The Spectator is a weekly British magazine first published on 6 July 1828. It is currently owned by the Barclay brothers, who also own The Daily Telegraph. Its principal subject area is politics, about which it generally takes a robustly conservative editorial line, although regular contributors such as Rod Liddle write from a perspective which some consider to be left-wing. The magazine also has extensive arts pages on books, music, opera, and film and TV reviews.
Editorship of The Spectator has often been part of a route to high office in the British Conservative Party; past editors include Iain Macleod, Ian Gilmour and Nigel Lawson, all of whom became cabinet ministers. Editorship can also be a springboard for a greater role in public affairs, as with Boris Johnson (1999 to 2005), Conservative Mayor of London.
Like its sister publication The Daily Telegraph, The Spectator is generally Atlanticist and Eurosceptic in outlook, favouring close ties with the United States rather than with the European Union, and it is usually supportive of Israel. However, it has expressed strong doubts about the Iraq war, and some of its contributors, such as Matthew Parris and Stuart Reid, express a more Americosceptic, old-school conservative line. Other contributors such as Irwin Stelzer argue from an American-style neoconservative position. Like much of the British press it is critical of the unilateral extradition treaty that allowed the Natwest three to be extradited, and in July 2006 the magazine devoted a leading article to lambasting the US Senate
The circulation was not at all hindered by the notoriety the magazine achieved after revelations about Johnson's affair with one of his columnists Petronella Wyatt, the extramarital adventures of its publisher Kimberly Quinn and affair of the associate editor Rod Liddle. The nickname The Sextator has gained some currency.
The Telegraph had considered the article too risky to publish, but Spectator editor Dominic Lawson thought Cash's idea was as old as Hollywood itself and that Lawson's being a Jew would mitigate adverse reactions to publication. There was, however, considerable controversy, although owner Conrad Black did not personally rebuke Lawson. Max Hastings, then editor of The Daily Telegraph, wrote with regard to Telegraph group owner Conrad Black, who also owned The Jerusalem Post at the time, "It was one of the few moments in my time with Conrad when I saw him look seriously rattled: 'You don't understand, Max. My entire interests in the United States and internationally could be seriously damaged by this'. Black himself had and has a Jewish wife, Barbara Amiel.
The article was defended by some conservatives. John Derbyshire, who says he has "complicated and sometimes self-contradictory feelings about Jews", wrote on National Review Online regarding what he saw as the Jewish overreaction to the article that "It was a display of arrogance, cruelty, ignorance, stupidity, and sheer bad manners by rich and powerful people towards a harmless, helpless young writer, and the Jews who whipped up this preposterous storm should all be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
The psychologist Kevin B. MacDonald, writing in response to Derbyshire's critical review of his book The Culture of Critique, wrote of how "chilling" it was that "critics of Jews simply disappear from sight - their professional horizons limited if not entirely ended." MacDonald used Joseph Sobran and Cash as examples of such people "who have called attention to Jewish power and influence in certain areas. Jewish groups have made any critical discussion of Jewish issues off limits and that's vitally important because, yes, Jews are a very powerful group.
Similarly, Kevin Myers wrote in The Sunday Telegraph that "we should really be able to discuss Jews and their Jewishness, their virtues or their vices, as one can any other identifiable group, without being called anti-Semitic. Frankness does not feed anti-Semitism; secrecy, however, does. The silence of sympathetic discretion can easily be misunderstood as a conspiracy. It is time to be frank about Jews." Myers complained that Jews described The Spectator as anti-Semitic.
Cash apologised for the article and visited the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The Forward reported that he had trouble publishing his work and that Lawson could not publish an article on the birth of his daughter with Down's syndrome in The New Republic because of owner Martin Peretz's complaint about the article. More generally, the controversy can be seen to embody divisions within conservatism, between pro-Zionist neoconservatism and an older scepticism of Jews.
MEDIA: Dear Matthew: Keep Your Cool ; as Matthew d'Ancona Prepares to Take the Helm at the Spectator', We Asked Key Figures What They'll Be Looking for from His Editorship
Feb 26, 2006; Debate's exciting, so let's have it' ANN WIDDECOMBE Conservative MP If you New Statesman, you are about something influential...