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Kristolnacht at The New York Times

LNW_kristol-happy [1]An Open Letter to the Editors of The New York Times on the Hiring of William Kristol

Levees Not War is strongly opposed to Kristol’s becoming a New York Times columnist because that paper would give him an even more prominent platform (in addition to his magazine The Weekly Standard and his appearances on Fox News) from which to push for war with Iran as lustily as he pushed for war with Iraq—a ‘regime change’ he believes is going just fine.

The following letter has been e-mailed and snail-mailed to the publisher and editors of The New York Times. Names of executive and managing editors, etc., along with the Times’s mailing address, appear below, along with some choice quotations from the opinings of William Kristol.


Dec. 30, 2007

To the Editors:

The New York Times’s decision to hire as a columnist William Kristol—a writer who is amply on record attacking the Times, usually with a sneer—is as perversely self-destructive as Bush’s 2005 appointment of John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Both are cases of deliberately hiring an antagonist who does not even believe in the fundamental principles of the institution he has been hired to “serve.”

In choosing its columnists, The New York Times has traditionally striven for a balance across the political spectrum—usually writers of no particular ideology. In Kristol, however, you are getting not only a right-winger but a neoconservative ideologue who bases specious arguments on talking points, not on facts or actual investigation. He has been so consistently, persistently wrong on so many issues that it staggers the mind—unless one is a true-believing viewer of the Fox News Channel. (In 2002 he foresaw that war with Iraq “could have terrifically good effects throughout the Middle East.”) Really, you could not hire a more discredited commentator if you chose Dick Cheney.

After leading the fight against the Clinton health care initiative in the early ’90s, Kristol was a cofounder and chairman of the militaristic Project for the New American Century. He dismisses diplomacy and calls for war against Iran with every breath he takes, and claims that the Iranians would embrace a U.S. attack on their country and use the occasion to overthrow their government. (Sound familiar?) When Al Gore won the Nobel, he said on Fox News Sunday, “this man got the Nobel Peace Prize for bloviating about global warming. I mean, it’s a prize given by bloviators to a bloviator for nothing.”

Who at the Times seriously thinks that hiring Kristol is a good idea? Was this a promise made to the Bush White House in apology for having printed Risen and Lichtblau’s 2005 report (a year after it was ready, before the 2004 election) about the government’s illegal wiretapping program? (“Hire Kristol and we won’t crush you”?) If the Times goes ahead with this terrible idea, then you owe moderates and liberals a serious counterbalance. Give us Barbara Ehrenreich two days a week, and Thomas Frank and Joe Conason, too.

This hire, coming after Arthur Sulzberger’s careless remark [2] earlier this year—“I really don’t know whether we’ll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don’t care, either”—makes us wonder, seriously, if the Times is trying to bring about its own downfall. My wife and I have subscribed to the Times for twenty years, and I don’t think we’ve ever been so unhappy with a decision by the paper’s management. It bodes ill.

Mark LaFlaur
Kew Gardens, New York

* * *
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036
phone 212-556-1234

Letters to the Editor : letters@nytimes.com [3]
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., Publisher
Bill Keller, Executive Editor : Executive-Editor@nytimes.com [4]
Jill Abramson, Managing Editor : Managing-Editor@nytimes.com [5]
John M. Geddes, Managing Editor : Managing-Editor@nytimes.com [5]
Andrew Rosenthal, Editorial Page Editor
Clark Hoyt, Public Editor : public@nytimes.com [6]
Scott H. Heekin-Canedy, President, General Manager

* * *

The Nation’s David Corn [7] wrote a strong column when Kristol was appointed 2007 as a columnist at Time magazine (from which the pundit has since stepped down).

The resourceful folks at ThinkProgress [8] have compiled a representative sampling [9] of William Kristol’s comments (with videos).

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