Today I start what I hope will be a semi-regular feature on this site: the "Worthless Slate Story" of the day (or week, or however often I blog on this).
Slate is, in my humble opinion, America's most worthless national elite publication. Yes, there are occassionally interesting articles. But most of it consists of not particularly insightful opinions from the intelligent but not particularly knowledgeable about any one topic, a bit left of center, and often condescending writers who seem to make up most of its staff. Perhaps most importantly, Slate has never in its history, to my knowledge, reported a single fact. Actually contributing to the world's knowledge seems pretty much anathema to their mission of somewhat intelligent, highly snarky, and contrarian just for the sake of being contrarian commentary.
Bushisms and the pleasingly departed Kerryisms (which we took apart on Spinsanity) are good examples of worthless Slate work. So is most of the stuff written by Timothy Noah and Mickey Kaus, to take the two worst offenders.
(Please note that they are both smart guys and I generally agree with their politics. And I have met Mickey in person a few times and he's a nice guy. But their work never contributes anything substantive.)
Today's "Worthless Slate Story" comes from Tim Noah, whose Chatterbox column is regularly the barely organized thoughts of some guy who wouldn't get much traffic if he wrote a blog. The fact that Noah gets paid a full salary to turn these thoughts into a column 2 or 3 times a week is quite depressing.
In yesterday's "Chatterbox," Noah summarized a story that appeared in the Washington Monthly two months ago. I read it in print form a few weeks after it was delievered to my apartment and then a few weeks later I blogged about it on here.
At the time I was a little embarassed I had taken so long to blog on the issue of the quality of VA hospitals and national service. But, you know, this is just a blog that hardly anyone reads (except maybe when Slate links to me, which I'm guessing they won't do anymore if anyone there reads this) and it's for fun, not my job. Meanwhile, Tim Noah gets paid what I must assume is a solid middle class salary to write for Slate and he doesn't get around to it until yesterday.
His take on the piece -- that it shows the much maligned concept of "socialized medicine" is actually a proven success in the U.S. -- is perfectly valid, if not much different than that of the author, Phillip Longman. But honestly, that counts as a meaningful article in a professional publication read by millions of people and owned by the Washington Post? That is good enough for the people who pay his bills? It's nothing. It's worthless. But it's par for the course over at Slate, America's most worthless publication.
More on this topic soon, no doubt.