Is the New York Times suddenly concerned with facts in its opinion pieces?
Such appears to be the case as information concerning the firing of conservative columnist Bill Kristol begins to surface.
Makes you wonder if such a standard will be required of the Times' liberal contributors given what the Daily Beast reported moments ago:
A source close to the Times familiar with the decision not to renew Kristol’s contract makes clear that his neoconservative ideology and viewpoints were not a problem—Kristol’s proximity to key Washington players ranging from Bush and Cheney to John McCain (whom he supported in 2000) was considered a distinct plus. His leading advocacy of the Iraq War also added to his appeal. Kristol was viewed as a mover and shaker whose ideas had ready impact on the political firmament in Washington.
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.”
Interesting. Makes you wonder why Times columnist Paul Krugman's well-documented misrepresentations of economic data -- oftentimes exposed by Gray Lady ombudsmen, no less! -- don't make editors queasy.
Yet, even this might be a red herring:
Tough as this was for Kristol’s promoters, he might still have survived as a columnist had it not been for an attitude of casual and reflexive disloyalty he publicly displayed towards The Times itself. A good example came in an appearance with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show on October 30. Here’s the way Editor and Publisher described it:
“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.”
That, apparently, was the last straw for the Gray Lady.
Now that makes more sense, doesn't it?
Of course, the delicious irony is that the Times can't even get the reason it fired a columnist right.
Fact check on aisle three!