Since we have been somewhat critical of some of the recent hires made by the NYT‘s opinion section, it seems only fair to link to this searching memo from opinion editor James Bennet:
Here at the New York Times, we believe that all sides of the story should be tolerated and explored, from white supremacists being actually kinda cool if you think about it to people who believe that saying college campuses should be less PC is somehow an interesting use of 1,000 words. That’s why we’re expanding our editorial staff to include more dipshits. Because everyone, no matter how intellectually lazy their conservatism, deserves a column in our newspaper.
By the end of the year, we aim to have 200% more dipshits writing columns for us. As long as you are a Ben Shapiro knockoff who can string together the words ‘the intolerant left’ and occasionally criticize Trump, you have a home here our opinion pages. Because this is what conservatism is now, and we have to respect that.
Why do we hire dipshits? It’s simple. After the 2016 election, we got yelled at a lot by right-wingers. How could you report such negative stories about President Trump by printing the words he says? Why don’t 100% of your stories talk about Hillary Clinton’s emails, rather than just the ones on the front page? They had a point. So, despite the fact that throughout the last year the right has decided they hate everything from Keurig to the NFL, we have decided to do the journalistically correct thing and capitulate entirely.
Whoops, sorry, wrong link. You can read it here. My favorite bit:
Don’t get me wrong: We’re not just letting a thousand flowers bloom. We are picking our contributors with care [sic], looking for people who share Times standards for fairness and intellectual honesty and originality, who believe in empiricism and the essential equality of all human beings.
Predictably, the debate about Stephens has focused on whether he is a “climate denier.” That label, which has taken on such weighty culture-war implications, is mostly symbolic and mostly a distraction. Despite what people like Stephens like to say, climate change is not a religious doctrine. Attitudes toward it need not be binary, belief or apostasy. Different people might draw different conclusions from the available information.
But just saying that doesn’t get us very far. What matters is not whether Stephens deserves a particular label, but whether he is honest, and makes good arguments, about what is an extremely important subject.
And when he discusses climate change, Stephens uses incorrect facts and terrible arguments. At a time when we desperately need a conversation about climate change more sophisticated than “is it a problem?” he makes the debate dumber.
In all these examples, a similar theme emerges: Stephens just doesn’t seem to have thought much about climate change. He’s enacting the rote conservative ritual of groping around for some reason, any reason, to a) justify inaction and b) blame liberals, in the process saying false things and making terrible arguments.
Let’s ponder this a moment. The question is not whether Stephens has said false and misleading things about climate change in the past. If you believe the work of NYT reporters, then yes, he has. His latest column indicates that his rethinking on the subject remains inch-deep.
The question is whether it matters — whether dismissing climate change as a “mass hysteria phenomenon” is, or ought to be, disqualifying, below any reasonable “bar for intellectual honesty and fairness.”
…I forgot the lowest-hanging fruit:
Nothing says “empiricism” like “Mary Rosh!”