Several journalists and liberal activists criticized National Review author David French for allegedly consoling conservatives that if there was an attack on a U.S. city, at least only liberals would die.
The outrage obscured the fact that National Review never mentioned anything about politics, and hardly could be interpreted as consolation to conservatives.
The firestorm started after Newsweek posted a write-up of French’s article claiming the conservative National Review “is telling its readers not to worry about a potential nuclear strike because they live in America’s suburbs and countryside.” That article was reposted by Raw Story, which then made the rounds through liberal Twitter.
MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid found the Newsweek post and expanded the accusations, summarizing French’s thesis with a fabricated quote to her 1 million followers.
“We have truly entered the age of insanity when the conservative argument in favor of risking nuclear war is, ‘don’t worry, it will only kill Democrats and minorities.’ Shame on you, @DavidAFrench,” Reid said in a now deleted tweet.
Reid’s tweet was captured by other Twitter users.
A tale of hyperbolic telephone, in three acts
1. National Review: A nuke would spare most people, especially in suburbs but also in big cities
2. Newsweek: NR says a nuke would spare conservative suburbs
3. Twitter: NR says nukes are ok because they’d only hit Dems & minorities pic.twitter.com/uQtdUwQrh1
— Julia Galef (@juliagalef) January 17, 2018
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In a response, French said the Newsweek story and Reid’s tweet were “a smear, pure and simple.” “No person could read my post in good faith and conclude that I believed that nuclear war shouldn’t cause concern. No person could read my post in good faith and think that I was making a political point,” French said.
The original post that set off such a backlash is actually fairly straightforward. “First, you have to understand that the odds are overwhelming that you’ll survive an initial blast,” French writes in his blog, posted Monday.
“Nuclear weapons are devastating, but it’s a Hollywood myth that any individual strike will vaporize an entire American city, much less the suburbs and countryside,” French wrote.
Perhaps because Newsweek author Graham Lanktree considered French’s admonition that in the event of a nuclear attack we should be “prepared to live” applied only to National Review’s conservative readers. Lanktree did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
French’s relatively short blog post, however, urges people to use the time between a missile alert — like the kind Hawaii mistakenly sent last weekend — and the impending blast to find shelter, collect necessities, and plan for a long fallout. Other outlets, including the Washington Post, USA Today and BuzzFeed posted stories about what to do to survive a nuclear detonation.
Reid since retracted her statement criticizing French, saying she had not read French’s original post, saying the Raw Story article, a repost of Newseek’s, “doesn’t reflect [French’s] intent.”
“David and I disagree on almost everything, but my take on this was off track,” Reid said.
Taking back my take on this take – the @rawstory writeup doesn’t reflect @DavidAFrench‘s intent and I think @Aunty__Em would probably agree. David and I disagree on almost everything, but my take on this was off track. https://t.co/YARwfhRNRE
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) January 18, 2018
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