Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Times signs write-o-matic Brooks. David Brooks is a fine writer, a provocative thinker, a sensible conservative, and a hell of a nice guy. He is also dangerously overexposed.

You can read him in the Weekly Standard, the Atlantic Monthly, Newsweek, the New York Times Book Review, the New York Times Magazine, the Times of London, and on the Wall Street Journal editorial page. You can see him on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. You can hear him on All Things Considered. Several years ago he wrote a briskly selling book about the nouveau riche called Bobos in Paradise. If he were a pop star, his agent would tell him to lay low for a while and cultivate an air of mystery.

Today we learn that he will soon begin writing an op-ed-page column for the New York Times. The news comes in the oddest of places: buried inside a Times feature today on summer jobs. Brooks is quoted on the subject, and his forthcoming new gig is revealed as an afterthought. (Note: After posting this item shortly before 9 a.m., I was immediately informed that Brooks's appointment is not news. Must have happened while I was on vacation.)

I'm sure Brooks is not looking for Media Log's advice, but I'm going to offer some anyway. Brooks can be a terrific op-ed columnist. But he's going to have to devote most of his attention to it and cut way back on the outside work. The Times job will be the most important thing he does.

Besides showing that the liberal media are far more open to conservative voices than the conservative media are to liberals, Brooks's addition will be welcome because he's so good at what he does. But if he doesn't cut way back on his outside work, he runs the risk of becoming not a writer, but a word processor.

Slick Howie. The Howard Dean described this morning by Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh sounds like someone who is pragmatic to the point of being cynical.

Lehigh doesn't draw the analogy directly, but that whatever-it-takes attitude, unattractive though it may be to those who have to interact with him personally, calls to mind another politician whom many Democrats are pining for these days: Bill Clinton.

Joe Fitz, paragon of objectivity. The funniest thing about Boston Herald columnist Joe Fitzgerald's screed (sub. req.) today is that you have to pay to read it online. The second-funniest thing is his lame-o attempt to wag his finger at the Episcopal Church for confirming Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, as the bishop of New Hampshire.

Fitzgerald claims Delphic powers of insight, writing, "To more objective observers ... Robinson's ascendancy is an abomination, which is precisely how Scripture describes the kind of lifestyle he maintains." I guess Fitzgerald considers all that love stuff attributed to Jesus as a bunch of '60s-style hooey.

Even better, Fitzgerald quotes Martin Luther King Jr. as an authority for his side of the argument. Give Fitz this much: he knows King isn't going to complain.

Media Log update. Due to some recent changes in's software, I am now going to upload each morning's items as one post, rather than as individual tidbits. It'll save me a minute or two, and make it easier to post items in the order that I want.

This should only create a minimum of hassle to websites seeking to link to Media Log items. It is also the practice followed by many other weblogs, including that of the prolific Andrew Sullivan.

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