I’ve long held that Frank Bruni was the worst columnist at the Times. Yes, yes, you all are going to argue that other columnists are worse. But see, you are wrong and that’s because they at least serve constituencies. They may be annoying or bad or evil constituencies. But they exist and need servicing. David Brooks is the rich Republican who tut-tuts at fascism but still wants his low taxes. Tommy Friedman is the businessman who plays a lot of golf and likes to think he is worldly but in fact knows almost nothing. Maureen Dowd is for those who think politics are entertainment. You have to have conservatives at a large paper and that’s what Douthat is for. Kristof is for squishy-headed liberals who think J.D. Vance once had something useful to say.
But what constituency does Frank Bruni serve? He does nothing well. I get that vapid centrism is a thing, but he’s not good at that and there’s lots of places where that is dished out tastier and more interesting. He was a fine food critic, though it was quite notable that his response to Occupy Wall Street was to review $300 meals served two miles away. He was horrible as a politics writer before his food gig and he was horrible after. I’ve long assumed that he basically represents the Sulzberger family’s POV because I can’t think of a single other reason for his existence. He’s now leaving the Times for some university gig and so he decided to go out the way that only Frank Bruni could go out–apologizing to Ted Cruz for being mean to the scumbag senator from Texas.
I’m not even going to block quote it. It’s so bad. You can read it if you want. But this is Bruni (and the entire elite media complex) in a nutshell. You see the rise of fascism. You see characters who are genuinely horrific human beings rise to positions of great power. You make a one-off comment that maybe this is a bad idea. But then you remember that BOTH SIDES DO IT and you feel bad. Did I just violate my core life belief that I have to be “neutral,” whatever that means? That I have to hold centrism not as a series of political positions I actually believe in but as an ideology in itself that shifts depending on the weather?
Well, that’s Frank Bruni for you. Maybe he and Cruz can bond over a $500 bottle of wine the next time Lyin’ Ted is in Sodom. I’m sure it will work out great for the Bruni and Sulzberger types in the end, when the fascists take over and the Times is seen as the Paper of Evil.