It was Apocalypse Now, or at least Fairly Soon, on the front page of the Sunday Review in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Contributing opinion writer James Atlas asked, in poetical fashion, "Is This the End?" (Graphic by Owen Freeman.)
The subhead saw a dire fate for the city as inevitable: "Whether in 50 or 100 or 200 years, there is a good chance New York City will sink beneath the sea." Why? You guessed it: climate change. Atlas also managed to sneak in unfair criticism about President Bush's response to vague terror warnings.
The March 7 Newsweek (NewsBeast) features an article titled "David Brooks Wants to Be Friends," but there's more bridge-burning than friend-making in this interview with James Atlas. Of course, he came up in Washington through conservative opinion journalism from the National Review, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and The Weekly Standard, but "something has changed." Conservatives are now more uncivil. Well, either that -- or his paychecks are now signed by PBS, NPR, and The New York Times:
But Brooks insists that something has changed in the past decade. Political discourse had grown coarse, he laments. Gone is the civilized era when “you had liberals and conservatives instead of Republicans and Democrats,” a time “before the parties devolved into teams,” each espousing its own “values” in voices grown increasingly shrill. For a high-profile journalist, he seems eager to keep his head down—it’s not a posture easy to maintain when he’s on TV every Friday night and his byline appears twice a week on the op-ed page of The New York Times.
“One of the toughest things about being a columnist is that people hate you,” he said. Hate is perhaps too strong a word; it’s not a sentiment Brooks tends to evoke in people. On the contrary, his balanced views are seen as strengths, not weaknesses.