What seems like a long time ago, The Atlantic had a section called Notes. The idea behind Notes was something between a curated comments section and letters to the editor; it was thought that various TA writers would be encouraged to respond to the strongest good-faith dissents related to articles they themselves had published on the main site. The plan was to eventually have multiple threads of conversation keeping things straight as the authors engaged in back-and forth on their own work. The expectation was that a reader could pop in and see several conversations evolving and growing in any given week, purposefully optimized for quality of thought and taking advantage of TA’s then-pretty-good readership to create a unique kind of content.
"For the record, I don’t have any huge opinions on Williamson as a writer; my main familiarity with his work is from this story."
There was one other interesting controversy with K Williamson. At some point, I think at NR, he wrote a piece about small towns that basically concluded "good riddance, let them die." It was a right/libertarian learn to code paean that lost him a lot of fans on the cultural conservative right.
Back when I was still reading print copes of NR, I did like him as a writer, though.
"So it was that TA’s only sorta-conservative wrote an article where he explained that while Williamson’s views were clearly repulsive and had no place in public discourse, he opposed them on the basis of a narrow principle he totally understands most people don’t hold:"
In this paragraph, what is the "them" he opposes? The firing, or the views on abortion/capital punishment?
I liked The Atlantic for a time, and stopped reading after MSM all got TDS. (No, I stopped reading after I got over my TDS ~2017(8)?) I heard about the K. Williamson thing, 'cause I was still reading National Review, I never read Conor F.'s opinion piece on the matter. Reading what you wrote it sounds like he found a narrow path through his workplace and free speech. I think you should give C.F. a bit of a break. To come out too strong is to lose his job. He may make up all sorts of reasons in his mind for this. I kinda feel the same way about Neil Young dissing on Joe Rogan. I think Neil is wrong, but I want to give him a break because he is in his own 'liberal bubble' and doesn't know better. (of course I could be totally wrong.) I've stopped reading MSM, I get my news from ACX, Lex Fridman podcast, and other random blogs on substack.) (Well and my co-workers. I'm MSM adjacent. :^ ) I'm libertarian left, and find most in common with the libertarian right.
Totally agree about the way The Atlantic has suffered from Trump Derangement Syndrome. It may well be that the true legacy of Trump is a permanent breaking of long-lasting institutions.