Clark Hoyt, public editor of the New York Times, has contracted a case of the crazies. This public editor malady consists in (a) obsessing over the nasty email they get instead of the reason for the nasty mail; (b) picking unrepresentative samples of that email to make a point about free speech or fairness. He writes:
Of the nearly 700 messages I have received since Kristol’s selection was announced — more than half of them before he ever wrote a word for The Times — exactly one praised the choice.
Rosenthal’s mail has been particularly rough. “That rotten, traiterous [sic] piece of filth should be hung by the ankles from a lamp post and beaten by the mob rather than gaining a pulpit at ANY self-respecting news organization,” said one message. “You should be ashamed. Apparently you are only out for money and therefore an equally traiterous [sic] whore deserving the same treatment.”
Kristol would not have been my choice to join David Brooks as a second conservative voice in the mix of Times columnists, but the reaction is beyond reason. Hiring Kristol the worst idea ever? I can think of many worse. Hanging someone from a lamppost to be beaten by a mob because of his ideas? And that is from a liberal, defined by Webster as “one who is open-minded.” What have we come to?
So the issue is no longer the completely crazy choice of Bill Kristol for the Times op-ed page, but rather the nastiness of "liberal" email and the long-suffering editors of the New York Times. I believe we have changed the subject–a nutpicking red herring.