One New York Times columnist complains about another New York Times columnist’s column about yet another New York Times columnist… via a letter to the editor published in the Times.

Sort of like IM’ing your cubicle-mate to ask her to turn down her music rather than swiveling your chair around and making the request yourself? Actually, I guess this may be more like IM’ing one cubicle-mate to object to the way he asked your other cubicle-mate to turn down her music. Maybe it’s most like sending an all-company email (which you then leak to Romenesko Letters) complaining about the way one cubicle-mate insisted your other cubicle-mate turn down her music?

Regardless. Is public editor Clark Hoyt really asking an opinion columnist — nay, all opinion writers — to turn down her/their volume is how Gail Collins closes her letter to the public editor in which she further reduces Hoyt’s already too-narrow criticism last week of Maureen Dowd’s work (Hoyt’s criticism being that Dowd went “over the top” in applying her patented “gender-twist” approach to column-writing to Hillary Clinton and Collins’s reduction of that being that only Hillary Clinton supporters are Maureen Dowd detractors and, more broadly, that any criticism of Dowd’s work can be dismissed with something like, to quote Collins, “[Dowd’s columns are] “particularly painful to those who are on the receiving end” of her “wit.”

If Dowd’s columns are “painful” might it be because her approach to writing about gender and power and politics is, as we’ve said before, “facile and destructive” and, by now, tedious?

And now Hoyt has responded to his colleague’s letter of complaint — through a reporter at the New York Observer. Hoyt assures his colleague Collins that he wasn’t suggesting that she and all Times columnists must write their columns at a reasonable volume or some such (“If I had meant to say that I would have said it directly,” says Hoyt). His point was that “the language in this line of columns [specific columns involving Hillary Clinton] was over the top, it was repetitive and it was relentless.”

Which is itself “language” we’d apply to Dowd’s approach to op-editorializing in general.


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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.