Uh, let it be known that Kristol is no (younger) Safire. (As Safire aged, his columns became less, shall we say, serious or credible).
But apparently it wasn't just me slamming Kristol's first Times' column. TNR's Gabriel Sherman writes:
Kristol's debut column on January 7, a breezy dissection of Mike Huckabee's candidacy, was roundly panned in the journalism community. (The Atlantic's James Fallows remarked on Kristol's "breathtaking banality.") Among other problems, Kristol misattributed a quote from Michael Medved to Michelle Malkin-proof, some said, that his other responsibilities would result in his "mailing in" his Times copy.Wow, and it seems like even conservative, right-winger Bill Safire himself was against the hiring:
Times staffers felt Kristol just wasn't a very good writer. "Having a robust conservative voice on the page is a good idea. But you want quality," one staffer said. "In general, he's mediocre. He doesn't seem like the best choice, and the first column was crap."
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."But perhaps the saddest, most depressing bit of news in the piece is the conjecture that Sulzberger hired Kristol because he's afraid Rupert Murdoch will in due time clean the Times' clock with the Wall Street Journal. OK, so the way Arthur decides to confront Murdoch, or to compete with his new purchase, is to hire his lightweight dopes in order to move a step closer towards making the once highly-respected Times into a cartoon version Rupert would approve of...? Look, Art, you're not picking up any new right-wing readers who forever regard the sheer logo of the Times as symbolizing "commie" and "pinko" and yet you will lose more moderate and/or liberal readers -- like me.
You see? A net loss all around. Is it any wonder the Times has been heading downhill for years?