Friday, October 20, 2006
OK, let's get this over with:
On Wednesday, The New Republic and I parted ways, ending my four-year association with the magazine. The ostensible reason for my release concerns my relationship with Franklin Foer and the magazine's other editors. However, the irreconcilable ideological differences between myself and the top editors at the magazine have been clear to me for months now, and clear to them as well. The magazine gave me the opportunity to report on controversial subjects such as Iraq and the war on terrorism, and for that I am deeply grateful. I hope, and expect, that The New Republic will continue its 90-year tradition of truth-telling.

I would like to send a note of appreciation to the many friends and respected colleagues who work at the magazine. You have taught me very much, and I hope to live up to your high standards in my future work.

--Spencer Ackerman
The ostensible reason for my release concerns my relationship with Franklin Foer and the magazine's other editors.

Your "relationship with Franklin Foer and the magazine's other editors"? I'm not even sure what that means. It sounds like you guys got into a fist fight together.

However, the irreconcilable ideological differences between myself and the top editors at the magazine have been clear to me for months now, and clear to them as well.

This is unfortunate. But this really does raise some questions. One of the things TNR loves to say is how people who have diverse points of view can still publish under the same masthead at TNR. But if you were let go because of ideological differences, this makes what they say into a bold face lie. This is especially pertinent because your opposition to the war in Iraq and the neo-con imperialist agenda is clearly the ideological difference you're talking about. That they think your opposition is too extreme for them when your opposition is very mainstream is an indication of how much the neo-con kool-aid the editors of Joe Lieberman Weekly swallowed.

I think, however, you're treading lightly on one pertinant topic: TNR's owners, especially Martin Peretz (MP). For a while now, I've wondered how your close friendship with Matthew Yglesias would affect your position at TNR. Matthew has been saying some none too nice things about MP, and it seems to me your "editors" (ie Foer with some conjoling from MP) might have concluded even though Yglesias wasn't your sockpuppet, his view of MP wasn't substantially from yours. One thing about TNR is even though one can have differences in opinion about politics, one cannot have differences in how magnanimous MP is - at least publicly. It seems to me the unkind words about MP from Yglesias were not appreciated from your Bosses.

By the way, you being let go makes TNR look even worse because technically Lee "sprezzatura" Siegel is still an editor for TNR while you aren't.
Blogger Dan the Man | 8:19 AM


i'm probably about where you are on the heirarchy tree in DC journalism, except in hollywood instead. some real success but still a long way up to go, and still hoping someday to havbe that big studio job (aka an op-ed column in the NY Times for you).

now, you can pussyfoot and bullshit all you want, and yes, maybe that will help with your career path. you can write pussilanimous posts like the one above, and keep your non-bomb-thrower cred. i get it. DC is expensive, you probably are in family start-up mode, messing with these people is hard.

but the direction you are going has precedent--its name is david broder, david ignatius etc. don't do it, dude.

marty peretz is a bad person. it is what it is. TNR is a shitbox. it is what it is. it has blown with the winds of power without fail for 50 years. if the "contrarian center" moves to the right, be sure that TNR was doing the dragging. i can't begin to the list the number of things it has got wrong. and bullshit references to good cultural criticism are beside the point--the editorial board and its policies, led by marginal thinker and clever marrier marty peretz, have been on the wrong side of everything for a long time. i'm glad your checks cleared, and i'm glad you stepped up the corporate ladder--i've done the same thing here--but at a certain point you've got to sack up and stop being such a softie. it doesn't bode well for your future.
Blogger Robert Green | 8:51 AM

"I hope, and expect, that The New Republic will continue its 90-year tradition of truth-telling."

I think the verb you're looking for here is "resume".
Blogger Delicious | 9:41 AM

90 years minus 20 years of Peretz is still a net 70 years of truth-telling, or 90 years of 82% truth telling. Pretty impressive, but not something that Peretz would be wise to mention.
Blogger John Emerson | 9:48 AM

I guess I'm just repeating what others have said, but too many compliments is never a bad thing, so here goes.

Though I've subscribed to TNR for a long time, I think that the magazine veered badly off course starting in late 2002, during the push for war in Iraq, and I don't think it has ever fully recovered. I get the sense from your writing and your blog posts--which have been consistently excellent--that you have been fighting the good fight from within TNR to try to correct that course.

They very much need someone like you there, and I fear that without you, their ship will sail rapidly back toward Peretz land. Oh well. Their loss. I wish you the best of luck. You're an excellent journalist and I'm sure you'll do well.
Blogger A.L. | 1:28 PM

I look forward to reading you elsewhere. Best of luck in future endeavors.
Blogger Jude Nagurney Camwell | 2:06 PM

Thrilled you have a blog (and linked in to it

If you're having problems getting the hang of Blogger, and need any help, just drop me a line.

Best wishes for your new venture.
Blogger Dorothy King | 2:40 PM

I'm very sorry to see you go. You've been a stellar writer and an insightful thinker, and I've enjoyed reading your pieces since I subscribed back in high school.

I will say that I am disheartened that your departure will undoubtedly fuel those who wish to tag TNR as nothing but a conservative shill rag, which is entirely untrue. Reading TNR--yourself, Beinart, Foer, Zimmerman, the whole gang--has solidified my commitment to the party and to the liberal ideals it stands for. The obsessive desire by some members of the left to see TNR go down in flames is spectacularly frustrating to me, especially when the level of anger and the policy critiques you'd find from TNR directed at the right is not noticably different from those you'd see at DKos or like blogs anyway. This civil war needs to end, and it needs to end now.

All that notwithstanding, best of luck, and I look forward to reading you where-ever you land your feat.
Blogger David Schraub | 4:01 PM

I'm shocked and very disappointed. I've been a TNR reader for 26 years now, and your writing on Iraq was one of the best things TNR had to offer.

I wish you well and will look here for news of your next ventures.

Good luck,

Neil Purcell
Blogger Neil | 9:06 PM

Oh, this contrarian business (the writers at TNR think they're liberals, and contrarians...) is tricky. Tricky, tricky, tricky.
Blogger Jay Rosen | 11:07 PM

Eh, now I can get all my Spencer in one place without having to mess with the rest of 'em...
Blogger Robert Farley | 7:18 AM

Spencer, it is most certainly their loss. Your posts were the only reason I even checked out The Plank (though I prefered the days of Iraq'd).

Now I have one less stop to make during the daily rounds. Well, one less and one more.

Good luck. Good things will come to you. Of that, I would wager a lot.

-Eric Martin (not Peretz)
Blogger Eric Martin | 2:08 PM


You were the best part of TNR. I have to admit that I cancelled my subscription just before the invasion of Iraq because of Beinart and the editor's pushing a moron's effort. But I have looked for your reporting ever since.

I hope you land on your feet soon and start more of your fabulous reporting at an institution that realizes what a gem you are.
Blogger Skanking1 | 11:50 AM

Dear Mr. Ackerman:
To mark your departure from that war-mongering rag you don't spare praise for (with all that about "high standards" and a "90-year tradition") I thought that I would run excerpts from a few of the "classics" from your work, including a 2002 article by you entitled "How to Time War in Iraq" and this from 2003:
"It had the feel of a victory lap. After delivering his devastating Iraq presentation to the U.N. Security Council this week, Secretary of State Colin Powell basked in the adulatory glow of the Sunday morning talk shows. Tim Russert brought the trophy, a Gallup poll showing public trust in Powell eclipsing trust in his boss on the Iraq issue by more than two to one(Powell 63 percent, Bush 24 percent). Powell, with military discipline, waved it off. "I just go about my business and don't worry about polls," he said, with every muscle in his face struggling valiantly to suppress a pie-eating grin."
Blogger Daniel J. McKeown | 11:09 PM