In recent weeks, National Review has been the subject of a number of articles — or, really, one article that has been heavily borrowed from — concerning what is said to be our looming demise, the consequence of an imminent costly defeat in the lawsuit filed against us by Penn State’s Michael Mann.
By the likes of The Week, Salon, and Politico in quick succession, we are said to be in “deep trouble,” likely “doomed,” facing a “wipe out.”
This is in part a tale of lazy reporting and even headline cribbing.
None of the writers of these articles ever called National Review. They didn’t ask what our chances in court were, or even bother to get basic facts about the case right. Damon Linker of The Week, the one who got this meme rolling, made rudimentary mistakes without trying to check them, and then lectured us about journalistic standards.
You’d think people who write about media and the law would know, instinctively, to consider this factor: libel insurance.
It interests me, as the publisher, that these reporters all work for institutions that presumably find libel insurance essential to their operations, as necessary as renting offices, hosting websites, contracting printers, buying desks and toner cartridges.
We weren’t asked, but we tell them anyway: National Review has libel insurance. We’ve had it for decades. Why? In case we are sued by someone like Professor Mann.
Admittedly, our insurance does not cover all costs related to this suit. So as a magazine that has lost money for 58 years, we have, given this additional burden, sought, very publicly, to raise money to address those costs which our insurance won’t. Such as? For example, we have excellent lawyers representing us in this matter, and they do so at what are (for them) drastically reduced rates. Reduced or not, these rates can and do exceed some of the insurance costs, and we seek help from our conservative friends to cover the overages. Why? Because we are determined to prevail in this case, and to have the kind of expert legal counsel necessary to make sure that happens. And it will happen.
Notable in all these reports is the sense of glee at the prospect of a conservative magazine of commentary and opinion kicking the bucket. They have a death wish on our behalf. So much for tolerance and intellectual debate. And a culture of free speech.
It used to be that journalists at least felt a common interest in protecting one another’s First Amendment rights. No more.
So be it. We’ll wear their wishful expectation of our demise as a badge of honor.
I’ll go even farther and invite the editors, writers, and other functionaries of The Week, Salon, Politico, and other such media outlets to save the date of November 19, 2055: Mark your calendars, and if you can, book your flights to New York and reserve your hotel rooms. Prepare to join the editors and publisher and staff of National Review that evening (it will be a Friday) at the Waldorf Astoria for the festive Anniversary Gala to celebrate National Review’s 100th year of continued publication. We’ll start with cocktails at 6 p.m., then a glorious dinner, speeches, and dancing into the cool autumn night. And then the next day begin work on our second century.