Monday, December 31, 2007

Bill Kristol and the New York Times

Bill Kristol, a conservative writer and editor, has managed the astonishing feat of being wrong on most every prediction about the Iraq war. For this he gets a reward: A contract as a columnist for the New York Times.

So delicious, isn't it? I've laughed so hard my tummy hurts. It's a version of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Times. One conservative pundit moves a seat to the right (John Tierney who was sent to write about sciences which is natural because that's not his area of expertise) around the table and another one takes the chair thereby freed. And Bill Kristol is just about perfect: Not only has he been wrong on everything important but he also hates the Times. Thus, it's natural and obvious that he should be hired there as a columnist.

That was mean of me. All true, of course, but still mean. Do you think that would qualify me for one of those contracts, too?

The answer is a cold negative. I'm not a conservative, for one thing, and I don't have a penis for another thing. And besides the Times NEEDS to hire white guy conservatives. That shows everyone that they are not really liberal at all but impartial. Never mind if Maureen Dowd represents the lonely apex of the female brain for them; they must hire more guys who hate their guts.

To ridicule any of this just shows how intolerant I am:

Times' editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal defended the move. Rosenthal told shortly after the official announcement Saturday that he fails to understand "this weird fear of opposing views....We have views on our op-ed page that are as hawkish or more so than Bill....

"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?"

I don't know. How intolerant is it? Is it as intolerant as the total lack of liberal pundits at any of the conservative newspapers? They have zero of those, you know. Only the so-called liberal newspapers feel the need to hire more conservatives than liberals. The conservative newspapers no longer hire any liberals. This doesn't seem to be problem in intolerance. Very confusing.

So why did the Times hire Kristol? For his scintillating language? I doubt it. I think the Times is scared of the right-wing establishment.

He certainly wasn't hired for some odd reason of balance, because the Times stables don't have any extreme left-wingers at all. Where is Noam Chomsky, for example? Kristol is certainly as right as conservatives of the non-fundamentalist type come these days, but the Times feels no need to balance him with someone the same ideological distance in the other direction. Given that the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post have long pursued the same strategy of affirmative action for the wingnuts we now have a politically biased system of writing on politics. It tilts to the right so badly that a wingnut who can write without making grammar mistakes is feted as ready for the Pulitzer Prize in journalism.

What's worse, this wingnut favoritism means that readers get many more conservative takes on every topic than they get liberal ones (all the major "liberal" newspapers are full of Republican writers and of course all the major conservative newspapers are chock full of them). The lessons learned from the marketing campaign of the Iraq war should have warned the Times of the serious consequences of this.