HELP ME, MY SON'S NOT TALENTED!

Testily responding to Andrew Sullivan's charge that John "The Melissa Rivers of Conservatism" Podhoretz's being hired as the editor of the magazine that his father edited for almost 35 years is the result of nepotism, David Frum writes:

"Norman retired from the magazine 12 years ago. He has no power to hire or fire editors. The hiring of John was proposed by the current editor, Neal Kozodoy, who is no relation to John.

A reality-based writer might have noticed similar facts about Jonah Goldberg and Bill Kristol. Jonah Goldberg was not hired at NRO; he created NRO. And it was not for Irving Kristol's sake that Rupert Murdoch selected Bill Kristol to head the team that created the Weekly Standard: Kristol at that point had served as chief of staff of the vice president of the United States -- and had done as much as any individual to mobilize the opposition to the Hillary Clinton healthcare plan."

Yes, I'm sure Norman Podhoretz's fame, let alone his current position as editor at large of Commentary, had nothing whatever to do with his son's being hired as editor of Commentary. Similarly, having father Irving Kristol in his corner probably played no part in Bill's steady rise through the conservative ranks. And being the son of right-wing carnival barker Lucianne Goldberg is clearly unrelated to Jonah's now being able to demonstrate his ignorance of things that don't appear on TV from his position as a nationally syndicated columnist.

Of course that's all ridiculous, and of course those guys have all benefited from their relationships to powerful famous people. That's not to say that they entirely owe their careers as conservative writers to their conservative writer parents, just mostly. Jonah himself admitted as much in a 1998 Salon article, where he described how he had parlayed his access to the Linda Tripp tapes into some media notoriety, after which he was brought in to develop NRO. But perhaps Frum's playing dumb about "nepotism" makes sense (Frum himself is the son of one of Canada's best-known journalists, the late Barbara Frum.) In order for these guys to convince themselves that they've gotten by on merit, they need to define the word completely out of existence.

(See Eric Alterman for the best take on the rise of JPod.)

--Matthew Duss

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