[Yes, Desdemona is indulging in a little anticipatory schadenfreude.]
By Damon Linker
30 January 2014
(The Week) – National Review, founded by William F. Buckley Jr. in 1955, has had an enormous impact on the nation's politics. Its writers formulated the ideology that animated the quixotic Barry Goldwater campaign of 1964, and then Ronald Reagan's successful run for the White House in 1980. In the years since, National Review has often worked to keep Republican presidents focused on implementing its vision of conservatism, while bucking up the conservative troops when the movement has found itself out of power.
Today the magazine enjoys circulation roughly equivalent to that of The Nation, the American Left's leading journal of opinion, and more than twice that of William Kristol's The Weekly Standard, its primary competition on the Right.
And now, National Review may be fighting for its life.
Climate scientist Michael Mann is suing National Review and Mark Steyn, one of its leading writers, for defamation. It's a charge that's notoriously hard to prove, which is no doubt why the magazine initially refused to apologize for an item on its blog in which Steyn accused Mann of fraud. Steyn also quoted a line by another conservative writer (Rand Simberg) that called Mann "the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data." (Simberg and the free market think tank for which he works, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, are also named in the suit.)
The lawsuit has not been going well for the magazine. In July, Judge Natalia Combs Greene rejected a motion to dismiss the suit. The defendants appealed, and last week D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg rejected the motion again, opening the door for the discovery phase of the lawsuit to begin.
That's not all. On Christmas Eve , Steyn (who regularly guest hosts Rush Limbaugh's radio show) wrote a blog post in which he excoriated Greene, accusing her of incompetence, stupidity, and obtuseness. As a result of this outburst, the law firm that had been representing National Review and Steyn (Steptoe & Johnson) has dropped Steyn as a client and reportedly has plans to withdraw as counsel for the magazine as well. (Now representing himself in the lawsuit, non-lawyer Steyn continues on the attack here and here.)
[Update: National Review publisher Jack Fowler says that it was Mark Steyn who initiated the break with the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson, not the other way around.] [more]