A curious incident last night as The Baffler, an esteemed (or once-esteemed) left-wing political and literary journal, suddenly retracted a highly-touted pro-Bernie tract by Amber A’Lee Frost.
The piece, entitled ‘It’s Bernie, Bitch,’ made an acerbic and amusing case for why all socialists, leftists, and ‘progressives’ should suck it up, quit the belly-aching, and back Bernie Sanders in 2020 because he’s the only hope for achieving social democracy in the foreseeable future. Whatever you might think of Bernie’s potential candidacy, the piece was interestingly argued and well-written. Presumably why it has since emerged on Jacobin.
Frost, typically the sanest voice on the high-flying left-wing podcast Chapo Trap House, has never been bashful about avowing her support for Bernie. So too does she avow disdain for establishment Democrats, liberals, and ‘progressives’ who pretend to be radical but only end up reinforcing the corrupt status quo with their stupid tactics. On occasion she has even chastised Very Online Socialists, having mocked the ‘red rose emoji Twitter’ crowd for acting as though Gavin McInnes and his band of loser followers represent some ascendant, existentially-threatening fascist menace. The obviously greater threats are the capitalist exploiters, Frost tends to observe.
In the article’s place, Baffler editors have posted the following message:
Editor’s Note: We have removed the January 11, 2019, column by Amber Frost from our website after determining that it does not meet The Baffler’s guidelines for coverage and commentary concerning political candidates. The essay is an expression of Ms Frost’s personal views. While The Baffler supports a robust discussion about political issues and candidates, as a nonprofit organization it does not support or oppose any individual candidate or potential candidate for political office. We are sorry for any inconvenience to our readers. We appreciate Ms Frost’s other contributions to The Baffler, which you can find here.
The Baffler piece was widely-circulated, including by actor John Cusack and other players in the Bernie-verse. To retract it without warning is a journalistic disgrace. Baffler brass claim it relates to concerns around the tax code, which prohibits non-profits from endorsing candidates for political office. However, caselaw in this area is notoriously convoluted. Based on the rationale set forth, the publication must not ‘support or oppose any individual candidate or potential candidate for political office’ lest its non-profit status be compromised. Oh, really? So there must not be any articles in the archive which convey opposition to Donald Trump? It’s a joke. And anyway, Frost wrote only on behalf of herself, not The Baffler institutionally. Cockburn suspects funny business.
Who might have complained about the piece, precipitating its rash removal? DNC lawyers on the prowl, perhaps? Just a theory. Certainly lots of hacks in the think-tank and media industrial complex would have incentive for lodging such a complaint. The Baffler did not respond to a request for comment.