From Ron Unz of The Unz Review:
… I’m extremely pleased—indeed totally stunned!—to announce that our Alexa Traffic Rank has now pulled significantly ahead of both The New Republic and The Nation. Even two years ago, both those prominent publications had three times our ranking, and a year ago were still ahead by nearly a factor of two. But if the current Alexa figures are to be believed, we are now roughly 15% ahead of TNR and 35% above The Nation, with these trends reflecting both our rise and their decline in roughly equal measures. We have also pulled within 15% of Foreign Policy.
The New Republic (founded 1914) and The Nation (founded 1865) are valuable brand names. I haven’t heard much about both lately, but back in The Nation’s heyday during the Iraq War, I was very impressed with the amount of advertising it ran in its paper magazine. Each edition a dozen years ago was stuffed with ads for highly respectable brands purchased by upper middle class professionals.
In contrast, conservative paper magazines always had trouble getting quality advertisers, like, say, Bose. I don’t recall Bose specifically, but I’m just using that as an example of the kind of brand name advertiser who was much more likely to advertise a $500 clock radio in The Nation than in The American Conservative, despite both magazines being high-browish journals opposed to the Iraq War.
This was long before the Great Awokening, by the way, so Cancel Culture has been around a long time. One difference was that back then it just existed as a sort of smog, a fear that if you stepped over the line and bought an ad in a magazine that ran movie reviews by Steve Sailer, something bad would happen to your brand. But now there are many more examples of hanging admirals to encourage the others that, yes, bad things do happen to sinners.
The switch to the Internet has probably been bad for left of center magazines since paper is a better advertising medium than screen, for reasons that the Best Minds of Our Generation haven’t been able to fix.
So I went and looked up what’s on TheNation.com and NewRepublic.com these days. Both websites look nice. I recognize the names of a few oldtimers on The Nation, but I didn’t recognize the names of any contributors to TNR.
TNR’s recent history seems like a good example of The Circular Firing Squad aspect of left-of-center coalitions.
I did enjoy this article currently on TNR:
The conservative commentariat’s love affair with nootropics
By RICHARD COOKE
September 3, 2019
On my desk sit four containers of brain pills. Though they are made by four separate companies, they are similar enough in appearance and content to be almost interchangeable. The ingredients mention green tea extract and bacopa, B vitamins and black pepper extract. The names of the formulae—Alpha Brain, Gorilla Mind Smooth, Brain Force Plus, Dawn to Dusk—are displayed in clean, futuristic fonts. Three of the bottles are tinted the tone of limousine windows. All sport the cartoon iconography that signifies increased brainpower: firing synapses, lightning bolts, glowing bulbs. The pills’ most important similarity, however, is not represented on the labeling: Each can boast the endorsement of a prominent right-of-center media commentator.
Onnit Alpha Brain claims to support “memory and focus,” and when the podcaster and comedian Joe Rogan began taking it daily, he insisted that his ability to form sentences “seemed smoother.” The best-named pill, Gorilla Mind Smooth, was formulated by the alt-lite author Mike Cernovich (with the help of researchers). Its capsules are half-red and half-black, and when Cernovich first took a prototype version, he tweeted that he could feel neurons regrowing in his sleep. Brain Force Plus is a best-seller on the Infowars Store, where it helps fund Alex Jones’s war for your mind. Ben Shapiro endorses Dawn to Dusk, distributed by BrickHouse Nutrition. Unlike the others, this supplement is moderately caffeinated, and, whether by design or accident, its effects seem to encourage Shapiro’s rapid-fire, small-caliber mode of speaking.
These substances are variously called nootropics, neurotropics, or nutraceuticals, none of which are very accurate names. Nootropics, the term used most frequently, literally means “mind-bending,” but the products are intended to heighten focus rather than cause a psychedelic reorientation of perception. The medical community is skeptical of nootropics, and discourages their use. In most studies, the pills tend to do no better than a placebo. …
Considering the aggressive marketing and questionable efficacy of these substances, it is easy to group them with other dubious products promoted by conservative media: reverse mortgages, gold bullion, drug-free arthritis relief, secret stock-market strategies. …
I took the pills for three weeks altogether, alternating brands, and the average result was comparable to an espresso, with a little more sustain.
And the article goes on to make a number of erudite points on brain performance-enhancing drugs and their appeal to the Right:
The work of Ayn Rand bears the residue of amphetamines thickest. Both Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead appeared at peaks in a 30-year Benzedrine habit, and Rand’s paranoid prolixity shows its chemical origins. Though the prolific novelist’s writing is often maligned, she peerlessly—if unintentionally—renders the feeling of being on uppers. In Atlas Shrugged, when Dagny Taggart looks up at a skyscraper, “her consciousness surrendered to a single sight and a single, wordless emotion—but she had always known that an emotion was a sum totaled by an adding machine of the mind, and what she now felt was the instantaneous total of the thoughts she did not have to name.”
But I didn’t see any mention of the most obvious reason why rightist pundits tend to have dodgy sponsors like these: they’d no doubt really prefer to be doing ads for Ford F-150s and the like, but Corporate America is very wary of sponsoring conservative commentators.