When it comes to columnists, I’m sort of a “ya get what ya pay for” shopper – Maureen Dowd is going to use Maureen Down phrases, Dave Barry is going to be slightly obvious and then sneak up and say something brilliant, and Ann Coulter is going to eat her own mother. But Bill Kristol, recently hired by the New York Times, has now crossed over into Bafflingly Terrible territory.
The idea that the NYT needed a conservative columnist is further proof how antiquated and behind-the-eight-ball mainstream media has become. It’s an effort to “cover all the bases” in a world that has largely left that sort of tokenism behind. And it’d be one thing if Kristol were any good at the job, but his recent column contained another whopping factual error, the kind that gets you demoted/fired at any newspaper unless you hide behind the translucent curtain of the “opinion” page.
This is the third completely avoidable error from Kristol since he took the post; not content with being ideologically bankrupt, he has to undermine himself with “facts” that never happen. That’s the problem with conservatives who fancy themselves Serious Intellectuals© – so much of their analysis is of the “I make my own reality” genre that it never holds up under scrutiny. If I were one of you actually smart right-leaners, I’d be pissed off.
The thing that riles me, however, is that Kristol’s presence at the New York Times is a destructive force at a paper I have always loved. I’m speaking purely on my behalf, having not talked to my friends at the NYT, but there’s something slightly disgusting about Kristol’s tenure, especially given how the Times embarrassed all journalism on the build-up to W’s Iraq War. I mean this in all seriousness: Matt from the comments section would do the job 50,000 times better, and I’d be happy to write the recommendation.
I realize my own contribution to the Op-Ed page of the New York Times probably didn’t enter Pulitzer consideration in 2004, but at least I got all my Harry Potter facts straight. Plus, I got letters from kids all around the world!
The scuttlebutt on Bill Kristol is that his dad Irv was best friends with Abe Rosenthal, and Abe’s son Andy happens to be the New York Times’ opinion page editor. I’m all for nepotism if the charmed subject happens to be great – hell, nepotism gave us JFK, Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach, and an NBA full of Tar Heels. But in this case, it just makes the NYTimes look like a bunch of amateurs – and if the Old Gray Lady starts shopping at Kmart, we have naught but the New Yorker and Cat Fancy to foment our dreams.