Monday, December 31, 2007

The NYT Shows Its Cojones

The New York Times has added a new columnist--a conservative. No, this is not a weak token member of the opposition like Alan Colmes. Instead, the new columnist is heavyweight William Kristol, one of the leading lights of the conservative movement. Kristol is editor and co-founder of The Weekly Standard, an influential conservative political magazine, and appears regularly on Fox News Sunday and the Fox News Channel.

The New York Times is a liberal paper. But it is now also home to two of the most well-respected conservative writers alive: Kristol and David Brooks. This is great news, especially if it is a harbinger of future decisions by other news organizations.

The only hope we have for restoring a spirit of bipartisanship and unity in the U.S. is to learn again to listen to the opposing side. However, we live in a time when many people get all their news from virtual echo chambers, be they Air America or Fox News. Many of us can go months without hearing one opposing view--we can have all of our media tailored to our preformed ideas.

This is why I heartily applaud the Times' decision to include another conservative columnists in its liberal pages. Liberal readers will now be exposed more often to opposing views, and I hope this exposure will lead to a renewed dialogue in American politics.

Not long ago, we had such a thing as a Reagan Democrat. Today, I can't imagine such a beast. Polarization in politics has led to ossified, visceral opinions on each side--opinions that won't change, that can't change, because the holders of those opinions never hear the other side.

I hope this decision begins a procession of intermingling of right and left, of conservative and liberal, which can lead (imagine) to the two sides actually listening to each other.

And maybe now Fox News will start respectfully giving air time to liberals like Paul Krugman or E. J. Dionne. I eagerly await the imminent announcement.

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