Nicholas Confessore

Nicholas Confessore is a reporter for The New York Times. Previously he was an American Prospect senior correspondent and an editor of The Washington Monthly.

Recent Articles

Finite Jest

The frenzy surrounding Dave Eggers and his debut memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius , reached a certain kind of climax in late April. Eggers had already been beatified by critics, his book lovingly reviewed as a major breakthrough, and the journal he currently edits, McSweeney 's, enshrined as a must-read, when The New York Times 's Michiko Kakutani grouped Eggers among the emergent ranks of "pale-reds"--writers who have fused "the cerebral and the visceral, the high and the low, the world of ideas and the world of raw experience" to transcend the distinction Philip Rahv famously drew between the "palefaces" and "redskins" of American literature. If it was weird, in a meta sort of way, that A.H.W.O.S.G. inspired such gargantuan buzz--messianism and the repercussions of fame being central themes of the book itself--it was typical of that buzz that Kakutani compared Eggers not just to such postmodernists as Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon but also to post-post-...

And You Thought Tim Russert Was Tough

Back in September, subscribers to Red Herring magazine's e-mail bulletin "The Red Eye" received a missive they probably weren't expecting. "Tony Perkins here with a special invitation," began the message. "As most Red Herring readers know, I've stuck my neck out early in the next presidential campaign by personally backing my friend Governor George W. Bush." Perkins, the magazine's founder and editor in chief, went on to invite readers to join "'Technology and Entertainment Entrepreneurs for George Bush,' a national grass-roots effort" that--the aforementioned description notwithstanding--already included such tech industry heavies as Floyd Kvamme, John Chambers, Jim Barksdale, Gregory Slayton, Michael Dell, and Tim Draper. Perkins also invited readers to attend a September 30 fundraiser or become "a really big Fish"--get it?--by "committing to raise $5,000." After a number of subscribers complained of being spammed with a partisan fundraising appeal, Perkins...

Weak Week

Weekly Standard editor William Kristol was fired from ABC's This Week at the behest of the liberal media conspiracy. That, at any rate, is the contention of conservative columnist Mona Charen, who writes that "most chat shows have ratios of liberals to conservatives in the neighborhood of 3 to 2" and "the number of liberal producers to conservatives is probably 20 to 1." This must be what they call New Math. Until recently, This Week featured Kristol, George Will, George Stephanopoulos, Cokie Roberts, and Sam Donaldson as its regular round table. In Charen's world view, Roberts, Donaldson, and Stephanopoulos formed part of a "liberal/centrist troika" whose slings and arrows Kristol and Will bravely endured each week. But even if, by some warped political logic, one accepts that Sam and Cokie are "liberals," they are hardly to liberalism--or even to centrism--what Kristol and Will are to conservatism. Like all political chat shows, This Week...

Citing the Right

Considering last year's frenzied coverage of Monicagate and then the sniping coverage of the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle, one might wonder what has happened to the Great Liberal Media Conspiracy. If the myth is not yet buried, here's another nail for the coffin: A study released in June by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting and the Institute for Public Accuracy--two nonpartisan watchdog groups--found that, once again, conservative think tanks have led the field in media influence during the past year. The venerable Brookings Institution, a more or less centrist outfit, is still the overall leader in media citations. But the next three are the Cato Institute (strongly libertarian), the Heritage Foundation (strongly conservative), and the American Enterprise Institute (center-right). The top four account for about 40 percent of all cites. Overall, right-leaning think tanks accounted for 46 percent of cites, centrist think tanks for 45...

Conspiracies for Fools for Scandal

The New York Times is known for its scrupulous approach to assigning book reviews, frequently disqualifying reviewers who have even the most tenuous personal or professional links to a book's author or authors. It was surprising, then, when the Times assigned Neil Lewis, a well-regarded political reporter at the paper's D.C. bureau, to review Joe Conason and Gene Lyons's The Hunting of the President: The Ten Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton . The problem is that a running theme of The Hunting of the President is the unprofessionalism of the national press, including and especially the Times , during the Clinton years. The book is particularly critical of reporters' constant distortion and exaggeration of evidence in eager pursuit of a latter-day Watergate, and many newspapers' ongoing reluctance to admit or retract substantial errors of fact. Lewis's own reporting--he has occasionally filed on Whitewater--comes under criticism not just in The Hunting of the President...

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