Boyd, and also reacts to irony in the Al Sharpton Mormon bigotry.

Thursday, May 10, 2007
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HH: Joined now by Jonah Goldberg, obviously a bug under the skin of Jim Boyd for many years. Jonah, welcome back, always a pleasure to have you on the Hugh Hewitt Show.

JG: Always great to be here, my friend.

HH: Now what did you make of Jim Boyd’s going out the door at the Star Tribune decision to just throw one your way?

JG: It seemed kind of shameful and pathetic, and a little sad. I mean, it sort of reminds you of the sort of losers who leave an administration, and all of a sudden, they settle their scores kind of thing.

HH: Were you aware that he had this deep antipathy to you when he was running your pieces on his editorial page?

JG: No, this is a lot like that famous Cornell-Harvard rivalry that everyone at Cornell knows about, and no one at Harvard does.

HH: (laughing)

JG: I was completely clueless about it, and I gather from reading the commentary at your site, and at Powerline, and all that, that I should be taking this as a badge of honor, not quite as great as the badge of honor to have Barbra Streisand cancel her subscription to the L.A. Times when they picked me up as a columnist.

HH: No, no. Had you ever heard of Jim Boyd before?

JG: I can’t swear that I have.

HH: (laughing) No, I don’t think you would have, unless you’ve ever covered the Minnesota State Fair.

JG: Yeah, no, you run across a lot of names, but it was a total out of the blue, had no idea who this was, and I had to actually ask around to find out if I should feel bad that this guy doesn’t like me. And the consensus among everyone I kind of respect is that I should be proud that this guy doesn’t like me.

HH: Oh, yes, that’s absolutely the case. But I’m curious about what you thought of his assessment of conservative writing talent, when in fact you are very widely syndicated. How many papers are you carried in, Jonah?

JG: The last time I looked, I’m in a little over a hundred, but I’m probably in about 12 of the top 20.

HH: And so you’re very, very widely read, given that he walks out and says, “I mean, good grief, Jonah Goldberg.” First of all, that’s terrible writing, because it has no argument, right?

JG: Right. Well, it’s indicative of somebody who normally only talks to people who agrees with him.

HH: Right.

JG: And so my mere name settles the argument.

HH: And feels no obligation to explain, and believes he will be understood by the audience that he speaks to.

JG: Exactly right.

HH: And he calls you a bugger. Again, I don’t know quite what that means.

JG: Yeah, well, I mean, I guess I’d be a little more offended if he called me a buggerer…

HH: Yes, yes.

JG: But you know, he also says, I guess they though it was very, very clever over there, to call me a COD piece…

HH: Yes.

JG: Or to say that they have COD pieces, which COD being shorthand for conservative of the day.

HH: Yup.

JG: But you know, for me to be this guy’s COD piece, the metaphor gets him in a little trouble.

HH: It certainly does, but he didn’t think that through.

JG: Yeah, I mean, codpieces cover up a certain part of the anatomy which would make that…if I’m the codpiece, what is he if you follow it through?

HH: I know, but this is a family show, so we won’t.

JG: Yeah, no, I understand the FCC and all that.

HH: Now Jonah, I want to go to the underlying problem. The Strib has lost half of its value in a very short period of time. They’re bleeding circulation, not as bad as the Dallas Morning News, which went down 14% in one reporting period, or the L.A. Times. What do these newspapers have to do?

JG: To survive?

HH: Yeah.

JG: Well, you know, I think it’s funny. I think there is a certain irony here. I have argued for a long time that I think a lot of newspapers need to move in the European direction, where they just are honest about their biases, because one of the things that drives normal readers nuts is when these newspapers pretend to be objective when they’re not.

HH: Right.

JG: And at least in the British press, the press says hey look, this is our perspective, this is where we’re coming from. The irony here is that I think a liberal paper could actually do well if it were honest about it. But because a lot of these papers, they’re dishonest about it, and they pretend in this sort of arrogance that they’re speaking from the voice of God about how the world really is, it drives a lot of people nuts, and that’s what I sense is part of the problem with them. But I mean, a lot of these things…my Dad was in the newspaper business for forty years, he was in the syndicated column business for a competing syndicate to the one I’m with, and you know, he told me before he died, he said look, Jonah, my entire career has been about managing in an industry in decline. There are larger trends going on here.

HH: Yup.

JG: But it seems to me that sort of embracing your losing qualities is not the way to go, and that’s what a lot of people seem to be doing.

HH: Boyd…I love Boyd’s statement, because it’s going to be exhibit number one in my museum of admissions against interest when it comes to the liberal media. If he honestly, and he apparently does, think Steve Chapman is the only conservative columnist in America worth running, and nobody called him on it, that goes to a depth of ignorance which is really trophy taking.

JG: I agree. And there’s also this nonsense you hear from a lot of liberals. You know, it’s of a piece with this sort of snooty, narcissistic thing, where they say oh, you know, look, I’m socially liberal, but I’m fiscally conservative.

HH: Right.

JG: …which is actually morally, a very problematic position to be in.

HH: Yup.

JG: But it’s sort of saying I like libertarians because they’re consistent, and they’re okay on all the social issues that I agree with them with, and then we’re just going to have an argument about green eye shade stuff. And so it’s really…he wasn’t even…he made it clear he was endorsing a libertarian.

HH: Yup.

JG: He wasn’t endorsing an actual conservative, because that is the demonized other that you cannot credit with being a human being. They have to be buggers like me.

HH: It’s really remarkable. I hope you blog on this over at the Corner. Now while I’ve got you, I want to play you Al Sharpton from Monday night, and then get a reaction to something. Here’s Al Sharpton on Monday night.

AS: As for the one Mormon running for office, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway, so don’t worry about that. That’s a temporary, that’s a temporary situation.

HH: Now Jonah, he says he was taken out of context. Is there any context out of which he could have been taken that will make this less offensive?

JG: (laughing) No, because it came out of Sharpton’s mouth to begin with. No, it’s a real problematic thing. But it’s also Al Sharpton. You know, we enjoy…I mean, Al Sharpton is like a loose tooth. It’s a lot of fun to fiddle with, because it hurts.

HH: (laughing)

JG: At the same time, you can’t really take the guy too seriously.

HH: But here he is, he pursued Imus like Javere for three weeks.

JG: Oh, yeah.

HH: And now he’s going to get a pass, isn’t he?

JG: Oh, of course he is. Of course he is. I mean, because to do otherwise would be to declare war with Al Sharpton. And no matter what, in that kind of PR fight, you’re going to be bringing a nail file to fight with the other guy who has an elephant gun.

HH: Now here’s a bit of delicious irony, and an e-mailer just wrote, and I’ve linked this, Katie Adams of the Rutgers Women Basketball team is from Ogden, Utah, and is believed to be a Mormon.

JG: Sweet.

HH: (laughing)

JG: (laughing)

HH: Sweet. Jonah Goldberg, always a pleasure. That’s exactly what it is. It’s very, very sweet. Irony is wonderful. Jonah Goldberg, my hat is off to you for drawing the ire of Jim Boyd. Thanks, Jonah.

End of interview.

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