Jonah Goldberg: Shameless Liar

Once upon a time, I appreciated Jonah Goldberg’s columns. I was thrilled when he came to speak at Hillsdale. I even liked to listen to YouTube videos of him (and a few other conservatives) debating liberals. As a budding conservative writer, the man was an inspiration to me…or rather, the man I thought Jonah Goldberg to be.

How simpler life seemed before Donald Trump’s entry into politics compelled so many righties to reveal who they really are.

Some remained honest, levelheaded, and focused on advancing conservatism. Some devoted themselves to pro-Trump sycophancy for fun or profit. And some became consumed with contempt for anyone or anything they saw as overly aligned with Trump and “Trumpism” (whatever that means), because Trump’s ascent was a vote of no confidence in their stewardship of the conservative movement.

But I digress. The point is, Jonah Goldberg is definitely a premium member of the third group, as reinforced in spectacular fashion recently.

At the beginning of last month, he wrote a column lamenting that the National Rifle Association is no longer “notably bipartisan” and is now “all in for the culture war.” The NRA has some very real problems, but Goldberg naturally fixated on complaints that have little value or interest beyond navel-gazing enthusiasts.

Near the end of the month, Dana Loesch and her husband Chris publicly criticized Goldberg for part of the following paragraph (emphasis added):

NRA folks today inveigh against “the socialists” with the same vehemence they used to reserve for gun-grabbers. UCLA law professor Adam Winkler, author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, observes that NRATV, the online media outlet of the NRA, has strayed far from the gun lane. “Now it’s focused on immigration, race, health care,” he told The New Republic. Dana Loesch, an NRA spokeswoman, has called the mainstream news media “the rat bastards of the earth” who deserve to be “curb-stomped.”

The quotes come from the following video:

Following a discussion of Trump’s habit of highlighting and condemning MSM dishonesty with rare (for a GOP leader) bluntness, Dana said, “I’m happy, frankly, to see them curb-stomped.” Proving her “rat bastards” assessment correct, various media outlets and figures at the time misrepresented the quote as advocating (or at least hinting at) physical curb-stomping.

Goldberg didn’t explicitly claim that’s what she meant, but his sparse quoting obviously left it a plausible interpretation. Given the trouble the smear caused at the time and the fact that conservative media corrected the record a year ago, the Loesches were understandably miffed to see it apparently resurrected in a “conservative” publication.

Jonah’s first instinct was to toss out a mild I’m sorry IF I got a quote wrong, then to play dumb on the sole basis that Dana had used the words “curb” and “stomped” in succession. Dana and Chris were unimpressed:

Finding himself without an ethical leg to stand on, Jonah soon shifted to condescending prick mode:

At the beginning, one could’ve argued that Jonah was merely lazy when he wrote the column, compounded by his own biases leaving him disinclined to think twice about the version of the quote he read in “public reporting.” But now, after having it explained to him yet refusing (out of God-knows-what egotistical personality defect) to do the slightest courtesy of adding a one-sentence parenthetical note that Dana was referring to a rhetorical curb-stomping, he crossed the line into abject dishonesty.

Rightfully disgusted, the Loesches refused to back down. Jonah responded with a meltdown of whiny, nasty, faux indignation that any of his National Review pals would immediately recognize as downright Trumpian if it had been spewed by anyone outside the clique:

He even had the gall to suggest that he was the victim here:

But the sleaziest moment was him deciding to add that maybe Dana was hinting at violence after all:

It’s not a new revelation that Goldberg is dishonest—just to name a few, he’s previously misrepresented the words of Mollie Hemingway, Dennis Prager, and John Ericsson, who wrote that conservatives should “withhold this support or work to oppose” Trump when he errs, but not “reflexively oppose him, as Kristol does” (emphasis added). Goldberg twisted his argument into him calling for conservatives to go “full Gorka,” and pretended to wonder if Ericsson “want[s] me to lie” on Trump’s behalf.

It’s also not news that Goldberg is a lazy, thin-skinned jackass; just look at his stunningly bad take on social-media censorship (which was so spectacularly inaccurate on who was getting censored he wrote a follow-up admitting it wasn’t just cranks, yet doubled down on everything else), or the utter fool he made of himself last year defending his claim that “you can support abortion and still be a conservative.” But this latest scandal brought all of his character flaws together in stunning fashion.

There’s something fitting about this dustup coinciding with Goldberg’s departure from National Review to start a new website with Weekly Standard co-killer Stephen Hayes, which Goldberg envisions—I kid you not—as a news source that his kind of conservative “won’t be embarrassed to invoke when speaking to liberal relatives around the dinner table.”

Demonstrating that you’ll not only refuse to issue clarifications when you publish something misleading, but will launch into defensive histrionics against the victim of your “error,” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that your new journalistic venture will be factually reliable…or that it won’t embarrass anyone.

4 thoughts on “Jonah Goldberg: Shameless Liar

  1. I see no problem with Jonah Goldberg’s article. I acknowledge Mrs. Loesch as a capable and intelligent defender of 2A and as a political commentator (90 percent of the time); however, Goldberg quoted Dana Loesch accurately, and she didn’t like it. She threw a tantrum, and her following tried to bully the journalist. In my opinion, if she does not want to be quoted for saying outrageous things, she should not say them. Remember, this is the same woman who put Klan hoods on Thomas the Train to make a point that could have been made in a million other ways. I think sometimes that she says and does these things to get attention then play victim. The video clip shows her saying it. There really is not a debate. If she is ashamed of saying it, why not just come out and tell readers of the article that she might not have used the best phrases in this clip but did not intend for this to be taken literally? Her twitter tantrum made her sound like a whiny little girl.

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    • I think it’s telling that you either can’t or won’t engage with any of the above stated reasons for why the passage was misleading and Goldberg’s refusal to clarify — then his eventual endorsement of the malicious interpretation. You just repeat Goldberg’s spin.

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      • It was not misleading. She said it, and he quoted it. Yes, she was speaking in hyperbole, but most intelligent people do not need that told to them. This article was focused on the NRA as a whole and how its insistence on cultural critique may be alienating some of its base. She is smart enough to know, also, that using a violent hyperbole will bring criticism. So why do it? Unless she wants the attention. She said “She’s happy to see em’ curb stomped.” Goldberg violated no professional standards in using her words to support his assertion that the NRA’s cultural critiques may not always help it. I won’t “engage with the above stated reasons” because his interpretation is not malicious. He never interpreted her words. He never said that he thinks she is serious. He used her as an example, and rightfully so. It was a great example. The article simply used her words to prove a larger point, words she gladly provided.

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  2. Jonah’s a smear merchant.

    Recall the series of pieces he wrote against the “Flight 93” essay, an essential element of which was Jonah’s problem with the anonymity of the author. Anton noticed and remarked on this.
    Jonah “the idea man” couldn’t handle the ideas, needed the identity of the author so he could do his usual routine. The guy is a scumbag. He’s hired to *be* a scumbag. Consider that for a moment and then you begin to understand the extent of the problem.

    Plenty of Conservatives know exactly what’s going on. If you think the party’s getting back together, that’s not what’s in our future. People don’t seem to understand the stakes. Goldberg will destroy any Right – institutionally, ideologically, whatever – that his faction doesn’t control.

    The point of contention – the very entry point of Jonah, et. al. into Conservatism – is the Straussian framework that, in guise of compliment, moves the West off a historical-heritage ontology and onto that of a philosophical-universal. Nothing was supposed to change (and that the philosophical is drawn from our history suggests no change). In reality, EVERYTHING changes. The institutions themselves are on the chopping block. Turns out culture matters. Ontology is an accurate word as it’s all-encompassing.
    The “dumb” Conservative on the street can believe he holds onto his heritage, because what he thinks doesn’t matter – also part of Strauss. Strauss moves us onto imperial footing, which the AngloSaxon root culture is fundamentally ill suited to perform under our AMERICAN roots. As in all empire, you either create a caste system to propagate the culture across a diverse populace. Or you simply cease to be, both as a culture and a functioning polity. Jonah doesn’t give a hoot – he just wants our military and credit card.

    The Trump antagonism is low smear peddling – you lower yourself if you give it any hearing. There’s no slight too small, too unrelated, for these guys not to make use of. The purpose is to lower and ultimately destroy. It’s all because Trump is not indoctrinated in this philosophical construct of denial – he was too busy working to learn the “approved script”. If you read Strauss, you hear exactly what someone like Paul Ryan regurgitates. Conservatives again do not understand the inherent tradeoffs that were his actual purpose, he wasn’t disinterested scholarship. Many Conservatives have no idea what is the issue motivating these never Trumpers – you’ve got a very ideological, antagonistic anti-heritage element, and a stable of dumb and corrupt fellow travelers on the payroll.

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