Friday, January 25, 2008

Bill Kristol and the New York Times

The New York Times's hiring of Bill Kristol didn't reach the point of outrage with me. The Times Jayson Blair and Judy Miller embarrassments have shown the Paper of Record is not infallible. The op-ed pages have been on a painful downward spiral for years. Kristol's hiring makes perfect sense.

Gabriel Sherman's New Republic article provides insights into Arthur Sulzberger Jr. hiring Kristol. The short version is he is scared to death of The Wall Street Journal. What Sulzberger fails to understand is the least successful section of the WSJ is the op-ed page. The Wall Street Journal is one of the few newspapers that makes money off of paid subscriptions. The op-ed pages are free on Opinion Journal. Peggy Noonan's prose about magical dolphins saving Elian Gonzales is one of the worst op-eds ever written. Sulzberger should be more concerned about competing with the WSJ's reporting. Conservatives will always hate The New York Times.

It is widely known that Kristol wrongly attributed a Michael Medved quote to Michelle Malkin. That is a hell of a way to make a debut on Murderers' Row.

"He doesn't know what it's like to write for The New York Times," one staffer said. "So, welcome to the NFL."

Kristol is William Safire's replacement. John Tierney wisely abandoned The Times op-ed pages after producing many comedy masterpieces. Sulzberger brought Kristol in to make a splash. Unfortunately, the result was a splat. Safire agreed with public editor Clark Hoyt's harsh assessment of Kristol.

The Times' public editor, Clark Hoyt, acknowledged the Kristol kerfuffle in his column on Sunday, January 13, writing of Kristol's hiring: "This is a decision I would not have made." When reached by phone, Safire told me: "I saw the excellent piece that the public editor wrote the other day, and that pretty much tells the story."


At least Kristol has Judy Miller publicly backing him.

Eventually, The Times will fire Kristol either because of a scandal or the neoconservative pundit can not meet the increasingly lowering standards of the op-eds pages. The Times should have gone after George Will. I suspect Will is smart enough not to get near Murderers; Row.

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