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Betsy McCaughey’s mendacious article “No Exit,” which ran in the New Republic in 1994, has long been given a share of the credit for killing the Clinton healthcare plan.  Andrew Sullivan, who was TNR’s editor at the time, says he’s addressed all this before, he’s sorry he published the piece, he ran plenty of rebuttals, and anyway Clinton’s bill had plenty of other problems too.  Fine.  But he also tells us today that he tried to correct some of McCaughey’s worst excesses but failed:

One key paragraph — critical to framing the piece so it was not a declaration of fact but an assertion of what might happen if worst came to worst — became a battlefield with her for days; and all I can say is, I lost. I guess I could have quit. Maybe I should have. I decided I would run the piece but follow it with as much dissent and criticism as possible. I did discover that she was completely resistant to rational give-and-take. It was her way or the highway.

He lost?  He was the magazine’s editor.  So who forced him to run the piece?  Andrew says he doesn’t think it’s professional to “air the specifics of internal battles after the fact,” but you can hardly go this far without doing exactly that.  He’s basically implying pretty strongly that he didn’t want to run the piece but had to anyway, and had to run it precisely to McCaughey’s specifications.  That’s pretty extraordinary.  Having said that much, surely he owes us the rest of the story?

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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