December 30, 2007

Are They That Afraid Of Bill Kristol?

The New York Times decided to bring another conservative commentator aboard their flailing op-ed pages, still recovering from their years-long cloister of TimesSelect. They chose Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard, whose run at Time Magazine recently came to an end. Did liberals celebrate the balancing of opinion at the Gray Lady? Not exactly, as The Politico points out:

The New York Times’ hiring of Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol to write for its op-ed page caused a frenzy in the liberal blogosphere Friday night, with threats of canceling subscriptions and claims that the Gray Lady had been hijacked by neo-cons

But Times editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal sees things differently.

Rosenthal told Politico shortly after the official announcement Saturday that he fails to understand “this weird fear of opposing views.”

“The idea that The New York Times is giving voice to a guy who is a serious, respected conservative intellectual — and somehow that’s a bad thing,” Rosenthal added. “How intolerant is that?”

Well, pretty intolerant. Kristol told Michael Calderone that he enjoyed following the outrage at the Huffington Post and "watching blogosphere heads explode". The same people who celebrated Kristol's departure from Time suddenly got a case of shrieking hysteria when they found out that the Times would publish a Kristol column once per week, half of the time as their normal two-column-per-week stable of pundits.

Josh Marshall's reaction was among the more sane, but still laughably hyperbolic, in a post titled "Kristol To Ravish Gray Lady":

But the weirdest thing about the choice is that Sulzberger and Co. have failed to grasp the taxonomy of the neoconservative literary cartel. David Brooks is the house-broken William Kristol, the cadre tasked with operating just behind enemy lines, or at least in the no-man's-land where only a kinder gentler version of the faith can be propounded. And they already have him.

So why you'd want both Kristol and Brooks on staff is a question that simply has no logical answer unless they got some sort of two for one deal or other kind of group discount.

Oh, my stars and garters! The Times will have two conservative columnists -- or in terms of quantity, one and a half! How can the Left hope to compete -- with Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, Bob Herbert, Frank Rich, and Nicholas Kristof?

I have to admit that I find the controversy refreshing. It's good to see the progressives admit that a half of Bill Kristol outweighs the five liberal commentators at the Gray Lady. It also shows, as Rosenthal notes, the rhetorical intolerance that many progressives display on a fairly regular basis. When they cancel subscriptions to the one national newspaper most amenable to their politics simply because it allows one competing opinion to appear, that says something about their insecurity.


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