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Ross Douthat, New New York Times Columnist

by David Gura
Mar 12, 2009

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David Gura

A few months back, after William Kristol penned his final column for The New York Times, ending a one-year experiment, New Yorker staff writer George Packer, who was critical of Kristol's intellectual competence and work ethic equally, prepared a list of conservatives from whom he hoped the editorial page editor of The Times, Andrew Rosenthal, would choose Kristol's successor.

Yesterday, Richard Perez-Pena, a media reporter for The Times, confirmed rumors that had spread on blogs all afternoon: Ross Douthat, a senior editor at The Atlantic magazine, would join a small-but-influential club, populated by Charles Blow, David Brooks, Roger Cohen, Gail Collins, Maureen Dowd, Thomas Friedman, Bob Herbert, Nicholas Kristof, Paul Krugman, and Frank Rich.

Douthat, like several editors at The Atlantic, is a wonderful, incisive blogger. I was happy to read that he plans to continue to blog from the Washington bureau of The Times.

I scanned the Web for reaction to Douthat's appointment. Most of what I read was positive. (To be fair, it wasn't news enough for the home pages of The Weekly Standard or the National Review this morning, seemingly.) Is Packer satisfied?

He calls it an "excellent choice," which "shows that the Times has begun to see its conservative columnist as something more than a quota hire," but he hopes that Douthat will improve as a writer, that he will excise Washington policy-speak from his columns. "My one piece of unsolicited advice," he writes, is to "talk regularly to people who don't read blogs (like this one)."

What do you think of the newest Times columnist? Have you read him in The Atlantic? How important a perch is The New York Times editorial page these days? Do you agree with Packer, who says that the newspaper's columnists "seem unable to contend with the earthquake rolling under our feet"?

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