Happy second birthday, Salon Premium!

Thanks to our readers, we're still raising Rush Limbaugh's blood pressure -- and Bill O'Reilly's, too.

Published April 25, 2003 8:18PM (EDT)

They said it couldn't be done.

The naysayers said that Salon Premium wouldn't live to see its first birthday, let alone its second. They were sure of it. Gloating and heehawing at the prospect of our demise. But they grossly underestimated a few things, foremost you, our readers. Nearly 80,000 of you have dared to defy the conventional wisdom by subscribing to Salon Premium over the past two years. We would not be here today -- unafraid to tell the emperor he has no clothes -- without your support. For that we are truly thankful.

Fearless, independent journalism has never been more important than it is today. Although the war in Iraq made media history thanks to the hundreds of reporters and photographers embedded with U.S. and British military forces, Salon knew it was crucial to send our own correspondent, Phillip Robertson, to report from the front lines without Pentagon sanction or sign-off. Our readers agreed, showing their appreciation with countless letters of thanks -- and new subscriptions. Here's subscriber Don Elsenheimer's response to Robertson's moving piece on the joy at Saddam's fall in the Kurdish city of Mahad: "Phillip Robertson's vivid description of the boundless joy and hope expressed by villagers suddenly free of Saddam's rule also filled me with some warmth, joy and hope that Bush's war has (at least for now) produced tangible benefits for some of Iraq's citizenry. Had it come from the administration (or its jingoistic mouthpiece Fox News) I would have suspiciously dismissed it as propagandistic justification for an unpopular (on a worldwide basis) American invasion. Thank you, Salon, for once again justifying my membership with this kind of independent reporting."

But independent reporting has also been critical at the front lines of the war at home. We've featured Paul Berman and Kanan Makiya defending the Iraq invasion, Gary Kamiya and Ellen Willis opposing it, Joan Walsh, Ed Lempinen and Michelle Goldberg on the muddle in the middle. Jake Tapper has tirelessly deconstructed the Bush administration's spin -- whether it's on the so-called Coalition of the Willing or its rhetoric about still-missing weapons of mass destruction -- while Tim Grieve has kept watch on the wartime threat to civil liberties at home. We haven't shied away from the paradoxes or complexities of this historic moment, especially the notion that a war fought for questionable reasons, even bad reasons, could have positive consequences -- the liberation of the Iraqi people, the toppling of a destabilizing tyrant like Saddam. And yet we know those who are trying to declare victory in Iraq -- while Kurds battle Arabs in the North -- are understating the work that's left to be done.

And there's plenty of it, in Iraq and at home. Lately some of the right-wingers who backed the war have turned into sore winners and, having toppled Saddam, they're turning their fire on those who dared to question the intervention. This week the fedayeen of the right went after Salon, again, over Gary Kamiya's moving tribute to the fall of Saddam, "Liberation Day," in which he dared to acknowledge his mixed feelings about the Bush administration's success in Iraq. Fox News bully Bill O'Reilly called him a "fanatic" who had "no place in the public arena" and who should "think about moving to Costa Rica." And again our readers came to our defense. After we reposted Kamiya's original article and challenged O'Reilly to come to Salon to debate, reader Susan Boyer wrote: "I am so impressed with your editorial and the original article that engendered O'Reilly's wrath, I'm becoming a Premium subscriber today. Keep up the good work." (We're still awaiting an answer from O'Reilly.)

Thanks to you, Susan, and roughly 65,000 other current subscribers like you, we will.

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    David Talbot

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