But they cannot so easily dismiss The Economist, an avowedly conservative voice that is among the oldest and most respected periodicals in the world. ~Joe Conason

Conason refers to The Economist‘s leader on the pro-Democratic political trends in the country.  The leader lays out a compelling case that the country is trending towards the Democrats and, in certain ways, does seem to be headed leftwards.  The merits of the article speak for themselves, and the magazine’s political leanings are really beside the point.  But this description of The Economist is just absurd. 

The Economist is so “avowedly conservative” that it endorsed John Kerry in 2004 and has long maintained a position as a ‘wet’ British liberal magazine, and in many ways it has become much wetter over the last 15 years.  If Portillo and Blair could have a baby together, its name would be Economist.  Its politics are globalist, internationalist and Europhile, its economics are right of center in a pro-corporation, pro-globalisation mode, its social views are squishy center-left with hints of libertarianism, and it is conventionally multiculti on questions of immigration and diversity.  It favours military interventions for both humanitarian and supposed international security, it is positively exuberant in its support for democracy promotion and when it comes to the Near East it is skeptical about the virtues of untrammeled Israeli nationalism.  (In spite of much of this, it is still probably one of the better international news magazines around, if only because its competition is minimal.)  In neither the American nor British contexts would someone say that The Economist is “avowedly conservative,” unless we are speaking of it in comparison to Le Monde. 

But don’t take my word for it.  In their own words:

What, besides free trade and free markets, does The Economist believe in? “It is to the Radicals that The Economist still likes to think of itself as belonging. The extreme centre is the paper’s historical position.” That is as true today as when Crowther said it in 1955. The Economist considers itself the enemy of privilege, pomposity and predictability. It has backed conservatives such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. It has supported the Americans in Vietnam. But it has also endorsed Harold Wilson and Bill Clinton, and espoused a variety of liberal causes: opposing capital punishment from its earliest days, while favouring penal reform and decolonisation, as well as—more recently—gun control and gay marriage.

They describe themselves as latter-day classical liberals, which they are to some degree.