The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

How Franklin Foer Fired Timothy Noah

Posted on | March 23, 2013 | 30 Comments

First, some idiot kid name Olga asks Nate Thayer to write for free. Then Matthew Yglesias buys himself a million-dollar D.C. townhouse. Now, an award-winning liberal journalist gets the ax:

On Thursday, New Republic columnist Timothy Noah received an email from editor Frank Foer asking him to meet at 2:30 pm on Friday. During the meeting, Foer told Noah that he was out of a job.
When Noah got to the New Republic’s lobby, on the way out the door, he decided to tweet the news himself: “I just got fired from @tnr. Don’t have a clue why. Anybody got a job?”
“All I got was your column isn’t a good fit for the direction the magazine is going in,” Noah told The Huffington Post shortly after.

Hmmm. “Your column isn’t a good fit.” Let’s imagine what Franklin Foer would have said if he had really been honest with Noah:

Dude, you’re 54 years old. Fifty f–king four, an aging Boomer with a loyal readership of aging Boomers, and that’s not where the action is these days, unless we want our advertising base to be mainly AARP, reverse mortages and Super Beta Prostate. Which we don’t, for obvious reasons. . . .
For crying out loud, Marty sold us to a 29-year-old multimillionaire. Think about that, OK?
Do you think Chris gives a damn about your Hillman Award? And so what, you wrote a book? About income inequality — as if Mister Facebook Wonder Boy is losing sleep over that.

What? . . . Well, yeah, but “quality” is in the eye of the beholder, really. Nowadays, it’s all about the clicks, Tim.
I’ve seen the analytics and, quite frankly, you’re not pulling your weight. Page-views, Facebook “likes,” re-Tweets — pick a metric, doesn’t matter. BuzzFeed gets more hits on a cute kitty video than most of your stuff gets.

Chris wants more hip, sexy content. He uses that word a lot, “sexy.” There’s basically two kinds of writing for him: “sexy” and “sucks.” And I’m not saying your stuff sucks, Tim, but it’s not sexy. I mean, when did you ever have a column go viral on Reddit, huh? When did any college kid ever re-Tweet you with an “LOL”? . . .
Sure, sure. I know you can try harder, Tim, but your salary is just too high for what we get in return, traffic-wise. I’ve got kids e-mailing me stuff every day, begging me to publish their stuff for free. These kids are desperate — liberal arts degrees from good schools, tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, working part-time at Starbucks and just trying to catch a break.
Why should I keep paying you big bucks for un-sexy columns when these kids write pretty good for free? Besides, you’ve got less than 6,000 Twitter followers, Tim, and some of these kids have 10,000 or more, so they can really drive the hits. And you’ve got, what? Fourteen hundred Facebook friends? There are high school kids with twice that.

It’s a business, Tim. Not personal. Chris doesn’t want to be the bad cop, so it’s my job to cut you loose. And trust me, you won’t be the last. There’s way too much un-sexy around here.

That’s what Franklin Foer would have said, if he were honest. But guys like that don’t get paid to be honest, do they?



  • Mike G.

    Sucks to get old and have to go out on the job market. DAMHIKT

  • gvanderleun

    “There’s basically two kinds of writing for him: “sexy” and “sucks.” “And that’s not really because he’s gay as a day in May, dude, really. It’s not. I promise. And hey what a dude Chris is after he brought me back at that Beauchamp fraud I went along with back in 2007 and ignored my concentrated bullshit book on the election of 2008. And he didn’t bring me back because I have a cute butt. He told me so right after I admired his at the midnight job interview.”

  • robertstacymccain

    Lots of 50-somethings getting cut loose nowadays: Middle-aged employees = higher health-insurance premiums.

  • robertstacymccain

    An expert at reading between the lines, eh?

  • FrankG

    a little too old (by 30 yrs) to be an Obama speechwriter, too

  • DaveO

    Agism, like racism and sexism and homophobia: expected practice of the Left.

  • t-dahlgren

    Let’s hope that’s all it indicates.

  • Franklin Foer

    If I don’t axe Nate, I could be next. I am not too far from fifty myself.

    Dean Barnett, may he rest in peace, had my number a long time ago.

  • Franklin Foer

    Arthur Miller said: “You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away – a man is not a piece of fruit.”

    But when you are an editor on the edge, better them than me. Every man for himself!

  • M. Thompson

    So, is this how the future editor of Viral Read is going to operating.

  • Franklin Foer

    You hurt my feelings with the truth.

    It is liberating.

  • gvanderleun

    You forget that I operated as New York senior editor and European publisher of Penthouse and Omni for about 15 years on and off with stints as a NY/Boston book editor and early web person for Fortune/Time. I know how the Bos-Wash game is played.

  • gvanderleun

    Oh yes, I too lament the premature passing of the wonderful Dean. And he did have your number down almost as well as some Silver Daddy might have strapped your boi-ish self into a love swing and had his way with you, Franklin, you aging twink.

  • Patrick Carroll

    This is the Franklin Foer connected to Scott Thomas Beauchamp and Elspeth Reeve, right?

    And *Foer* still has a job?

    Damn, baby. Just damn.

  • sablegsd

    Is it ok if I don’t GAF?

  • FOAF

    Barnett’s piece doesn’t apply to just Foer, it is the entire MSM. A friend of mine was telling me about the press grilling his boss at a building site where someone had died – it later turned out the “accident” was caused by the “victim”. He complained, “They had their stories already written. THEY WEREN’T TRYING TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED”.
    Sadly that is pretty much how the MFM operates these days.

  • Becca Lower

    That’s ViralRead. Get it right.

  • jsn2

    This political magazine inside baseball stuff is confusing to us blue collar types. So, some young rich liberal homo publisher tells his “fake stories are ok as long as they promote leftist ideology and we have reason to believe we can get away with it because we’ve done it before” ethics challenged hatchet man editor to fire an old leftist writer who doesn’t have enough readers in the magazines’ newly targeted younger and more liberal demographic. I don’t see why an old, white, half ass carpenter like myself trying to survive in Obama’s hope ‘n change economy should give a shit about the trials and tribulations of the liberal elite media eating itself. Are you guys just eating the popcorn and enjoying the show?

  • herddog505

    And I’m not saying your stuff sucks, Tim, but it’s not sexy. I mean, when did you ever have a column go viral on Reddit, huh? When did any college kid ever re-Tweet you with an “LOL”?

    It seems to me that, despite the protestations of many media-types (usually when they’re caught making sh*t up or engaging in some other form of malpractice), the news has always been, in the end, about the bottom line. Hence we get wall-to-wall coverage of the strange disappearance of a cute blonde college girl, or special reports about the antics of drunken celebrities, etc: this sort of thing is, to borrow a term, “sexy”.

    In the past, publishers could measure the success of their organization by Nielsen ratings and circulation numbers (Peabody or Hillman Awards and the like are only good for bragging rights in the trade; the general public doesn’t give a damn about them). What are re-Tweets and Facebook “likes” and so forth but electronic versions of these metrics?

    The fault is not in our publishers but in ourselves: Americans don’t really seem to want thoughtful, intelligent, well-researched pieces. They want “sexy”: simple, direct stories that don’t require much though or education or knowledge to understand and push their buttons, either because some hot chick is involved or because it gets their dander up by talking about sports or (for us political junkies) politics.

  • Scribe of Slog (McGehee)

    They fired him because he’s too old? Are you sure? It’s TNR, maybe they fired him because he got 1/100th of a tan.

  • JeffS

    Well, the popcorn is tasty when you sprinkle it with schadenfreude. 😀

    But the truth is, this sort of in fighting is good intelligence on the inner workings of lefties.

  • richard mcenroe

    I think Foer will do well with this and other moves like it. Remember how much good TNR did pushing Mussolini back in the thirties…

  • Chris Roberts

    Sorry mutt gets kicked to the curb. Heel mutt. Now do/turn tricks.

  • Esau’s Message

    So now, tell me bubbula, who is this Franklin Foer you keep mentioning? Would you be surprised to find that the WiKi entry for this schlepp doesn’t include his birthdate? Oy? I know about his brothers, Jonathan and Joshua, named after biblical leaders of the Jewish people. But I know nothing of this Fran-kl-in Foe-ha-oyer. Tell me, is he so much all that younger than the other boys in the bath?

  • Esau’s Message

    I don’t think this is the same Franklin Foyer. Do you?

  • Franklin Foer

    I feel compelled to speak truthfully when I visit TOM.

  • Bob Belvedere

    Good point!

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  • K-Bob

    This reminds mo of how so very many people who think of themselves as “technology” people have a firm belief in social media as the way to find things out.

    People like that are continually surprised to discover that oilfield services workers and title abstractors and livestock handling equipment designers (to name only three jobs they probably have never heard of) all make more money than they do. And shockingly, they do it without having to use social media.

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