The Book of the Week is “A Matter of Opinion” by Victor S. Navasky, published in 2005. This tome details the decades the author has spent working at the more than 150-year old, politically left-wing weekly opinion journal, The Nation.
Typical for a publication of its nature, The Nation, as of the book’s writing, had turned a profit for only three fiscal years of its existence. It is supposed to have for-profit status. During their histories, all such journals that derive most of their revenue from subscribers and a little from advertising, consider becoming a non-profit organization. The major traits of non-profits include: the ability to accept tax-deductible contributions, lower postage costs, and the fact that they are prohibited from endorsing political candidates and are restricted in their lobbying of lawmakers.
The Nation has been a party to various lawsuits in connection with defamation, intellectual property and free speech issues. One of its goals is to expose the truth about the activities of the American government. Navasky wrote, “… claims of national security are all too often a cloak for government lies, cover-ups, and bureaucratic disinformation.” Started in 1979, one suit brought by Harper & Row dragged on for years over The Nation’s releasing a story on President Ford’s pardoning of Richard Nixon prior to the release of Ford’s new book; Harper & Row spent an estimated $250,000, but it was seeking damages of $12,500.
In 1989, the tiny, financially struggling Nation wrote a satirical letter to Time, Inc., the target of hostile corporate takeover offers by Gulf + Western and Paramount with an offer of its own. It said, “… we can do better than Paramount’s $175 per share offer… our plan is to pledge the assets of Time, Inc. as collateral on the loan we take out to buy you so cash will be no problem for us.”
Read the book to learn of Navasky’s stories on all the issues involving the running of an opinion journal in the Twentieth Century, into the early years of the Twenty-First Century.