In The Economist fails the Turing Test again, the estimable Henry Farrell pokes at the Economist’s gormless and unpersuasive attack on François Hollande. Here’s part of Henry’s takedown:
I’ve no idea what Hollande is going to be like (except that he’s certainly going to be disappointing). But I do know that this is one of the most exquisitely refined examples of globollocks that I’ve ever seen. It’s as beautifully resistant to the intellect as an Andropov era Pravda editorial. A few more years of this and the Economist won’t have to have any human editing at all. Even today, I imagine that someone with middling coding skills could patch together a passable Economist-editorial generator with a few days work. Mix in names of countries and people scraped from the political stories sections of Google News, with frequent exhortations for “Reform,” “toughminded reform,” “market-led reform,” “painful reform,” “change,” “serious change,” “rupture,” and 12-15 sentences worth of automagically generated word-salad content, and you’d be there.
It’s gotten harder and harder to resubscribe to the Economist. I started having doubts back in 2004, they got worse in 2006. I thought maybe it had improved a bit in the past year, but this right-wing-relfex hatchet job on Hollande (in support of the economic and social barbarian Nicolas Sarkozy) may finally get me to drop the thing, even if they pass the Albania test. And I’ve been a subscriber continuously since the late 70s or early 80s, and was a regular reader even farther back than that.
But frankly, I don’t even read it regularly any more except for the special sections, the science coverage, and the book reviews.
PS. Don’t mistake me for a fan of Hollande. I’ve seen his puppet on Les Guignols de L’Info too often to ever be that.
I gave up on them whenever the sub ran out in 2002. I pick it up once in a while (my last workplace subsubscribed to it), and have thought that if they became a free weekly, it would be worth picking up for the good parts.
Sad. I used to really enjoy it. The intertubes haven’t replaced the sort of deep-dive surveys and actual understanding of places the Economist used to have. Maybe still do- the problem is, simply, that I don’t trust them anymore on topics that I don’t know much about, which was my reason for reading them in the first place.