Salon's Alex Pareene doesn't know me, but for the second year running he has given me a terrific Christmas present: the Hack List, his roundup of the worst political analysts and commentators in the business. Last year it was called the Hack Thirty, and I posted about it here. This year there are just twenty hacks named, with a focus on their doings in 2011. Some names (like David Brooks) appear again; others from last year who didn't make the cut are included in an appendix: "Hack List Alums: Where Are They Now?" Pareene builds a strong case against each honoree. He's merciless, and hilarious. My favorite of this year's takedowns was number 5, Katie Roiphe, who, he noted, has gained attention once again "for being a reliable source of controversial-sounding contrarian anti-feminist bullshit" who "also writes very badly about the Internet and people on the Internet who are mean to Katie Roiphe." Also very deserving is number 3, who inspires this cheering observation: "One upside to Americas frothing populist hatred of intellectuals is that we dont produce many Bernard-Henri Levys."
(I love the present, but not the wrapping - Salon always manages to make it difficult for me to find the things I want to read, and impossible to find them again. Right now I can't find an easy way to link to more than the first five "hacks." I imagine they'll fix that eventually, but for now I recommend going to the list of Pareene's posts, finding the "earlier articles" link at the bottom, and moving backward that way.)
As a bonus, Pareene offers a reminder that the late Christopher Hitchens "was disastrously wrong" about the Iraq War, and his death shouldn't prevent us from acknowledging that. His take on Hitchens is not a eulogy, but seems entirely on-target to me.