This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."
Jonah Goldberg (born 1970) is a writer for the National Review Online and the Jewish World Review. He covered the 2004 Republican National Convention for USA Today and frequently appears as a television commentator.
Liberal Fascism (2009)
In 2009, Goldberg published the book Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the Left From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. Writing in the Guardian UK "Nick Cohen finds much to admire in a blistering attack on liberalism." 
- "John Kerry is a sphincter. Okay, that's a bit juvenile." 
- "I suppose in John Kerry's world good diplomacy lets the boys in the bar finish raping the girl for fear of causing a fuss. Okay, that was unfair." 
What others say
Goldberg recently disparaged Prof Juan Cole in one of his columns, and followed-up abusive comments in a blog. Cole replied:
- I think it is time to be frank about some things. Jonah Goldberg knows absolutely nothing about Iraq. I wonder if he has even ever read a single book on Iraq, much less written one. He knows no Arabic. He has never lived in an Arab country. He can't read Iraqi newspapers or those of Iraq's neighbors. He knows nothing whatsoever about Shiite Islam, the branch of the religion to which a majority of Iraqis adheres. Why should we pretend that Jonah Goldberg's opinion on the significance and nature of the elections in Iraq last Sunday matters? It does not.
Jonah Goldberg was a cheerleader for the unprovoked, unilateral US attack on Iraq. The reason he repeatedly gave was that Iraq was close to having a nuclear weapon.…
Extremist rightwing hawks like Jonah Goldberg used their privileged position as pundits to terrify the US public that Iraq was a threat to the US. He repeatedly said in the buildup to the war that Iraq was a menace to the US, and he repeatedly brought up North Korea's nuclear weapons as a reason for a preemptive attack on Iraq.
Iraq never has had nuclear weapons. Iraq never has been as close as two decades from having nuclear weapons. Iraq dismantled all vestiges of its rudimentary and exploratory nuclear weapons research in 1991. Iraq did not have a nuclear weapons program in 1992, 1993 and all the way until 2002, when Jonah Goldberg assured us Americans that we absolutely had to invade Iraq to stop it from imminently becoming a nuclear power just like North Korea.
By the way, I am in print in January 2003 saying that I did not believe Iraq posed a danger to the United States. It did not.
If Jonah Goldberg had asserted that he could fly to Mars in his pyjamas and come back in a single day, it would not have been a more fantastic allegation than the one he made about Iraq being a danger to the United States because of the nuclear issue. He made that allegation over and over again to millions of viewers on national television programs, to viewers who trusted his judgment because CNN and others purveyed him to them.
Jonah Goldberg is a fearmonger, a warmonger, and a demagogue. And besides, he was just plain wrong about one of the more important foreign policy issues to face the United States in the past half-century. It is shameful that he dares show his face in public, much less continuing to pontificate about his profound knowledge of just what Iraq is like and what needs to be done about Iraq and the significance of events in Iraq.
So let me propose to him that we debate Middle East issues, anywhere, any time, he and I. Otherwise he should please shut up and go back to selling Linda Tripp tapes on Ebay.
—Juan Cole, Jonah Goldberg Embarrasses Himself Once Again, February 5, 2005.
Bottom and digging: the spat continues…
Although Cole has exposed Goldberg's ignorance pertaining the Middle East, what is remarkable is that Goldberg proves that he is a glutton for punishment:
- Goldberg seems to like embarrassing himself, so he won't let go.
Let us see what has been established. First, I alleged that Goldberg has never read a book about Iraq, about which he keeps fulminating. I expected him at least to lie in response, the way W. did when similarly challenged on his book-reading. I expected Goldberg to say, "That is not true! I have read Phebe Marr's book on modern Iraq from cover to cover and know all about the 1963 failed Baathist coup!" But Goldberg did not respond in this way. I conclude that I was correct, and he has never read a book on this subject.
I am saying I do not understand why CNN or NPR would hire someone to talk about Iraq policy who has not read a book on the subject under discussion. Actually, of course, it would be desirable that he had read more than one book. Books are nice. They are rectangular and soft and have information in them. They can even be consumed on airplanes. Goldberg should try one.
Goldberg is now saying that he did not challenge my knowledge of the Middle East, but my judgment. I take it he is saying that his judgment is superior to mine. But how would you tell whose judgment is superior? Of course, all this talk of "judgement" is code for "political agreement." Progressives think that other progressives have good judgment, conservatives think that other conservatives have good judgment. This is a tautology in reality. Goldberg believes that I am wrong because I disagree with him about X, and anyone who disagrees with him is wrong, and ipso facto lacks good judgment.
An argument that judgment matters but knowledge does not is profoundly anti-intellectual. It implies that we do not need ever to learn anything in order make mature decisions. We can just proceed off some simple ideological template and apply it to everything. This sort of thinking is part of what is wrong with this country. We wouldn't call a man in to fix our plumbing who knew nothing about plumbing, but we call pundits to address millions of people on subjects about which they know nothing of substance.
But I did not say that Goldberg's judgment is always faulty. I said he doesn't at the moment know what he is talking about when it comes to Iraq and the Middle East, and there is no reason anyone should pay attention to what he thinks about those subjects, as a result. If judgment means anything, it has to be grounded in at least a minimum amount of knowledge. Part of the implication of my assertion is that Goldberg could actually improve his knowledge of the Middle East and consequently could improve his judgment about it (although increased knowledge would only help judgment if it were used honestly and analytically). I don't think he is intrinsically ignorant, I think he is being wilfully ignorant. He'd be welcome to get a sabbatical and come study with me for a year some time.
—Juan Cole, "Goldberg v. Cole Redux", Informed Comment, February 8, 2005.
- Inda Schaenen, "The jester of Monicagate", Salon, September 1998.