This was an article I cared about reading, "How Rousseau Predicted Trump/The Enlightenment philosopher’s attack on cosmopolitan élites now seems prophetic." I cared, because I've been thinking about Trump's recent Second Amendment remark in terms of the right of revolution, and I'm the kind of educated, elite reader The New Yorker is aimed at. I like to think I can relate present-day politics to classic works of philosophy — get the lofty long view of things. So I jump in:
"I love the poorly educated,” Donald Trump said during a victory speech in February, and he has repeatedly taken aim at America’s élites and their “false song of globalism.” Voters in Britain, heeding Brexit campaigners’ calls to “take back control” of a country ostensibly threatened by uncontrolled immigration, “unelected élites,” and “experts,” have reversed fifty years of European integration. Other countries across Western Europe, as well as Israel, Russia, Poland, and Hungary, seethe with demagogic assertions of ethnic, religious, and national identity. In India, Hindu supremacists have adopted Rush Limbaugh’s favorite epithet “libtard” to channel righteous fury against liberal and secular élites.Rush Limbaugh’s favorite epithet “libtard”? I read The New Yorker, but I also keep up with Rush Limbaugh, and I don't feel as though I have ever heard him say "libtard." It's certainly not his favorite epithet. I know that without even checking. When Rush Limbaugh talks about liberals — which is probably his favorite subject — he says "liberals." That's epithet enough.
Has he ever said "libtard"? Rush Limbaugh puts the entire transcript of his shows up on his website. As a subscriber, I can search the entire archive. And there isn't even one instance of him saying "libtard"!
"Libtard" is an offensive word, unnecessarily dragging in disrespect for the mentally challenged. Yet The New Yorker assumes Rush Limbaugh uses it and — precisely when it's showing off the most elite approach to political analysis — purveys utter misinformation to its readers. Will those readers check? I had a basis for doubting, because I actually monitor what's on the Rush Limbaugh show. But I suspect most readers will rely on their existing bad opinion of Rush, a bad opinion that is stoked by this highly respected magazine with its longstanding reputation for stellar fact-checking — a reputation it seems to think nothing of throwing away.
UPDATE: The New Yorker acknowledges and corrects its error.