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Andrew Sullivan has announced that he is giving up blogging to “return to the actual world again.” Given his history of presenting false stories and unrealistic political analysis this might be a good thing. Perhaps being in the actual world will yield some lessons.

It is hard to imagine that someone so in love with himself will ever give up promoting his take on things and Sullivan appears to say that he is not giving up writing altogether just the particular type associated with his blog The Daily Dish “I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me. I want to write a book.”

But in case this is his last hurrah it is worth noting his problematic career in journalism perhaps best encapsulated in a piece by Mark Ames over at Pando titled Andrew Sullivan is not the Future of Journalism. The piece is worth a full read and was written originally in 2013 which makes one part in particular even more interesting given some recent events.

By late 1991, the evidence of an October Surprise was so great that a Congressional committee was formed to investigate. That’s when 28-year-old Andrew Sullivan hired Steve Emerson — recently named one of America’s five most influential promoters of Islamophobic hate propaganda, cited twice by Anders Breivak in his manifesto — to “debunk” the reporting on the October Surprise with a cover story headlined “What October Surprise?” that relied on invented evidence later exposed as fake and disowned even by Emerson.

Despite the fact that Emerson’s hit piece was later exposed as based on fraud — or, as Emerson claimed, a mistake he blamed on his research assistant — nevertheless, Emerson’s hit-piece remained out on the market long enough to succeed in its goal of smearing one of the great journalism scoops of the past few decades, scaring away everyone from Congressmen to journalists from seriously pursuing it any further.

Steve Emerson made international headlines recently when he claimed on Fox News that Birmingham, England was a “no-go zone” for non-Muslims and that the city was under sharia law and 80% of the people there were Muslims – none of which is true. Emerson later apologized and blamed “sloppy research.” Same as it ever was.

Sullivan’s time at the The New Republic is best remembered for two highly controversial and later discredited stories. The promotion and legitimization of pseudo-scientific racism via publishing excerpts of The Bell Curve and a tobacco industry orchestrated take down of the Clinton Administration’s healthcare reform plan called “No Exit” which was later recanted. Sullivan still believes giving credibility to The Bell Curve was appropriate and a “subject worth exploring.”

But Sullivan is best known to the current generation of political observers for his manic support/disowning of the 2003 Iraq War. After the 9/11 attacks Sullivan slammed the “decadent left” for not getting fully on board the Bush train and warning they might become a “fifth column.” Yes, he really said that. And when Bush wanted to expand the thumpin’ to another country in the Middle East after Afghanistan Sullivan not only made the sign of the cross he started attacking dissenters again and celebrated Team Bush’s war planning saying “[T]he allied campaign was a model of restraint and liberation, the most precise invasion in world history. “

Of course, once events took a turn for the worst the sunshine patriot started having second thoughts eventually disowning the war and writing a piece in 2009 styled as a personal letter to President Bush which reversed many of Sullivan’s earlier positions. As I said, the man is truly in love with himself.

So now Sullivan is going to take some time to think before he writes and try to understand more about reality. Couldn’t hurt.

Photo by Trey Ratcliff under Creative Commons license.

Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.