World's smartest newspaper profiles top Nazi!


Low-IQ porridge results:
What happens when the nation's smartest newspaper profiles a high-ranking Nazi?

Answer: We get to see that the work of the New York Times may not always be real smart.

The profile, written by Richard Fausset, appeared in the Sunday Times. In a subsequent attempt to explain the piece, national editor Marc Lacey identified Fausset as "one of [the New York Times'] smartest thinkers and best writers."

Fausset is "one of [the New York Times'] smartest thinkers!" If that is true, it doesn't speak especially well for the New York Times. In the end, his profile of this top Nazi operates at a slow, dull-witted level. We're told that the Nazi enjoys his pets. The truth is, we don't learn much else.

Let's start with a minor correction. The Nazi in question, Tony Hovater, really isn't a top-ranking Nazi. He's a 29-year-old welder from New Carlisle, Ohio who "helped start the Traditionalist Worker Party, one of the extreme right-wing groups that marched in Charlottesville, Va., in August."

Hovater helped start this party in 2015. It doesn't seem that the group is about to take over the nation. In the passage shown below, Fausset reports the size of the group. Based upon what Fausset reports, it isn't entirely clear why he bothered to profile this fellow at all:
FAUSSET (11/26/17): [T]he movement is no joke. The party, Mr. Hovater said, is now approaching 1,000 people. He said that it has held food and school-supply drives in Appalachia. “These are people that the establishment doesn’t care about,” he said.

Marilyn Mayo, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, estimated that the Traditionalist Worker Party had a few hundred members at most, while Americans who identify as “alt-right” could number in the tens of thousands.

“It is small in the grand scheme of things, but it’s one of the segments of the white supremacist movement that’s grown over the last two years,” she said.
According to Fausset's expert source, Hovater's party may have 200 people. Meanwhile, the entire "alt-right" movement may number "in the tens of thousands."

In a nation of 330 million, do those numbers justify an attempt to plumb Hovater's thinking? Maybe they do and maybe they don't—but Fausset goes about that task in a markedly lazy, uninquisitive way.

Very few things about Hovater's thinking ever get nailed down at all. Early on, we're told that Hovater "flatly denounc[es] the concept of democracy," but we're never quite told what he'll be throwing overboard, or what he imagines taking the place of our current systems, frail though they may be.

He denounces the concept of democracy? What would he favor instead? With Fausset seeming to ask few questions, this is as close as we get:
FAUSSET: He said he wanted to see the United States become “an actually fair, meritocratic society.” Absent that, he would settle for a white ethno-state “where things are fair, because there’s no competing demographics for government power or for resources.”

His fascist ideal, he said, would resemble the early days in the United States, when power was reserved for landowners “and, you know, normies didn’t really have a whole hell of a lot to say.”
Does that mean that Hovater'a first choice would be a multiracial, meritocratic state? As with almost everything else, Fausset doesn't ask. Hovater, therefore, doesn't tell.

Let's ask a few more questions. In Hovater's ideal state—it would apparently be meritocratic and fascist—how much land would a person have to own to gain access to "power?" What types of "power" would landowners get? Fausset asks no such questions, gets even fewer answers.

Meanwhile, what does Hovater think about race? At one point, Fausset offers this:
FAUSSET: He is adamant that the races are probably better off separated, but he insists he is not racist. He is a white nationalist, he says, not a white supremacist. There were mixed-race couples at the wedding. Mr. Hovater said he was fine with it.

“That’s their thing, man,” he said.

Online it is uglier. On Facebook, Mr. Hovater posted a picture purporting to show what life would have looked like if Germany had won World War II: a streetscape full of happy white people, a bustling American-style diner and swastikas

“What part is supposed to look unappealing?” he wrote.
What does Hovater mean when he says he's "not racist?" Fausset doesn't quite ask or say. Is Hovater really friendly with mixed-race couples? Fausset takes no names, offers no confirmation.

"Online it is uglier," Fausset says, but he doesn't seem to have tried to test this impression on Hovater.

He quotes Hovater making a banal remark about how great it would be if Hitler had won World War II. Fausset says the photograph in question is ugly, but he doesn't test Hovater's thinking.

“What part [of that picture] is supposed to look unappealing?” Could it be the part where we see the bodies of all the people who would have been killed to bring that wonderful world into being?

What did Hovater says when asked? Fausset didn't ask, so Hovater didn't tell.

We noted the fact that Lacey, Fausset's editor, thinks Fausset is very smart. We found zero evidence of that trait in this profile.

Meanwhile, Fausset says the same darn thing about Hovater! Here's how he starts his own attempt to explain the controversial profile he wrote:
FAUSSET (11/26/17A): There is a hole at the heart of my story about Tony Hovater, the white nationalist and Nazi sympathizer.

Why did this man—intelligent, socially adroit and raised middle class amid the relatively well-integrated environments of United States military bases—gravitate toward the furthest extremes of American political discourse?
We don't favor the exhibitionistic flogging of people like Hovater. But what in the world made Fausset think that Hovater is "intelligent?" Was it the part of the profile where Hovater makes these banal remarks?
FAUSSET (11/26/17): It was midday at a Panera Bread, and Mr. Hovater was describing his political awakening over a turkey sandwich...

He declared the widely accepted estimate that six million Jews died in the Holocaust “overblown.” He said that while the Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler wanted to exterminate groups like Slavs and homosexuals, Hitler “was a lot more kind of chill on those subjects.”

“I think he was a guy who really believed in his cause,” he said of Hitler.
“He really believed he was fighting for his people and doing what he thought was right.”
We're not in favor of beating up on people who are perhaps strangely dumb That said, are Fausset and Hovater possibly peas in a pod?

Imagine! At the New York Times, "one of the smartest thinkers" listened to someone talk nonsense like that about the Holocaust and about Hitler. He came away with a weird assessment; the smartest thinker at the Times called that person "intelligent!" That may be all we need to know about the state of our journalism.

What is this profile really like? Structurally, it's a standard type of middlebrow profile—the type of profile which is designef to get its kick from some apparent contradiction which is in fact utterly fatuous.

In the world of comedy, such profiles sit beneath headlines like this:
To Comedian A, getting laughs is serious business!
In the world of corporate press promotions, such profiles get built around piddle like this:
Journalist A is the TV star who doesn't own a TV set!
The modern journo loves contradictions—and the more fatuous the better. Fausset's profile works from this hook:
I met a Nazi who goes to the mall and loves to play with his pets!
Is Fausset one of the Times' smartest thinkers? It's entirely possible! But in this profile, the banality of evil has seemed to meet the sheer fatuity of the modern press.

Which of the two has been doing more harm? Did we mention the fact that Hovater's party has maybe 200 members?


  1. I have no way of judging if Somerby is correct here, since I maxed out my "free reads" of the Times clicking on all the links from TDH. Should I subscribe, thus helping the Times stay afloat, so that I can see how badly they are failing and thus why no one should subscribe?

    1. Try a different browser. In the future read the Times with the "private window" or "new incognito window" option or, before you go over each month, delete your cookies for a particular site.

      (For Chrome it's:
      settings>scroll down to advanced and under "Privacy and security" find "Content settings">Cookies>see all cookies>enter nyt in search box and delete all nytimes cookies)

    2. Now you're commenting constructively. That isn't so hard now, is it?

    3. The newest version of Firefox is great and has the "private window" option. Always has, but the latest version works as advertised otherwise in terms of speed, and the add-ons seem virtually limitless. Chrome can't touch the Firefox browser, but perhaps I'm ignorant of how good it is (I have to use it at work).

      Click file and select "Open new private window" and paste the url. Si simple.

      Miss your comments Cmike, though there hasn't been much here lately to comment on. Tempting to address the trolls and haters, but why waste the time?


    4. Leroy,

      I've been in a couple of recent threads.

      I should start making Firefox my primary again because of its [lack of] business model. I've been going to Opera when I need a browser not running an ad blocker. Back when Firefox was my primary I was running into a lot problems with video streaming, that's why I abandoned it. Now I'm sort of committed to my gmail account but that's no reason not to switch back. (I did notice, as advertised, the latest version of Firefox was loading and running faster than Chrome but then I finally dumped my cache at Chrome and that revved things up there.)

    5. Cmike,

      Looks like you already do have the latest Firefox. I've never had a problem with video streaming myself in any version, maybe it's the sources? And anyway, why stick with Chrome if you have to dump the cache to make it run properly? Yes, you have to do it with FF too, but that's more of a general maintenance issue, and needed infrequently. Which I guess many don’t bother with.

      And you can always turn off ad-blocking in FF with a couple of clicks. I do it myself in order to allow ads on sites I like that depend on it, and there’s nothing easier to do than to ignore ads. Amiright?

      Sorry I missed your posts, maybe they weren’t memorable. : ) Saw your latest though.

      Sure would be nice if we could direct to our comments on this blog, but I think I see where that would be unworkable. And just realized, I can save links to the comment board. Or can we? I aim to find out as an advanced amateur.


    6. Leroy, the green date-and-time (after the commenter's name, above the comment) is a link to that comment: right-click it and select "copy link location", then paste it into your <a href=""> in a comment elsewhere; or bookmark it for future reference.

      Having a 64K (dual-CPU) processor, I downloaded both the 32K and 64K versions of Firefox (named Firefox 32 and Firefox 64 in my taskbar), to have the option of running the smaller version when I had other things to run concurrently. With the drawback of Firefox 57 being that many add-ons I like become disabled, I have upgraded (and will continue to upgrade) only the 64K version, keeping the 32K version at 56.0.2, and not upgrading add-ons past 56-compatible — and the 32K has just become my preferred version.

    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    8. Raven, what are you going on on about? : )

      Thanks for pointing out the time-stamps, and the means to use them. Hadn’t noticed that, but now I fear that it will appeal to my innate (or is it overt) narcissism.

      Ah, to hell with it, I like me, and what I write. I suppose that is exactly what I was asking for. Because I value any response to what I write.

      Anyway, in terms of Firefox, I too run a 64k processor. It has six chips, but apparently they don’t hyper thread, wetf that means. It also has 16 G of memory, but I suppose that is a minimum requirement nowadays. Bought the refurbished unit from Sears (!) for what seemed a bargain at the time. Alas, I had to replace the hard drive. Thank goodness I had backed it all up. It was fun actually to replace it and reinstall the operating system, but was also a pita.

      You navigate the web differently than most people, seems to me. I could be wrong. What’s great about FF is that you have the option of loading older versions, as you’ve described. What I don’t understand is why anyone amongst the cognoscenti (loose term) on this topic would go anywhere else. What are the advantages of the other browsers?

      Cmike points to the business model of FF. In my opinion, browser-wise, there’s nowhere else to go. But I could be wrong. I’d like to know why, just because.


    9. Leroy, as I parsed your "Sure would be nice if we could direct to our comments on this blog," I thought you meant linking to individual comments... and this was how to find the comment address. (For a comment in the same thread, you can give just the part of the URL after the #, as I did here.)

    10. (... and including the # ...)

    11. > "You navigate the web differently than most people, seems to me."

      Dunno, being mostly homebound these days I don't watch how other people do it. I started as a mainframe user in the late '60s, Apple II+ owner in 1979, started BBS-surfing with a modem shortly afterward, then Usenet (the first internet community) was established the following year and I got on through the local technical college as soon as it connected. (Most of my posts from there are pre-archive, but a few were posted late enough to get archived — here's one — and interested readers web-saved some elsewhere, e.g. here and here; while this had been originally posted as a reply on a BBS-relayed PODSnet channel of the same name as the poem title.) In the early days there wasn't a whole lot of reference, i.e. book-type, content on the 'Net (which again meant Usenet, before the Web), but I had a huge reference library on shelves sitting right behind me, even at home... so very often I ended up answering questions, writing or contributing to FAQs and such, and some of those files (dealing with historical or otherwise non-timebound topics) are still floating around.

    12. Raven, you’re killing me, man. I’d have to research a lot of the terms you just threw at me. Not objecting!

      I checked your links, and am duly impressed, as I’ve been before. Tolkien’s books seem to speak to modern times, and in fact the first trilogy of movies did a good job of making that point clear. I was disappointed with the follow-ups. Anyway.

      You write some really good poetry. I was 23 years old fresh out of the Coast Guard when you wrote “A Voyage to Middle Earth.”

      Just sent you an email (I think). No matter. I did indeed mean navigating to specific comments, thanks for the tips. And as far as “browsing the web differently,” you jump between different versions of FF to suit your needs. QED.

      Still haven’t got an answer as to why another browser would be preferable.

      Hope you’re doing well, and Cheers!


    13. Oh, I no longer have those email addresses; even those full domains (the complete strings following the @) no longer exist, haven't for years, though the root sites still do. Thank you for the compliments and good wishes; likewise.

      I have no idea why another browser would be preferable, as I avoid them for good and sufficient reasons (chiefly security risks). In addition to desktop anti-malware software, I tie in add-on extensions for Firefox.

  2. "In a nation of 330 million, do those numbers justify an attempt to plumb Hovater's thinking?"

    Certainly. After all, this guy's thinking is a direct result of your tribe's relentless race-mongering and obsession with identity politics.

    1. Жанна КогулькоNovember 29, 2017 at 6:03 PM

      Вор, укравший ноутбук профессора шведского университета Umeå, вернул все его содержимое на флэшке. Когда профессор обнаружил пропажу ноутбука, он впал в состояние шока, ведь там были записи 10 лет работы. Однако вор оказался настолько порядочным, что некоторое время спустя вернул профессору флэшку, куда была скопирована вся информация.

    2. Mao,
      Yup. When liberals are racist, it's their fault. When Conservatives are racist, it's liberals fault.
      It's a good scam, but I understand. You're just pointing out that Conservatives are mouth-breathing droolers who can't be held responsible for their feelings or actions. Makes sense, but i thought it was just Republican caricatures of liberals that believed it. Good to realize the right-wing sees it too.

    3. Mao, it’s heartening to hear from someone who has navigated unscathed through a lifetime of carefully orchestrated oligarchic propaganda.
      However did you manage it?

  3. "But what in the world made Fausset think that Hovater is "intelligent?"
    And if Fausset had called Hovater dumb, Somerby would've criticized Fausset along the lines of " We liberals love to think The Others are dumb; Can you see why They hate Us?"

    1. "Can you see why They hate Us?"
      Yes. We treat women and people of color with respect.

  4. Meanwhile, our smart, intelligent host blogger writes:
    • “What did Hovater says when asked?”
    • “...the type of profile which is designef to get its kick....”

    Should we hold our collective breaths long enough for him to correct these typos, now that they’ve been pointed out for him here in comments?

    Inadvisable: Bob Somerby never reads his comments, even to see corrections, updates, hints for further story details, etc.; he’s far too smart & intelligent for that. That’s why spam is a recurrent problem.

  5. Agreed. One of my favorite bloggers LINK
    monitors his comment board, welcomes criticism, responds, and is appreciative of those who point out typos.

    Been seeing a lot of those here lately.


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