Tuesday, January 27, 2009

“This is William Kristol’s last column.”

Bill Kristol has, at last, been removed from The New York Times. Many of us wondered why the Times ever hired him in the first place, but he's not been fired for being a neo-con nutbag. He's been fired for being a sloppy neo-con nutbag:

The problems that emerged were more fundamental. Kristol’s writing wasn’t compelling or even very careful. He either lacked a talent for solid opinion journalism or wasn’t putting his heart into it. A give-away came in the form of four corrections the newspaper was forced to run over factual mistakes in the columns, creating an impression that they were rushed out without due diligence or attention to factual claims. A senior writer at Time magazine recounted to me a similar experience with Kristol following his stint in 2006-07. “His conservative ideas were cutting edge and influential,” I was told. “But his sloppy writing and failure to fact check what he wrote made us queasy.”
His very last column was a testament to why he should never have been hired in the first place.

He comes out with two crackers in the midst of the current economic disaster:
Conservatives have been right more often than not.
If Reagan’s policies had failed.
There are many of us who think that the current financial situation is a direct result of the deregulation policies which Reagan promoted and the belief that the market was always right and was, somehow, self correcting.

The truth is that the market would never correct itself without regulation.

But I'm quibbling. The real problem with Kristol was that he always essentially wrote the same column. And he did so because he is deeply partisan. New York Times columnists are supposed to report on campaigns rather than advise them, yet it was very clear during the last election that Kristol was doing both.
Kristol and the Times have both insisted the columnist has absolutely no hand in McCain's run.

But a recent report, which raises doubts about those denials, suggests Kristol was instrumental in lobbying for the McCain team to pick Sarah Palin as the GOP's vice-presidential candidate. That would explain Kristol's steadfast support of Palin in the face of so many conservative pundits expressing doubts about her.

Even the McCain campaign began to question Kristol's motives:
As one McCain adviser put it to me: “In the last six weeks there was a remarkable echo. You could listen to arguments made by folks inside of the campaign who were close to Bill Kristol and then open up The New York Times and read them in Kristol’s columns. It was ‘set Sarah free,’ coupled with an agenda designed to appeal to the religious right and the more raucous elements of the party. They got their way often enough, and we started noticing that at many of the Palin functions it was nonstop ‘Sarah, Sarah,’ while John McCain all but vanished. Were they trying to get McCain elected in 2008, or to help Palin on the way to the Republican nomination in 2012? You can’t get yourself into a situation in which anyone can credibly ask that question.”
But, after a lifetime of writing nonsense, he surely reached a new peak when he described McCain's picking of Palin as the act of a “shrewd and prescient gambler.”

It is now inarguable that the decision to pick Palin came across as reckless, and that McCain fatally harmed his election chances when he proposed putting that feisty, but ultimately fabulously under qualified, lady within a 72 year old heartbeat of the presidency.

Seeing what McCain did as the action of a “shrewd and prescient gambler” should have been enough to make The New York Times suggest that it really was time he moved on.

And if that wasn't enough for the Times to think he really needed to go, then there was the small matter of him always holding the New York Times up as an example of all that was wrong, even as they paid his wages:
“Appearing once again on The Daily Show, Bill Kristol, Jon Stewart's favorite whipping boy (‘Bill Kristol, aren't you ever right?’), on Thursday night defended the McCain-Palin ticket, at one point informing the show's host that he was getting his news from suspect sources. ‘You're reading The New York Times too much,’ he declared.

Bill, you WORK for The New York Times!’ Stewart pointed out.
Not anymore he doesn't. And not before time.


Balloon Juice do well to spot this piece of salesmanship from Howard Kurtz. This is his headline:
Kristol Severs Ties With the N.Y. Times.
Ah right, people inside the beltway don't get fired, they "sever their ties" with their employer.


Steel Phoenix said...

He has been picked up by the Washington Post.

Kel said...

It astounds me that someone who gets it wrong as often as he does is still paid such a large salary to pontificate.

Steel Phoenix said...

Sometimes in order to be talked about you have to be wrong. How often to people like you and me blog about people because of how right they are? I bet the majority of his traffic comes from people who link to him as an example of idiocy. You make more money being talked about than being right.

Kel said...

I hadn't thought of it that way SP, but you are entirely correct. I listen to a right wing shock jock over here called Nick Ferrari and I only do so because his views appal me so much.