The unbearable whininess of New York Times columnists

It is extraordinary how brittle are the sensibilities of people who have major media platforms. I recently highlighted the absurd over-reaction of New York Times columnist Bret Stephens to a tweet by an until-then obscure professor who called him a bedbug. This turned out to be a beautiful example of the Streisand Effect because Stephens’ ridiculous response went viral and was used as an example by many (including me) about how these who often use their platforms to denounce those whom they accuse of silencing the speech of others, have feelings that are hurt so easily that they denounce any critics of themselves, however innocuous. It reveals what sheltered lives they live, in a cocoon of like-minded people who pat each other on the back at their social gatherings.

Ashley Feinberg writes that the Stephens’ column was not unique in its pathetic whininess and has done us all a favor by creating a hilarious compilation of all the times when NYT columnists, not just Stephens, have similarly over-reacted. I have said many times that when it comes to these people, we should ignore the labels they give themselves such as liberal and conservative. They are all members of the pro-war, pro-business party and so their similar reactions to what they see as the barbarians at the gate laughing at them should come as no surprise.

Feinberg says that many times, like in the recent Stephens case, a single comment or a tweet by a powerless person is enough to set them off. Here are some examples.

Frank Bruni went online, saw a column from a college student that was rude to white people, generally speaking, and decided to feel personally victimized and attacked. So personally victimized and attacked that this column—a column from, again, a single college student—warranted a rebuttal in a major national publication.

Bari Weiss was inspired to report and write a giant declarative trend piece, in which she portrayed a group of wildly popular conservative media figures as the silenced and downtrodden great thinkers of our day, because she wrote a bad tweet and people got mad.

[About Stephens and bedbugs] Also, speaking of people getting very mad, did you know Nazi Germany made a concerted effort to get lots of people very mad at entire groups of people, like the Jews? One of the ways they did this was by using dehumanizing language, such as referring to Jews as insects or even “bedbugs.”

All of which is to say, this particular column is about Bret Stephens desperately trying to validate his preposterously thin skin by using the pages of the New York Times to compare a formerly unknown Jewish professor to Joseph Goebbels. God bless him.

It is a pretty funny piece.

These columnists should be mocked incessantly until they realize that when they enter the public sphere, and they have very big megaphones to give vent to their views, they have to take their lumps just like the rest of us.


  1. says

    What amazes me is that after the whole bedbug incident anyone is supposed to take Bret Stephens seriously again, yet the NYT keeps publishing his articles and MSNBC continues to have him on as a pundit people should consider credible.

  2. Matt G says

    I’m finding it harder and harder to take the New York Times seriously. Or should it be The New York Times?

  3. Allison says

    I’m finding it harder and harder to take the New York Times seriously. …

    Oh, I gave up on them a long time ago. I live in the NYC area and used to pick up the copies of “the Times” that other commuters would leave on the train, and my impression was they’re good at seeming deep and thoughtful and all, but if you actually examine the articles, you find that most don’t really show much thinking. And there’s just an amazing amount of fluff, at least in the local edition. As for the columnists — well, I don’t think the editorial page writers for any newspaper are any better at thinking than your average loudmouth at the corner bar.

    Ultimately, the NYT is in the same business as the National Enquirer, most of the differences are due to the demographic the NYT is aimed at: the privileged and would be privileged of New York City, the people who see themselves as better than the common rabble. They want some suitably snobbish paper to flatter themselves and to supply suitably high-brow ideas to impress their fellows. Which also describes the people who work for the paper.

    Which explains its conservatism. Its readers don’t want any serious change, because they benefit from The System, and real change would threaten their position in society.

  4. jrkrideau says

    @1 Tabby Lavalamp

    It appears if you’re a member of the right club you can get away with just about anything. There’s the case of Margaret Wente and her serial plagiarism yet she remained a major columnist with the Globe and Mail for years.

  5. Matt G says

    I started reading the NYT when I first moved to NYC 30 years ago. I thought the conservative columnists were for comic relief -- what they were writing was such obvious nonsense. When David Brooks was hired, readers savaged him mercilessly. Once the lead-up to the Iraq War rolled around, it was pretty clear it wasn’t a “liberal” paper. I’ve been ignoring it for the past 10 years.

  6. lanir says

    I think you always have to be a little critical of stuff written in papers or presented on the news. These shows and papers often present themselves as though they were just relaying facts to their readers and viewers but it’s never that simple.

    Also, if you wonder why the NYT seems to have that overreaction to criticism as a common thread, just imagine what sort of workplace brouhahas would ensue if their fellow employees criticized them in a way they weren’t expecting? When things hit the fan that badly in a workplace it often means one or both parties need to be let go for no other reason than to improve the work atmosphere.

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