Not Kristol Clear

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At the end of 2007, the New York Times announced that it had hired Bill Kristol as an op- ed columnist. A curious development, to say the least. The Times has traditionally (at least since it hired Bill Safire back in the ’70s) had one conservative columnist in house. Now it has two, David Brooks being the other.

The Times has two op-ed columnists worth reading (sometimes) – Brooks and Tom Friedman. Now, with the addition of Kristol, it will still have two. Kristol joins left-wing mediocrities Frank Rich, Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, etc. Perhaps he was hired to provide some ideological balance to the silliness. Or maybe the Times just hopes to sell more papers.

The Times already suffers from a sagging reputation. While its best reporters continue to provide readers with solid news coverage, it has been guilty of awful editorial mistakes. Recall the Judy Miller mess, or that kid (I forget his name – Jason something?) who got promoted way beyond his skill level, and then went on to write made-up stories. Add to these the paper’s heavy ideological slant – a slant that too often obscures the facts of an issue – and you have a journalistic behemoth with feet of clay. Adding Kristol only makes the behemoth look more wobbly. No one on the Right has been more consistently wrong in his prognostications than the smirking Kristol.

Kristol’s motive for joining the Times is even harder to make out. He has criticized the paper often, and in no uncertain terms, calling it “irredeemable.” He even urged that it be prosecuted for revealing a U.S. program tracking international banking transactions. So why is he taking the job?

This marriage is so mixed that dark and complex motives seem necessary to explain it. On the other hand, perhaps it’s so very simple. What we’re seeing is indeed what we’re getting: two whores coming together.

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