The Times' Public Editor Clark Hoyt was disturbed by the thuggish left-wing reaction to Bill Kristol's once-a-week column, but still thinks it was a mistake to pick Kristol as the paper's token conservative columnist because of Kristol's past sharp criticism of the Times over the paper's decision to print classified information about U.S. anti-terrorist programs.
In his Sunday Week in Review piece "He May Be Unwelcome, but We'll Survive ," Hoyt described the left-wing vitriol that greeted the announcement of Kristol's gig, revealing the political lean of people who rely on the Times for their news, who evidently see the paper as sacred liberal ground.
"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.'"
"....I agree with their effort[NYT Publisher Arthur Sulzberger and EditorialPage Editor Andrew Rosenthal]to address an Op-Ed lineup that, until Kristol came aboard, was at least six liberals against one conservative who isn't always all that conservative [that would be David Brooks - ed.]. I've heard all the arguments against Kristol - he is 'wrong' on Iraq, he is overexposed as editor of The Weekly Standard and a regular commentator on Fox News with nothing new to say, he is an activist with the potential to embarrass The Times with his outside involvements - and one of them sticks with me:
"On Fox News Sunday on June 25, 2006, Kristol said, 'I think the attorney general has an absolute obligation to consider prosecution' of The New York Times for publishing an article that revealed a classified government program to sift the international banking transactions of thousands of Americans in a search for terrorists.
"Publication of the article was controversial - my predecessor as public editor first supported it and then changed his mind - but Kristol's leap to prosecution smacked of intimidation and disregard for both the First Amendment and the role of a free press in monitoring a government that has a long history of throwing the cloak of national security and classification over its activities. This is not a person I would have rewarded with a regular spot in front of arguably the most elite audience in the nation."