Decline of the Times
The official announcement for Kristol:
William Kristol, one of the nation's leading conservative writers and a vigorous supporter of the Iraq war, will become an Op-Ed page columnist for The New York Times, the newspaper announced Saturday.
Mr. Kristol will write a weekly column for The Times beginning Jan. 7, the newspaper said. He is editor and co-founder of The Weekly Standard, an influential conservative political magazine, and appears regularly on Fox News Sunday and the Fox News Channel. He was a columnist for Time magazine until that relationship was severed this month.
Mr. Kristol, 55, has been a fierce critic of The Times. In 2006, he said that the government should consider prosecuting The Times for disclosing a secret government program to track international banking transactions.
In a 2003 column on the turmoil within The Times that led to the downfall of the top two editors, he wrote that it was not "a first-rate newspaper of record," adding, "The Times is irredeemable."
In the mid-1990s, Mr. Kristol led the Project for the Republican Future, an influential policy study group. Before that, he was chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle.
A native of New York City, he holds a bachelor's degree and a doctorate from Harvard.
His father is Irving Kristol, one of the founding intellectual forces behind modern conservatism.
Now I said I was looking for a reason Kristol was hired. This announcement tells us that Kristol is a "leading conservative" and "Iraq war supporter," hardly unique features on the current Times op-ed page. It also tells us his resume. Then there's his criticism of the Times itself. I think this is the reason they hired him. Rather than hiring a competent ombudsman or demanding more from their journalists, the paper has decided to outsource criticism to a serial liar and conservative critic that doesn't actually believe in any standard of journalistic integrity, but rather subscribes to the notion that news sources are allies when they tow the line, treasonous enemies of the state when they do not. And towing the line depends on who's in the White House, apparently. Finally, the announcement links Kristol to his father, as if to say, "we disclosed it, so it's not nepotism."
Obviously there is no case I can make against Kristol being a Times columnist that changes the fact that they can hire and fire who they want. I just don't know why they feel they need to hire someone who is consistently wrong about matters of national importance and holds the "liberal media" in such contempt. Is Kristol's voice unique? Hardly. Arguably they could have hired a different type of conservative, as others have, but instead they chose to go with a political operative. I really don't understand. Between this and their weak review of Liberal Fascism, I can't honestly say what kind of paper the New York Times wants to be. Maybe they're just trying to capture as many markets as possible in an increasingly fractured media universe. I've always thought papers should have some integrity and take a real political position. Apparently that is out of vogue these days. Depressing stuff.
UPDATE: Jonathan Stein at the Mother Jones blog makes the best and most concise case against Kristol, certainly better than what I failed to articulate here.
UPDATE II: Via Editor and Publisher:
Times' editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal defended the move. Rosenthal told Politico.com 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?"
Naturally, this raises a few questions. First, aren't there already "opposing views" on the op-ed page? What is unique about Kristol's opposing views? Second, describing Kristol as a "serious, respected conservative intellectual" is indefensible. Has Rosenthal actually read what Kristol writes? It's all an act. He dresses respectably, talks respectably, but is essentially a provocateur. He's Ann Coulter with a thesaurus. And once one decides to be intellectually dishonest, one simply ceases to be an serious intellectual. Everybody but the Times seems to know this. How can they be this clueless?