The NYTimes hired a new opinion columnist?

Given their track record, pardon me for expecting the worst.

Also, hey look, they hired David French, meeting my very low expectations.

French served as a senior counsel for ADF, a legal advocacy group that has opposed any expansion of LGBTQ+ civil rights as an attack on so-called “religious freedom.” ADF has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

During his time as an ADF counsel, he defended a Georgia graduate student who sued her university after being told that her anti-gay “Christian beliefs” were incompatible with the standards of her desired profession as a psychological counselor. The student considered homosexuality an “immoral” “lifestyle choice.”

French signed onto a 2017 religious right document called the “Nashville Statement,” which said God designed marriage to be only between a man and a woman. The document also stated “it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism,” and called transgender identity and homosexuality a sin and “at odds with God.”

I seriously wonder how their hiring meetings operate. I’ve participated in a few here at the university, and they always being with a meeting with HR, where they go over our criteria, which are typically stuff like, “must teach organic chemistry,” with an HR person to remind us that nothing about our search criteria excludes women and minorities, and then when we’ve got a preliminary list of candidate for phone interviews, that list is sent to HR where they inspect it for bias (“why is your list only white men?”), and after we winnow the list down over the phone, we send it to HR for approval before we invite anyone for an in-person interview, while carefully justifying each exclusion (“did you drop this person from the pool because they have an accent?” “Heck no, it’s because they want to do quantum neurochemistry and we don’t have the facilities.”) Every thing is about making sure we do all our selection on the basis of assessment of ability.

The NY Times, on the other hand, seems to have a simple process in which they look for a conservative white dude, and then a Sulzberger rubber-stamps the name. “Oh, he’s a gormless bigot? Love him already.”

They still pay David Brooks for his babbling. Every choice they made after that is suspect.


  1. wzrd1 says

    So, in your version of the world, who is allowed to have counsel?
    That said, it’s likely that you’re right keeping low expectations.

  2. ANB says

    Two “old white men” I do read (on occasion) and value are Paul Krugman (with NYT) and Robert Reich (for The Guardian). Oh, and then there’s Pharyngula.

  3. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Why bother hiring an actual person? The NYT should just get an AI, set it to “autocontrarian” and name it Grunt McTurdbucket and it can slop out opinion columns for free for life.

  4. nomaduk says

    wzrd1@2: Everyone is allowed counsel, even Nazis at Nuremberg and Mafiosi being tried for murdering potential witnesses. Outside a courtroom, however, there’s no reason why anyone should pay any attention to anything they have to say.

  5. hemidactylus says

    @4- UnknownEric the Apostate

    It’s probably good thing NYT is heavily paywalled then, so I avoid clicking their articles. WaPo might be better overall but I wouldn’t know because Bozos has to pay for his superyacht. He’s probably happy Muskrat’s antics have lowered his status on the douchebro radar screen.

  6. rblackadar says

    @2 — Let’s be clear: Senior counsel for a legal advocacy group is not the same thing as public defender making sure some mafioso gets a fair trial.

  7. birgerjohansson says

    A more positive news item, with a person with a turbulent past emerging as much better than expected (thus opposite to David French):
    John Lydon -aka Johnny Rotten- is throwing his hat into the competition for the Irish entry to the Eurovision song contest.
    His contribution is the song “Hawaii”, a love letter to his wife who suffers from Alzheimer’s.

    I also recently found out he tried to out the horrible Jimmy Savile, but got censored by BBC (who wanted to protect their investment).

    It is nice when people turn out to be more complex and more noble than expected. Myself I might regress to an angry old fart who swears at kids.

  8. StevoR says

    @ ^ whywhywhy : That sounds a lot like the pro-gas, (another non-renewable, polluting fossil fuel) lobbyists and the LNP here in Oz.

    @2. wzrd1 : Everyone is allowed – to eb onthe media and writing op-eds for papers etc .. but why are some (notably old white men) just always over-represented and given huge platforms they haven’t earned by past performace whilst others (POC, women, Indigenous people, LGBTQUIA etc..) are denied and considered “shrill” or “grating” ior “token” or “diversity hires” or whatver and mocke dand not allowed equal shares or significant platforms to speak from

  9. John Morales says

    Meh. The job description is “Opinion Columnist”. So it’s just someone’s opinion.

    I did have a quick look, and the consensus is that it leans left, but not that much:

    Of course, this is the USA, so, um, there’s a bit of an offset.

    (Also, at the end of the day, the enterprise is there to make money, and clearly it feels this will increase profits however indirectly)

  10. Bruce says

    Shorter NYTimes:
    Hey, the ADF has been called a “Hate Group”.
    How can we get in on that?

  11. gijoel says

    Why did they hire him? Because they make him money. They’d hire Hitler if they thought it would sell more papers. Given how far right the “right” has shifted in the last ten years they’d probably make a fortune.

  12. chrislawson says


    Those websites’ methodology is complete crap, and their underlying misapplication of stats is made clear by their use of the word “bias” as synonymous with “political position”. These sites are not in the business of giving overarching analysis, they are in the business of promoting fake balance, the old “bothsider” garbage. Anyone who thinks the NYT has a leftist bias is off in the clouds. Yes, they have some moderate left-leaning columnists like Paul Krugman, but on the right they have Ross Douthat, David Brooks, Bret Stephens, Bari Weiss, and now David French.

    So this is the real bias at NYT: if you want to join the op-ed team as a left-leaning writer you have to be an exemplar of well-informed, evidence-based argument; if you want to join the op-ed team as a right-leaning writer you just have to be known for your countributions to the right-wing culture war misinformation machine.

    This is the same NYT that abetted the Bush administration’s misinformation campaign leading up to Gulf War 2 and helped Bush’s betrayal of Valerie Plame, that repeatedly demonised Bernie Sanders in his primary contest with Hilary Clinton (that is, perpetually mocked his age, his appearance, his mannerisms while almost never addressing his politics), that at the height of the George Floyd protests ran a Tom Cotton op-ed calling for protestors to be suppressed by the military and included numerous false claims that the NYT itself had previously debunked in reportage. This is NOT happens when a newspaper has a left-wing bias. (Note, this is not to deny that the NYT has made editorial screwups favoring leftist politics, but the point is that if the paper had a leftist bias, it would never have published those pieces.)

  13. John Morales says

    chrislawson, those were representative sites; I only spent a very little time looking.

    Are you claiming that the actuality is not to be known, and that other sites rank them the other way?

    Also, remember what I noted about the offset; in the USA, what would be considered center-left would be considered center-right here in Oz, for example.

    (USA! USA!)

  14. patricklinnen says

    chrislawson @16-
    Well the NYT did have have plenty of practice belittling HRC ( her appearance, age, and mannerisms as well as her policies) when she was the First Lady as well before, during, and after her primary campaign against Sanders. They left the demonizing to their stable of right-wing and centralist hacks on the OP-Ed and Style pages.

  15. Rob Grigjanis says

    chrislawson @16: There was also the despicable hatchet job on Al Gore in the run-up to the 2000 election. That, along with the rightwing (including the Supreme Court) ratfucking, almost certainly cost Gore the presidency.

  16. says

    Actually, I think the NYT’s thought-process here is more like “Oh gosh, anything to avoid being accused of a liberal bias! ANYTHING!!!”

  17. StevoR says

    @15. gijoel : “Why did they hire him? Because they make him money.”

    Isn’t that the wrong round though its and because they think he makes them more money? Admittedly they no doubt pay him so both are true.

    I wonder if that’s really true though – the first way round – or whether a more diverse, interesting surprising op-ed writer choice might actually bring them more and get them more positive attention and plaudits?

  18. chrislawson says

    John Morales@17–

    Yeah, outside of glaringly obvious examples I don’t think we can measure political bias in news sources easily, and certainly not using the tools those sites use. To truly measure bias, you’d need to have reliable information on editorial decision-making, not meaningless polls of random people about how left or right wing they think a headline is. But some cases are so glaring that you don’t need sophisticated analysis any more than you need a guru physician to certify death for a body with a hundred bullet wounds.

    Based on what we know of the NYT, I am sympathetic to Chomsky/Herman’s view that the NYT isn’t specifically left- or right-biased, but biased towards sucking up to power structures. That is, the NYT is politically conservative-centrist. (And by conservative, I mean in the traditional sense, not the current corruption of the word.) And it has brought on board this raft of utterly appalling editorialists to tap into reactionary right-wing America, which is now a significant power structure. It’s not that the NYT shouldn’t report on reactionary politics, but it shouldn’t be giving it editorial privilege — and I feel the same way about the way the NYT uncritically printed Walter Duranty’s lies for Stalin in the 1930s.

    The fact that these “media bias review” sites insist on pounding complex positions onto a simple left-right axis is in itself a part of their lie, a marketing tool to justify their own dismal existence.

  19. KG says

    So this is the real bias at NYT: if you want to join the op-ed team as a left-leaning writer you have to be an exemplar of well-informed, evidence-based argument; if you want to join the op-ed team as a right-leaning writer you just have to be known for your countributions to the right-wing culture war misinformation machine. – chrislawson@16

    Well, be fair! If they applied the same criteria to right-leaning writers as they do to left-leaning ones, they wouldn’t be able to hire any of the former!

  20. StevoR says

    When it comes to the political & social Overton window, McCarthyism wiping out the left wing in the USA and damaging it greatly here and in a few other nations – plus the malignant influence of Murdoch’s toxic reichwing media propaganda empire has one hell of a lot to answer for and has cast a very dark and miserable shadow indeed. Now Trumpism (arguably (?) the latest guise of fascism) threatens to do more severe damage to politics globally as a result too.

  21. doctorworm says

    You’re probably right. Most of these establishment media outlets live in perpetual terror of being perceived as biased, so they swing ever rightward to counter accusations from the right; the centrist wing of the Democratic Party has a similar strategy. What they just Can. Not. Understand is that the accusation is not in good faith, and it hasn’t been for decades! For my entire lifetime and probably longer, the right has used accusations of elite liberal bias as a rallying tactic rather than a reflection of reality. One might think that they would notice that these overtures to the right never actually result in the accusations stopping. Instead, we have Charlie Brown buying Lucy a new football every week.

  22. dstatton says

    The NYT’s statement on the hiring is infuriating. No mention of course about his anti-LGBQ work, and they claim that he is “compassionate”. Ugh.

  23. says

    Ever since Thomas Friedman, the original “idiot who thinks he’s a genius” (long before the Musk-like villain portrayed in “Glass Onion), I have resolved never to subscribe to the NYT. Their choices of op-ed pontificators have mostly gotten even worse since he first started blathering on their pages.

    There’s a great satire of Friedman by a philosophy prof I know:

  24. mcfrank0 says

    Someone recently posted online a clip of a ridiculous conversation between two NYT columnists “David” and “Bret”. I assumed it was French, but it turned out to be Brooks.

    (It might have been here, but I don’t have the time to check. My dirty kitchen with a freezer desperately need defrosting are calling me.)