letters to the editor

Notes from Our Online Readers

Readers weigh in on who should fill the slot on the New York Times op-ed page
May 1, 2011

With the recent departures of Frank Rich and Bob Herbert from the New York Times’s opinion pages, and a new section (Week in Review) to fill with thoughts and views, editorial-page editor Andrew Rosenthal will surely be looking for new hires. In our March 29 News Meeting, we asked our readers, Whom should he call?

If they’re looking to replace Herbert as something of an in-house conscience, my vote goes to John B. Judis. He’s been writing brilliantly about policy and politics for a few decades, and never fails to make illuminate any topic he tackles. His smartly progressive/center-left orientation is in the best tradition of The New Republic, his current journalistic home, and perfect for the current Times op-ed page. —John Ettorre

Here’s a novel idea, how about someone who didn’t work for Ramparts or the Daily Worker/People’s World. —Mike H

If they can inhale all those blogging guys (whom they profiled in a boys-only bloggers profile), they certainly can choose among the crew of gifted women blogging on issues of all kinds. PunditMom for one. Go read her Politics Daily columns—or Jill Miller Zimon—and Kelly Wickham whose moving posts on education, race, and family would stand up against anything there at present. Or Robin Marty or Jessica Mason Pieklo, both of whom I work with at Care2. My Twitter feed is full of gifted women watching the world. They aren’t that hard to find. —Cynthia Samuels

When The Washington Post unveiled on its website the option of clicking on “left-leaning” or “right-leaning” columnists, Ben Adler, in his March 17 CJR piece, “WaPo’s New Opinion Tabs Miss the Mark,” took aim at the Post’s simplistic dichotomy. One reader responded this way:

The Post’s new tabs are particularly baffling to a foreigner, because the split is based on the American definition of left and right, which means the center is somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun. Writers like Richard Cohen and David Ignatius are mere echo boards for the ubiquitous message of the Washington establishment. Their purpose is to say “I’m a liberal but…” (Cohen) or “I’m an independent but…” (Ignatius) before repeating the conventional Beltway wisdom.

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A far better way to split the columnists would be to put all those who supported the Iraq war on one side, and all those who opposed it on the other. Then readers looking for a track record of being right could ignore the former category. Unfortunately, that would include over 90 percent of the Post’s opinion writers. —Kevin Robb

The Editors are the staffers of the Columbia Journalism Review.