Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you must have a penis

The 2007 year for The Nation was kicked off at the end of December with a January 1, 2007 issue. The cover pictured Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson. For reasons still unclear, except a possible deficiency that makes anything beyond the obvious impossible, the fifty-five-year-old, be speckled, John Denver-like mayor was depicted shirtless, sporting chest hair, flashing his manly pits at the readers, while both arms were thrown straight in the air and, did we mention, his hands were clad in boxing gloves.

For those who missed the obvious, Rocky Anderson was portrayed as Rocky because, after all, what's lefter than Sylvester Stallone? The Nation, intentionally or not, was telegraphing to one and all that they could "cowboy up" as well as any Bully Boy in the White House. Any who couldn't grasp the non-subtle point had only turn to page 25.

As Ava and C.I. noted in real time, and as Ruth noted this spring, that is where you would find a book 'review' by centrist Peter Bergen entitled "Waltzing With Warlords" which allegedly would address three books: Sarah Chayes' The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban; Ann Jones' Kabul In Winter: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan; and Rory Stewart's The Places in Between. Page wise, the smallest of three was the one written by Rory Stewart in . . . 2004. Reviewed for the January 2007 issue, a 2004 book. [An expanded version was published in May of 2006. Still far too old to qualify for a review in a January 2007 issue.] Why include a book that was three years old at this point? One of the many puzzling questions pertaining to males the magazine has consistently raised in the last six months.

Our guess is when you want to cook the book 'review' against women, you'll go to any lengths. Centrist and pig Bergen opens his alleged book review reflecting on the obvious image for a war-torn Afghanistan:

I open it and step into a world far removed from the dust-blown avenues of Kabul, where most women wear burqas and the vast majority of the population live in grinding poverty.
At one end of a long room is a well-stocked bar tended by a Chinese madam who assesses us with a practiced calculus. In front of her are more than a dozen scantily clad smiling young Chinese women sprawled over a series of bar stools and couches.

What does that have to do with the three books? Not a damn thing. But Bergen wants his jollies and apparently feels everyone needs to know that he visits bordellos. How proud his parents must be! His former classmates, probably not at all surprised.

Having set the (low-brow) tone, Bergen quickly rushes to explain not all women, apparently, know their place. No, apparently, some women reach beyond their 'natural' abilities such as Chayes and Jones, both of whom are too 'emotional' to write about Afghanistan.

Bergen finds Chayes "angry," "disillusioned," prone to "a smidge of self-congratulations" and not at all trust worthy (". . . we have to take Chayes's word for it"). Bergen finds Jones even more of the text book example of the female 'hysteria' noting that she fell for "trope," that she, too, is "angry" (we're guessing most women Bergen encounters are angry and that Bergen can find the reason for that just by looking in the mirror), that she suffers from a "tendency to see sinister conspiracies where they don't exist" (so irrational, those women), and much more!

The funnin' never stops for Bergen.

Then it's time to turn to the male writer and all the troubles with (women) writers go out the window as Bergen informs us of "Stewart's beautifully written book," offering "picaresque stories, of adventures on the road is a critical point that is often overlooked by Westerners with dreams of transforming Afghanistan into a place where women enjoy equal rights" (killjoys!), "skeptical" (as opposed to the "disillusioned" Chayes), "erudite" and so, so much more.

The book 'review' is nothing but a pig going Oink-Oink-Oink! For those who know no better, Sarah Chayes is a Harvard graduate and a professional reporter who left NPR to live in Afghanistan and work to improve conditions in that country. While she was doing that, Bill Moyers didn't find her 'emotional' and, in fact, had her on as a guest for a lengthy segment of what was then Now with Bill Moyers where she spoke with David Branccacio. Journalists, including Amy Goodman, have interviewed Chayes since she has written her book and we're aware of no on air meltdowns.

In fact, most feel Chayes, a professionally trained and respected journalist, is a reliable source for what she observed with her own eyes while in Afghanistan. To assist gas bag Bergen, what Chayes does is considered reporting. That may be confusing in a new world disorder where 'reporters' are encouraged to run with official statements and given them complete weight -- even when they contradict with the journalist's own observations. Who, what, where, when -- the journalism basics -- are what Chayes covers and Bergen can't handle that kind of reality (from a woman) so he has to point out that, in a first-hand recounting, we [gasp!] are dependent upon the author's observations.

Ann Jones has contributed to The Nation before and, we're sure, is quite aware that there is no more damning phrase from that magazine than being said to possess "a tendency to see conspiracy theories." That is The Nation's equivalent of "Your mother!"

Not only is Jones an author, she's also a journalist and photographer -- with a doctorate as opposed to Bergen's B.A. and, we're sure, the B.S. he's more than earned from years of gas baggery. As for her alleged conspiracy theories, Nation Books only bestsellers, both by Gore Vidal, also argue the (true) narrative that, in the 90s, a proposed pipeline in Afghanistan trumped all other concerns for the US government. That's not a controversial theory to anyone but pigs who 'reported' for commercial TV 'journalism' (which is where Bergen hails from -- the lowest of all forms of journalism). Those not late to the party (that would be feminists) were calling out Afghanistan in the 90s while paid lobbyists were presenting PG-friendly versions of the country to Americans. Jones knows what she's writing about. Gore Vidal knows what he's writing about. The only one lost, intentionally or not, is Peter Bergen. [The February 25, 2007 "The Nation Stats" notes that Jones weighed in with a letter and that Bergen elected to ignore the bulk of it.]

That a three page plus book 'review' trafficking in the worst forms of sexism raised no flags to those in charge of the magazine goes a long, long way towards explaining how readers ended up with the first six months of The Nation this year.

Backstory, in the summer of 2006, a group of women journalists (some established, some emerging) asked to meet with C.I. C.I. knew most of them, who were welcome to come by anytime, but they wanted a scheduled meeting. At that point, Jess, Ava and Ty were already living with C.I. and Dona and Jim were there as guests (they, too, would soon be live in guests).

Knowing several of the women who would be attending, Ava checked with the woman organizing the meeting to see if it would be okay to attend? It was more than okay and she was told she could invite anyone else.

The women wanted to lodge a formal complaint about The Nation which was ignoring women writers. Despite having a woman, Katrina vanden Heuvel, as editor and as a publisher, women were hearing tales of freelance pieces being dismissed quickly (and rudely) which had nothing to do with any journalism issue since the pieces would be picked up by other magazines. ("Snapped up," say Ava and C.I.) They'd been following it and they were tired of it. They wanted C.I. to track the issue at The Common Ills.

Jim, Dona and Ty came late to the meeting (Jess attended the full meeting) but were there for that and many other points. C.I.'s response was that The Common Ills focused on Iraq (at the request of members) and that, this far into 2006, it would require a great deal of work to go backwards at this point. (Despite that, C.I. wrote a column for Polly's Brew citing the 2006 statistics for women being published by The Nation.) But, C.I. offered, what if 2007 was charted? What if 2007 was charted and done so at The Third Estate Sunday Review? At which point Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava all readily agreed that they'd be happy to do that. With only full four months left in the 2006 year, the women agreed that was acceptable.

On December 24, 2006, in an edition steered by Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review began tracking the number of males printed versus the number of women printed. All knew it would not be pretty. None expected it to be as bad as it was.

For one thing, we assumed when the feature entitled "The Nation Stats" began regularly appearing, The Nation would quickly move to address the imbalance. By that point, it was not at all uncommon for people with The Nation to e-mail The Third Estate Sunday Review and C.I. knows several people with the magazine. This, we wrongly thought, would not require much coverage to prompt quick improvement. During the six month review period (which ended Sunday), seven people with the magazine e-mailed The Third Estate Sunday Review. The online magazine (Third) was not an unknown quantity to all at the magazine.

The Nation fancies itself as the leading magazine of the left. Therefore, it should have not required anyone to chart the sorry numbers of women published when contrasted with the overly 'healthy' number of males.

In the early months, we would often arrive at the 3.8 or 3.7 males published for every one female. That women had 'leaped' to the one woman for every 3.4 males with a byline by the time our six month study concluded may be seen as some 'improvement.' It may also be seen as shocking considering that during this time, The Third Estate Sunday Review heard from seven with the magazine over a six month period.

As bad as the ratio is, more shocking is the hard numbers. Over a six month period, the 'weekly' (some issues are 'double' issues -- whether they have twice as many pages or the same as a so-called regular issue) published 255 male bylines and 74 female ones. (We've exempted one byline for reasons cited in our coverage -- links offered at the end. Look it up. One article is not counted and only one. Addressing why here will take this feature in another direction about the problem with who gets selected as an intern.) We stopped the count (Sunday) with the last June issue. July issues have since published, but for women to achieve equal presence in the magazine, the first issue of July would have had to begin publishing women, and only women, 181 times.

That the leading magazine of the left could reach that point says a great deal. That this could take place when a woman held both the position of editor and publisher says a great deal.

We were shocked, for instance, when the February 12, 2007 issue managed to feature only one female byline-- Elizabeth Holtzman, whose opinions on impeachment were quickly called out -- in the same issue -- by a male. An unqualified male, one could argue, since Holtzman had experience with impeachment due to her work during Watergate and the male had . . . musty academic b.s. We were appalled when the April 16, 2007 issue appeared with 12 bylines and not one, not one, was a woman's.

In May, we began sharing this feature was coming, that the six month study would run on July 4th. [Following FAIR's example of six months studies.] We shared that online, we shared that with various organizations (all but one had asked, the one that didn't was told only that we were far more concerned with The Nation's record of publishing women than we were with anything having to do with any other organization or outlet), and C.I., Ava and Elaine had shared it with friends at the magazine. That was in May.

We began working on the write up two weeks ago. That write up got trashed completely despite the fact that we'd worked ahead of time so that all sites would be able to post something on July 4th without having to give up their holiday. The write up got trashed because despite this feature being announced in May, despite the fact that the feature "The Nation Stats" began running at The Third Estate Sunday Review on December 24, 2006, neither the magazine proper nor anyone connected with it elected to contact us about this feature.

That changed on Monday. Kind of, sort of.

In a pattern well known to any member doing a site, when someone has a problem with something, they run straight to C.I. They rush to tattle to C.I. The e-mail has 12:24 stamped on it and we'll assume that was noon PST (no time zone is given). It was one of 18,342 e-mails waiting to be read in the public account on Tuesday. Jess was working the public account and came across a "woops" e-mail from The Nation and then passed by several pages of e-mails (Yahoo displays 25 e-mail messages per page) to find the original and figure out what the "woops" was about. In that e-mail, the noon one, he found that The Nation was finally commenting on a feature (which runs at The Third Estate Sunday Review, not The Common Ills) that began on December 24, 2006.

Jess was thirty minutes into a reply when Ava asked what he was so focused on. When she saw the e-mail, she said, "No way in hell does a man who wants to lecture C.I. and I on what women should do get a personal reply." A reply will go up at The Third Estate Sunday Review

this weekend. The e-mail was meant to be "shared" ("pass on" was the term used) so it was shared with all participating in the writing of it. Whether the name was meant to be shared or not, we don't know. So we will leave him unnamed but, let's be clear, if a man with the magazine thinks he can lecture women on what they should do, we'd argue that goes a long way towards explaining some of the problems that allows 181 more males to be printed in a six month period than women.

We will not claim credit for the news that the issue of women is (finally) being addressed. (More on that in a minute.) We spent six months tracking it. We cannot make changes at the magazine. The magazine deserves credit for seeing the problem and addressing it (however late). By the same token, we will not take the blame for the number of women the magazine has run and find it laughable that a magazine which regularly boasts of its huge circulation numbers wants to attempt to pin the blame for their own failures on us.

The Nation advises, "On the subject of women and the magazine; you should also know that the magazine is more than aware of the imbalance, and has taken steps in the last several months to recruit and bring in more women writers. Between now and the Fall there are six new writers being added to our blogs, as well as new staff added to the editorial ranks."

Let's be clear, because we ran the above by the woman who organized the meeting last summer, that is largely nothing. Awareness may, in and of itself, be a good thing. But writers of print pieces receive more money than writers of 'online exclusives.' More to the point, our six month study focused solely on the print edition of the magazine. We did that for a number of reasons (including, we were warned ahead of time, the website's tendency to make things that didn't turn out so good disappear -- as we all saw when a post on "American Idol" -- written while Congress was voting on the supplemental -- disappeared after, days later, Cindy Sheehan rightly called out adults who would rather focus on American Idol than the illegal war). But it has been clear even to the most dense that we were addressing the print edition. Nothing in The Nation's response above addressed the print edition.

"Blogs" are not print. Editorial staff doesn't mean more bylines for women. Nothing that is offered addresses the imbalance in print. The Nation goes on to inform us that, "Its worth noting, I think, the extent to which women ARE the leadership of the magazine -- from the editorial side (print, web, and almost all of our senior and executive editors) to the business side (President and the heads of advertising and fundraising) -- but there is an ongoing effort to bring in more women in to the magazine and the website."

More women are in leadership? Our generic response to that is to quote from Ava and C.I.'s "TV Review: Commander-in-Chief aka The Nah-Nah Sisterhood" (The Third Estate Sunday Review, November 20, 2005):

What really frightens us, besides the fact that a backlash only takes root when people who should know better applaud this junk, is an elitist attitude that seems to greet this show."We got our woman president!"

Consider us too grass-rooty but we don't see that as an end all be all. We weren't among the ones saying "At least we still got Martin Sheen on TV" so maybe we're missing it. But honestly, we'll take an Alice over a Commander-in-Chief. Give us working class women who pull together over a queen bee living a rarified life.

We've never doubted that a woman could be president (and at some point will be). But we've never assumed that gender would be an answer. A woman who supports equality? Absolutely, that's a great thing. A woman who makes her way as an exception, backs up an agenda she doesn't believe in and does nothing to help other women? We don't see the point in applauding that.

It's a pertinent issue as two women are repeatedly named as potential candidates in the real world: Condi Rice and Hillary Clinton. If either woman (or both) runs, will we get the same giddy "It's a woman!" nonsense? Under no circumstance would either of us vote for Rice. We'd be reluctant to vote for Clinton considering her waffles on the issue of choice and her stance on the war. But will those issues be silenced in the giddy cry of, "It's a woman! It's a first!"

That's troubling.

Again, that is our generic response. Our specific response?

Is Katrina vanden Heuvel the editor and publisher or not? This is a point that's a bit hard for the e-mailer to grasp. (As evidenced as his attempts to slam our work.) The masthead says she is the editor and publisher. When she goes on TV, she is billed as the editor and publisher of The Nation. If she is indeed editor and publisher (yes, we know she is) then she bears the ultimate responsibility for what does and does not get printed. To repeat, our focus has been the print edition. What women do or do not do online has not been the scope of our study. We have never claimed it was. We have noted, in each "The Nation Stats," which issue or issues we were covering in that feature.

We will note this from The Nation, "I did want you to know as well that our July 12th issue is a double issue devoted entirely to Iraq. Two writers have completed a piece that is by far the largest collection of soldiers on the record about their experiences in Iraq done by any publication. It clearly depicts, we think, the horror of the war in Iraq, the illegality, and the extent to which soldiers were sent in unprepared and ill-equipped, and the toll that's taken. I would patently disagree that we have 'refused to cover Iraq as an ongoing illegal war,' and if I had the time for the research project I would quote piece after piece, on print and online, to make the point. The work of Jeremy Scahill, Joshua Kors and our lead edit from November of 05 come to mind as starting points. Regardless, I respect your opinion and wanted you to know that we do have a double issue coming out given over almost entirely to the war."

We are glad to know that an issue finally is devoted to Iraq. We do not claim credit for that although C.I. has led at The Common Ills (see "2006: The Year of Living Dumbly" for the first really hard hitting piece by C.I. and that issue has been addressed at The Common Ills regularly since). We're not really sure why the magazine feels the need to tell us that we are wrong (apparently patently) while also noting that there's no "time for the research project" which would prove us wrong?

We do not doubt that the magazine feels it has covered the illegal war seriously. We also do not doubt that they thought they were presenting women in equal numbers to men until we pointed the obvious culminating with the magazine running 181 more male bylines than female ones. Is it too much to point out the obvious? That the bylines mentioned in the quote above are male bylines? As Laura Flanders has rightly noted, women are being sidelined on the discussion of the illegal war in the media -- all media.

Again, the magazine wants to bring up what was online. We have repeatedly and clearly stated that we are covering the print edition in "The Nation Stats" and all sites (with C.I. leading) noting the Iraq coverage have regularly noted the difference between "online exclusives" and what makes it into print. We'll respond in full to that and other comments on Sunday.

We reject any claims of credit for any changes The Nation is discussing, addressing or considering. We also reject any blame for what the magazine has elected to print. We believe either credits us with more power than we have which is not us rejecting claims of our own power. Each of us has the power to be agents of change within our own lives. However, not being on staff at The Nation, we will not hog credit for needed changes that are (hopefully) now going to be made and we reject any blame for what has appeared in the magazine's print version.

We would further add that when the magazine wants to charge that writing at The Third Estate Sunday Review is "riddled with errors and inaccuracies," it's incumbent upon them to name them and not make baseless charges. Are there typos? There are. Are there factual errors? We're not aware of any and we're not really sure that, if there were, The Nation is any place to lecture on that topic having repeatedly refused to correct errors that made it into print. We'll provide at least one example of that (we've noted many at The Third Estate Sunday Review) on Sunday. Our numbers were not questioned so we'll assume The Nation has accepted those.

We have noted frequently that if our math is off, please e-mail. We have never received any e-mail about the numbers. On Sunday, we thought we were done when C.I. insisted that our number for the ratio had to be wrong. We redid it and it was. We corrected before it went up.

Since our numbers may have been the only thing not challenged in the e-mail (our character appears to have been challenged, Ava and C.I.'s feminist status appears to have been questioned, etc.) we'll assume they are correct and note that anyone can check them out for themselves using the links posted at the end of this feature.

The Third Estate Sunday Review is composed of six people: Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I. C.I. has worked on every edition (only C.I. and Ava can make that claim). When the site started, the reason it started, was C.I. was speaking on an East Coast campus, Jim realized it was "C.I." and, after the talk (on Iraq, of course), approached C.I. and said, "You are C.I. of The Common Ills." Jim, Dona, Ty and Jess had spoken of doing a site. Ava rightly notes that she wasn't a planned participant. She was Dona's roommate and Dona brought her along. It is also true that, when Dona asked, everyone was for it. (Jess especially, he and Ava are now a couple.) Though C.I. helped on every edition (some pieces had no involvement from C.I. during those weeks), C.I. refused to be billed as part of The Third Estate Sunday Review noting, "It's your site." Over a year later, C.I. finally agreed. The writing is a group process with one exception.

Ava and C.I. do the TV commentaries. That is ironic since neither even thought we should do a TV piece in the very first edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review. During that first month, Ava and C.I.'s contributions to the TV reviews were what readers responded to. The e-mails would note a sentence or a paragraph and how much they agreed with it or how they'd never thought about it from that angle. ("Or complain," Ava and C.I. note.) Their jokes were always mentioned as well. Jim will admit he was the last to grasp what they were doing (a feminist take on TV -- "a," not "the"). By February 2005, even Jim grasped it and the TV commentaries were turned over to Ava and C.I.

They were not orginally credited for them, in February 2005, because we were doing group writing, believe in it, and they did not want the credit. The credit only went up when the others got tired of explaining, after being congratulated in e-mails or face to face by friends, parents or professors, that Ava and C.I. wrote those pieces. No one is prouder of the work Ava and C.I. do than are Jim, Dona, Ty and Jess. The TV commentaries are the calling card for The Third Estate Sunday Review. (Ava and C.I. are both groaning but we're putting this in.)

They are always the most popular feature any week. They have been linked to (when little else we've done ever has), they have been run in student and feminist papers, they have been run in three feminist publications by college women. On the latter, if any feminist organization thinks they can raise funds or merely pad out a collection with one of their TV reviews, Ava and C.I. have been all for it. In May, they did a commentary that got far too much attention for their comfort level. With the exception of a friend with PBS who phoned shortly after the piece went up [and a note was added to the commentary on that call], the response was all positive. It was also overwhelming for them (as Dona noted the first Friday of June in the gina & krista round-robin). They do not want to hear about the e-mails on their reviews. (Unless it's negative and then it's no problem with them.) With the May commentary, even shielding them from the e-mails wasn't enough because friends (close and distant) were calling them to sing the praises of that commentary.

They have repeatedly turned down interviews since requests first began coming in for those in the spring of 2005. That wasn't something Jim got because a write up somewhere would bring attention to the site. (It also took months of Dona pointing out to Jim that his encouraging praise -- "lavish," says Ava -- offered before Ava and C.I. were about to start work on that week's commentary was too much, raised the bar of expectations too high and freaked them out.) They have offered shorter commentaries since the overwhelming response in May. They will be returning to their epic commentaries shortly. (A review of a drama planned for this month will be their return.) But we say all of that to note that they are not attention seekers, they do need or want flattery and they try to keep their heads down and do the work required.

We value what they do, whether it's an in depth look or something they complete in 15 minutes.

We say all that to note that we will never let stand some man questioning their feminist credentials.

When the man represents a magazine that has published 181 more males than women in a six month period you damn well better believe we won't let it stand or any 'suggestions' of what women should or should not say or should or should not write. Ruth was the most adament that this be included. As an over-sixty-years-old woman there at the start of the second wave of feminism in this country, she said there is no way she can tolerate silence with regard to that nonsense of "a man whose shown no known interest in gender equality suddenly rushing in to question two feminist's commitment." We will go into more detail on that Sunday. For now, we will note that no woman needs a lecture from any man about what women should do nor do they deserve to have their feminist qualifications questioned by anyone at a magazine that allows 181 more men than women to be published in a six month period.

Some at The Nation may enjoy writing The Common Ills because, if Ava reads it and it's a whine, she'll rip the whiner apart. Far be it from us to deny anyone their pleasure, even if it's masochism. But this e-mail was directed to C.I. and we are all sick of that.

"Allow me to introduce myself, I'm another person in the room."
-- Rhoda (Valerie Harper) speaking to Mary's (Mary Tyler Moore) date in "Today I Am A Ma'Am," written by Treva Silverman, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, episode two, first aired September 26, 1970.

Like Rhoda, we're all a little sick of it and for a number of reasons.

In addition to the public account there are two main accounts for members and there are also backup acocunts. The Common Ills gets more mail than any other site which is why Martha, Shirley, Eli, Ava and Jess help C.I. with the e-mails. Every site that sprung up, or Ruth's Report, did so because of The Common Ills. Before any other site started, we were all members of The Common Ills community and still are. As such, we are as sick as other members of people running to C.I. about something that's been written elsewhere. It strikes us as tattling and a "woops" doesn't change that. If people are doing that thinking it provides cover (due to C.I.'s policy on e-mails), it should be clear that, from now on, there is no cover when you run to C.I. to complain about the rest of us. In this case, the points were supposed to be "passed on." It doesn't matter whether they're supposed to be passed on or not from now on. If you run to C.I. to complain about us (as happens repeatedly), your e-mail is not about The Common Ills and you have no guarantee of privacy.

Redoing this already written feature meant that everyone had to give up their holiday time on what was a planned 'easy' day. [It also means Kat did not have the time to complete her review of Mavis Staples' latest CD. The plan for that is now to go up no later than Sunday morning.] Unlike The Nation, no one doing a site is paid for it. We run no ads, we beg for no money.

Stealing from the Mamas and the Papas, our approach has always been to be professional without being "professionals" (a subtly lost on some). All of us have busy lives. This isn't employment for any of us. We do it because we feel it needs to be done and because we enjoy it. We don't need to hear from those who refuse to take Iraq seriously and we will not put our own private lives on hold ever again.

In addition to announcing this piece publicly some time ago, we also noted a Labor Day piece. Let's be clear, only one thing will change the Labor Day piece from running. A last minute e-mail from The Nation will not change the Labor Day piece. We will be disclosing something that should have already been addressed in The Nation at length. If anyone wants that piece killed, they can address it (at The Nation) between now and the week before Labor Day. A last minute e-mail will not kill our piece or cause it to be rewritten. Only it running in the print edition of The Nation will. An e-mail saying, "It'll be out two weeks after Labor Day" will not result in us killing our piece or even rewriting it. Comments will not be added to it from a last minute e-mail. We will be using Labor Day for down time. If professional journalists are bothered by the feature (we're not sure they know what the scope is, we've attempted to keep that piece much more on the down low than this one), they have it in their power to pre-empt it only by addressing it themselves.

On what should have been a relaxed Fourth of July for us, we have instead had to do a conference call Tuesday evening about the e-mail and then spend six hours plus writing and debating this piece. If The Nation feels their e-mail hasn't been treated fairly, we don't feel it was fair to do the equivalent of a Friday government news dump on us at the last minute.

This feature was announced in May. "The Nation Stats" began running December 24, 2006. Writing us two days before the feature ran (correction, writing C.I.) appears to us to be nothing more than an end run around our announced and planned feature. To repeat, 7 with The Nation have written The Third Estate Sunday Review during the period that "The Nation Stats" has been running. No one ever raised any issues about that feature.

There is no legitimate claim that The Nation was unaware of the feature. The e-mail mentions not only C.I.'s "And the war drags on . . ." from last Thursday, it also appears to note the week before. In addition, both weeks, The Nation's attempted fundraiser (for rising print costs) were noted at The Common Ills only because The Nation e-mailed the public account. All of that (and more) goes to the fact that the both The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review are known quantities to The Nation by people other than friends of C.I., Elaine or Ava. In addition, Cedric heard last month from The Nation. And, of course, the Cindy Brady of the faux left long ago tried to both correct Elaine and share the new swear word he'd just learned. (Ava and Jess note that others with the magazine, not friends of any involved in the writing of this piece, have written The Common Ills -- with the coffee fetchers showing up in strong numbers beginning in January.)

That alone makes us question the sincerity of an e-mail that starts off so nice. By the time the e-mail begins asserting that The Third Estate Sunday Review's features and/or editorials are "riddled with errors and inaccuracies," we don't see it as a friendly e-mail. We'll assume the man needs time to 'research' that claim. In the meantime, we'll note we stand by what we have written. If there's an error (not surprising considering how much we write and how late we write it), we'll be happy to note it. We will not be noting that someone disagrees with a joke or an opinion. Those are not errors nor are they inaccuracies. In addition, C.I. gets called each Thursday about what's just gone into the new print edition of The Nation. C.I. also gets plenty of office gossip. If the man wants to challenge anything like that, feel free to do so. If it was conveyed by a friend at the magazine to C.I., we will note that.

But we will not ever again drop anything we have planned because someone shows up late to the party. And, again, we will be responding to the most offensive charge this Sunday as well as other points in the e-mail. If you make a charge such as "riddled with errors and inaccuracies," you need to back it up. We will note that, with few exceptions, none of our words of praise for The Nation has ever resulted in a thank you e-mail. Bad manners began showing up in large numbers in the summer of 2006. If they're suddenly desiring to become our e-mail buddies, a tip, charging that writing is "riddled with errors and inaccuracies" doesn't get anyone added to an I.M. buddy list.

Not only is no proof offered of that assertion, to make it one would presumably have to be very aware of our work. As C.I. has often said, "Well it's nice to be read."

We'll end as we began, with Pig Bergen. Ann Jones saw what was wrong with that article and publicly responded. A question worth asking is why no one at the magazine did? A better question worth asking is why Pig Bergen serves not only to announce the sexism that will be on display for the first six months of 2007 but also the slow creep of centrists into the magazine. The 'leading magazine of the left' should not attempt to present itself as such when it repeatedly runs centrists. The center is not the left, it is not even the faux left. For the record, Pig Bergen is, as noted by the magazine, a "senior fellow at the New America Foundation". The magazine fails to alert readers that the New American Foundation is a centrist organization.

We recently (and rightly) noted "Let Laura Be Laura" and we would also add Let The Left Be The Left. That will not result from The Nation's current fondness for centrists. There are plenty of left writers around who can and should be featured. The board of Bergen's organization includes such 'notables' as Fareed Zakaria, the safety czar Christy Todd Whitman and the charm free Francis Fukuyama. At a time when The Nation wants readers to be concerned with reclaiming the Democratic Party, it's rather appalling that they also feel featuring centrists is what a left magazine does. (Not everyone with the magazine endorses the slow creep of the centrists which is how we first learned of it. "Slow Creep of the Centrist" is actually a phrase said to us by a writer for the magazine face to face.)

Ava and C.I. were in charge of the December 24, 2006 edition and that was the first week that a 2007 issue had arrived (January 1, 2007 issue). They immediately started up "The Nation Stats." "The Nation Stats" ran again in our December 31st edition (covering the magazine's January 8, 2007 issue -- a "double issue"). January 21st, we covered the January 22nd issue in "The Nation Stats." January 28th, "The Nation Stats" covered two issues since two arrived the same day for three of us participating in this feature. February 4th, we covered the Feb 12th issue in "The Nation Stats." February 11th we covered the February 19th issue in "The Nation Stats." February 25th, we coved the February 26th issue in "The Nation Stats." March 4th we covered the March 5th and March 12th issues of the magazine in "The Nation Stats." March 11th, we covered the March 19th issue in "The Nation Stats." April 1st, we covered the March 26th and April 2nd issues in "The Nation Stats." April 8th, we covered the April 9th and April 6th issues in "The Nation Stats." April 22nd, we covered the April 32rd and April 30 issues in"The Nation Stats." April 29th, "The Nation Stats" addressed the May 7th issue. May 20th, "The Nation Stats" covered four issues -- May 14th, May 21st, May 28th and June 4th. June 10th, "The Nation Stats" covered the June 11th and June 18th issue. On July 1st, we concluded a six month study of the number of male bylines versus female bylines in "The Nation Stats." All "The Nation Stats" with links should take you to the feature in question. Check our math. Check our figures. Non-subscribers can go to The Nation magazine, click on "past issues" and fact check us themselves. We think checking first is incumbent before making charges of errors.

-- The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,

Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,

Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,

C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,

Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),

Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,

Ruth of "Ruth's Report"

Trina of Trina's Kitchen

Mike of Mikey Likes It!,

Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,

and Wally of The Daily Jot