91 Comments
May 11, 2023·edited May 11, 2023

Legacy media has a Trump problem full stop. That's both the disease and the symptom. When I open up The Atlantic I don't need three articles on Trump, two on DeSantis, and one on MTG. I want, like, actual news and thought. And when anything does get through it's so overly sensitive to not accidently, maybe, saying something that can possibly help the "bad guys" that I really do not trust them. They will bend the truth if it helps "The Narrative" and this has been obvious for a long time. I disagree with a lot of what Freddie says but at least I know he's not going to twist facts or play stupid semantics to score points.

That's why the weirdest thing is that Jamelle Bouie gets a lone name check from the n+1 crowd. He's a ChatGPT prompt that is basically "interpret this news story in the most inflammatory identarian way possible". The living embodiment of a left-wing where the bulk of their morality is defined as being anti-Republican. The number of Republicans he lets live rent free in his head could both swing New York and end the housing crisis. I don't read the news for the left's version of the Tea Party. And as long as this, more than anything, is the ideological tilt of legacy media, then alternative press is going to thrive. I think one reason the NYT has succeeded beyond all others, even employing Bouie, is that they simply cover too much to be monomaniacally Trump obsessed.

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"The Face of Seung-Hui Cho" is one of the greatest polemics ever put to print. Never before had I seen such a raw, brutal take on the Asian American social position. It is indeed sad that perhaps no journal is willing to touch that sort of essay today, which is why platforms like Substack are so integral to free speech. I've written articles myself that I doubt would be published anywhere else due to their controversial nature, particularly regarding race.

Perhaps one day we'll see a lit mag like this. But the few explicitly anti-woke ones, like IM-1776, seem to go the opposite way in their own form of reaction. I just want a journal that truly allows for well-written controversial viewpoints of all stripes to be heard.

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As a reader/consumer, it’s hard for me to think of any publication that’s gone downhill as much as The Atlantic. In the mid-late 2010s it did thoughtful long form pieces and cultural analysis - now it’s all TV recaps, pop-science/nutrition ephemera, and insufferable Arthur Brooks sermons on how to live. They also axed what was once a very strong comments section. These days I just read it for Derek Thompson.

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May 11, 2023Liked by Freddie deBoer

“n+1 was once a vehicle for getting sensitive-but-horny Harvard graduates some Manhattan pussy”

I haven’t read n+1 in a long time but that quote perfectly encapsulates the n+1 I remember

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I don't know where you got the idea that the Atlantic is somehow independent from political trends. That sad publication has been home to the most pathetic and voluminous COVID fearmongering possible over the past few years, for example.

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The N1 piece was nothing more than a long rambling prelude to a warning shot fired across the Times bow for insufficient woke orthodoxy on trans issues. How tedious.

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“Hey, remember when I listed you in 30 Under 35-38, Taylor?”

Okay, who else laughed?

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I resubscribed because of this piece, Freddie. Not just because of the beautiful writing but also because of the issues you care about. Can you somehow transfer the content of the piece about involuntary commitment to here? This is a really important issue, and feeds into many others. I can think of nothing worse than having a son or daughter who is psychotic and refuses treatment, except to have that same individual kill or be killed by someone else because they would not enter treatment. And this piece, about the privileges granted to those who were lucky enough to attend a certain school, or work at a certain place, simply by virtue of having been there, is spot on. I personally suspect it was not the author but the editors who gutted the message of the book review. NYT has to be mindful of who their audience is, if they want to maintain their status.

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Just a quick note on the Daily Beast piece. In my estimation, keeping people in hospital for a sufficient length of time to restore their rationality is a greater barrier to achieving sustained remissions than getting them there in the first place. I think almost everyone who's been psychotic has paid a visit to the hospital at one point or another. Probably several--for many, dozens. I'm not saying there's no room for improvement on the admission end, but the major trouble I see is that people are released into situations that don't support continued treatment before they are able to ensure that themselves. Or alternatively, when response to treatment is poor, patients are released with a shruggy "oh well" before alternative regimens can be trialed. There are a lot of drugs (and a few other things) that can treat psychosis and not every drug works for every person. Once someone is fairly well you can fiddle with med regimens outpatient. It is much more challenging to try to stabilize someone in the throes of madness via a weekly office visit. It's devastating to think about people who could have made complete recoveries deteriorating on the street because the system doesn't have the patience to trial more than one or two major drugs in the same hospital stay. And even when a treatment is working well, it can take a long time--months, not days or weeks--for someone to recover and re-orient to shared reality, if you like. Unfortunately, people can find themselves back in situations that are positively crazy-making, certainly not crazy-attenuating, and immediately begin to deteriorate until they are sick enough to return to hospital. And so the cycle continues...

I've been in every corner of the "needs hospital / gets hospital" 2x2--hospitalized when I didn't need it, and not hospitalized when I did. I think there are still many cases where people are inappropriately hospitalized. In my situation, the cause was always an inaccurate attribution of suicidality. I'd spend weeks in the hospital, at a time when I had no insurance, trying in vain to assuage the staff that I wasn't planing on dying, actually, and could I please go home now. This was many years before I developed severe mania and psychosis. Doctors don't want to make Type II errors about potentially suicidal patients and have them die/get sued, so they make a lot of Type I errors, at great expense and inconvenience (to put it mildly) to those involved.

So in sum I think it's more complicated that just shifting the decision further towards "hospitalization," and that there are more situations to consider than the certainly important and currently salient one of the acutely psychotic patient.

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I share your pain about “the comma”. I wish old media, new new media, or the recently-passed “new” media, would (or would have) employed people who cared more about grammar. Not much turns me off a piece more than crap English. So I appreciate that pieces here are written well, regardless of what is being written about.

It will be interesting to see how the new economy for consumption of the written word continues to evolve. It appears that “traffic” has passed its heyday, at least for this iteration. Even NYT has leaned back towards the subscriber model. And substack is at the forefront of that as well. The balance of the good of supporting “quality” content, vs the bad of silofication, will be interesting to watch in this current/“new” era.

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I'd love to say more than just 'fucking hell, this is beautiful writing' but there it is. And perhaps it's all I can say, having never really consumed any of the publications in question, let alone heard of n+1 in particular. But I laughed out loud and felt mental air punches happening when some of those rhetorical flourishes snapped like a peacock's tail. I subscribe for writing like this. It makes me feel good.

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May 11, 2023·edited May 11, 2023

I like writing that makes me think, in an unanticipated way.

Most journals, most writers are as predictable as yesterday's dinner.

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This is a terrific piece. Thank you for writing it.

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Your piece fell off the front page because you didn't believe hard enough in the Daily Beast's reputation for excellence.

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"n+1 was once a vehicle for getting sensitive-but-horny Harvard graduates some Manhattan pussy"

Ha. I met a few of the n+1 guys a long time ago at a party after they published "Diary of a Very Bad Year: Confessions of an Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager". Perfect description. I forget specifics, but one of them was secretly very rich and embarrassed about it. He was ranting about wall street while wearing a royal oak.

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‘Anyway, I know n+1 must be a good journal, because they published me…’

Easily my favourite part of this piece.

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