The Other McCain

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

Slaves of the Progressive Cause

Posted on | December 2, 2013 | 43 Comments

Liberals are stupid. We know this. Samuel Johnson knew this, too:

“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”

If you’re smart, you can figure out how to get paid to write. If you’re stupid, you’ll be a liberal journalism intern like Charles Davis:

I was 21 years old when I took out my earring, combed my hair, and tried concealing my distaste for power and Washington, DC, in order to ask questions at press conferences. It was the summer of 2006, and I had just left college to work for a small, do-gooding nonprofit that covered Capitol Hill for public radio. . . .
What I did looked and felt like an entry-level job in the media. And I enjoyed it—I liked going up to any old white guy in a suit and asking him to explain in his own words why he’s destroying the country. I felt as if I had sort of made it, as much as an English major can. I wasn’t living at home, I got to carry a microphone, and my work was broadcast over the radio. To an outsider looking in, I almost looked like a respectable person.
The problem was I wasn’t being compensated for any of that work or my veneer of respectability. What I did every day might have appeared to be a job, but I was labeled an “intern,” meaning I got paid in experience and networking opportunities, not anything tangible. I made rent by taking a part-time job serving mediocre Mexican food across from the National Press Club . . . Periodic calls to Mommy and Daddy also helped. That was what was expected of me — I’m part of a generation conditioned to believe that if you just work for free hard enough and long enough, you can become president some day.
I was fortunate, all things considered. My labor was being exploited by a boss who took in $100,000 a year, but I was privileged enough that I could afford the exploitation for a few months, sort of. I had parents who could kick me some cash every now and then with only moderate-to-severe grief. And it hadn’t yet hit me that I had to pay back all those student loans.

Charles Davis — who now describes himself as “a writer and producer in Los Angeles” — may no longer write for free, but he is still a liberal, which means he is still stupid enough to think that the people who get paid to do what he did for free actually believe in the “idealistic” egalitarian goals that they espouse:

Paying people little to nothing because you can — a practice aided by the awfulness of the job market and the desperation of people trying to make it in “glamour” industries like journalism — is both exploitive and discriminatory, but many good liberals do not appear to recognize it as such, even as they decry that behavior elsewhere. . . .

(Uh, journalism is a “glamour” industry? Says who?)

Robert Reich served as labor secretary under Bill Clinton and is outspoken in his support for a living wage. . . .
His political advocacy group, Common Cause, is only one of the organizations he has a hand in that relies on free or near-free labor. In a recent listing, The American Prospect, a magazine founded by Reich and other veterans of the Clinton administration, announced it was looking for editorial interns to assist “with fact-checking and research.” The interns will be “encouraged to contribute editorially and participate in meetings in addition to pursuing their own projects.”
Sounds good, but, “This is a full-time internship and comes with a $100 weekly stipend,” according to the listing. That comes to about $2.50 an hour, or “not nothing” if you are a glass-half-full type. . . .

(Show of hands: Who would want to work for an organization founded by Robert Reich “and other veterans of the Clinton administration” at any price? Oh, look — nobody with a lick of sense raised their hand. Guess that’s why morons do it for free.)

The fellowship offered by Mother Jones is neither an internship nor an entry-level job . . . but the compensation could fool you: “Fellows receive a $1,000 monthly stipend.” Assuming a 40-hour workweek (many journalists work much longer hours than that), that means a fellow at Mother Jones earns less than $6 an hour in a state, California, that just decided to raise the minimum wage to $10. In San Francisco, where the magazine is based, $1,000 a month isn’t enough to pay for both food and shelter. . . .
After six months . . . a fellowship at Mother Jones can be extended the rest of the year at a rate of $1,400 a month. . . .
[T]he names at the top of the masthead are very comfortable. Editors Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery each make more than $167,000 a year, while chief operating officer Madeleine Buckingham makes $159,000.

(So the top three names on the masthead divvy up $493,000 between them. Multiply $1,400 a month times 12 and the annual salary of a Mother Jones “fellow” is $16,800, so that the combined salary of the top three Mother Jones honchos is equivalent to the annual salaries of 29.3 “fellows.” Nice work, if you can get it.)

But at the liberal online news magazine Salon, internships are not for those just starting out.
“Some professional experience is required,” says a listing for an editorial internship at Salon. If you get that job, you’ll be helping “research, report, write and produce our news and culture coverage,” which sounds a lot like a job. The position, based in New York City, is unpaid.
Though it does not pay its professionally experienced interns a dime, Salon (which has published my work in the past) has had the chutzpah to run a number of stories on the plight of unpaid workers, such as, “‘Intern Nation’: Are We Exploiting a Generation of Workers?” and “Unpaid and Sexually Harassed: The Latest Intern Injustice.” The company did not respond to a request for comment.

(The saddest part about this? Although it doesn’t pay its interns a red cent, Salon has still managed to lose millions of dollars a year, every year, since the days of 56K-baud dial-up modems. But, hey, stupid liberals get the “glamour” of working for nothing at a money-losing lefty blog whose star writer is Joan Walsh, so there’s that.)

The New Republic is another liberal outlet with a problematic labor record. Owned by a co-founder of Facebook worth more than $600 million, the magazine is currently hiring interns . . . Previous experience in journalism is “preferred, but not imperative.”
TNR used to advertise that its internships “are full-time, unpaid, and based in the DC office,” but that language was removed soon after the magazine became aware of this story. . . .

(Dishonest liberals trying to hide the truth? I’m shocked!)

TNR has the money to pay interns but doesn’t, likely because there is an established culture in the media world that treats working for free as the cost of admission. And when everyone else is doing it, why not? And so Harper’s is looking for interns to “work on a full-time, unpaid basis for three to five months” . . . and the Washington Monthly, which claims to be “thriving” thanks to “generous long-term support from foundations and donors,” is offering internships that are “unpaid and can be either part-time or full-time.” . . .

(And now, ladies and gentlemen, the call to action.)

So here’s a challenge to the liberal media: If you are in favor of a living wage and oppose discrimination against the poor, let’s see that reflected in your newsrooms, not just on your blogs. . . .It also just sets a bad example. If the bleeding hearts aren’t ashamed enough to pay their workers, why should anyone?

Charles, I’d like to give you some advice on how to stop being a complete chump, but the “About” page on your blog doesn’t list an e-mail address or a Twitter account. And so if somebody actually wanted to hire you, how would they get in touch with you? (Don’t worry, I just looked you up on Twitter.)

Also, there is no commercial nexus on your blog — no ads, no PayPal, no Amazon — and thus no way for you to make money from what you publish yourself, so that you are in effect paying yourself nothing for your own work, as if it were entirely worthless.

By contrast, as a shameless capitalist blogger, I’m going to suggest readers shop for fabulous savings at Amazon (from which I receive a small commission) and also include a PayPal “donate” button, so readers can pay me for the pleasure of mocking your stupidity.


This lesson will perhaps be more valuable to you, Charles Davis, than anything you learned via your internships. You’re welcome.


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  • Quartermaster

    Bleeding hearts know no shame. Never did, never will.

  • Patriot

    I suspect part of the reason for the unpaid interns for “journalism” is that most of the applicants are privileged, have successful parents that pay for most everything, and who believe “being cool” or hip or making a statement against something is more important than making a profit.

    Thus they accept these internships because they don’t understand their worth, or how their labor could/should be compensated.

    The really sad thing is that when the Salon’s of the world start paying “interns” a “living wage,” magically there will be no more entry level jobs at Salon. Minimum wages increase unemployment. Why would it be any different at Salon?

  • Rigel Kent

    Maybe I’m a blockhead since technically I don’t get paid for the writing I do on my blog, but I have a Paypal button, Amazon banner and context links and Google Adsense, so it’s possible I’ll get paid. So at least I’m a block head that’s trying, what’s this guy’s excuse?

    (Oh and if you’d like to check out my blog here’s a link: It’s a shameless plug I know, but I’m just following our hosts example.)

  • slp

    Has Charles made a donation to the shoe leather fund for your wise advice?

  • Earl Scruggs

    Perhaps Charles never heard the saying, “why buy the cow when you are getting the milk for free?”

  • robertstacymccain

    Certainly I cannot object to shameless self-promotion. The point: Even if Charles Davis wrote something on his blog that got a zillion hits, he wouldn’t earn a cent from it.

    In what universe does that make sense?

  • La Pucelle

    It gets even better. Zombie reports that some hipsters are going so far as to work on organic farms for nothing more than room and board:

    The richest part about this in my opinion is that these hipster workers are taking away paying jobs from “undocumented workers” to help the big corporations they claim to hate so much.

  • Rigel Kent

    Not mine. I’ve never really gotten some people’s attitudes about money. Is it the most important thing? Of course not, but if you think it’s not important at all, you’re a fool.

    As I was reading in the excerpts where he described the different internships, I kept asking myself: Who would take that “job”?

    Those outlets may or not be in the wrong to offer unpaid internships, but if you choose to take them how is it anybody else’s fault but your own?

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  • Steve White

    A smart Republican (I know, I know) could exploit this by introducing, on the floor of the House, the “Fair Pay Act for Media Interns”, which would mandate that all internships offered by any media corporation — all of them — must be paid at (at least) the minimum wage.

    And since ObamaCare is here, mandate also that the interns get paid health care coverage.

    Then see if the Dummycrats argue against it. That would be worth hours of fun on C-SPAN.

  • John Farrier

    I’ve sometimes written without getting paid money just in order to list a publication on my resume. But I’m always looking for my own personal benefit. I’ve also done an unpaid internship. But, again, I’m looking for what advantage I can get out of my labor–not how I can serve some noble cause.

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  • Rigel Kent

    That make sense to me. And may I say, your avatar is both awesome and appropriate to the discussion at hand.

  • John Farrier

    Thank you!

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Truth is $167K would not get you very far in San Francisco, unless you already have a place to live and established. It is that expensive there (more so than even NYC).

    But Mother Jones is a joke. If it were serious, it would have moved to Oakland long ago. But being Progressive is one thing, living in Oakland…(well they aren’t that nutty).

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  • DaTechGuy on DaRadio

    Stacy I guess I was a fool consulting you to establish a fair price per word for my Magnificent Seven Writers.

    I should have consulted these liberals and had twice the staff and three times the pieces for no cost!

  • ThomasD

    Nicely written.

    A veritable Litany of Loserdom.

  • Wombat_socho

    Which also applies in other areas of life, IYKWIMAITYD.

  • Wombat_socho

    Yes, but then you would have had the Odd Squad instead of the Magnificent Seven. You get what you pay for.

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  • richard mcenroe

    For ideologues who scorn the free-market system, lefty mags have a surprising accurate view of the worth of their employees’ labor.

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