It took Anne Applebaum's piece today to really fire me up about this crazed Susan Estrich witch hunt against Michael Kinsley over the lack of female columnists in the editorial section of the major dailies. (Ms. Estrich is mad that Michael Kinsley of the LAT does not carry her syndicated opinion column). If you haven't been following, here is a recap from different sources:
- Instapundit - here and here
- Slate - see Jack Taper here about his former boss
- Los Angeles Times - here
- Real Clear Politics - here from Susan Estrich and here
- Washington Post's Howard Kurtz here
What has me so annoyed is that Ms. Applebaum finds it necessary to write on this issue instead of what she would prefer to write on such as the status of the IRA and how it may apply to Hezbollah in Lebanon. That sounds like a very fascinating read that I hope the WaPo will still have her run with. Instead, she is effectively having to answer to Ms. Estrich and, without naming any names, the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd's whinny piece.
While I don't always agree with LAT Editorial Manager Michael Kinsley, I have a great deal of respect for him. The tirade that Susan Estrich has launched against him both personally and publicly is deplorable. Under Mr. Kinsley's leadership, I found SLATE to be an interesting read. My favorite columnists to read in the old days of SLATE were, in order:
- Anne Applebaum (exceptional foreign reporting and analysis especially with regard to Eastern Europe and Russia)
- Mickey Kaus (see my description to the right)
- Dahlia Lithwick (don't always agree, but excellent legal review of major legal cases and viewpoints I don't naturally see)
- Emile Yoffe
- Timothy Noah (read Mr. Noah less now, but enjoyed him often under the Kinsley days)
Two of the above happen to be women. As Jack Tapper of Slate points out with dripping irony to Ms. Estrich:
"In his long, miserable chauvinist career, Kinsley has done more to block women, their views, and their professional aspirations than any journalist I know. Just ask Dorothy Wickenden, Ann Hulbert, Jamie Baylis, Emily Yoffe, Helen Rogan, Suzannah Lessard, Jodie Allen, Judith Shulevitz, Jodi Kantor, Margaret Carlson, Dahlia Lithwick, Kathleen Kincaid, Lakshmi Gopalkrishnan, June Thomas, and others"
I want quality commentary, and the readership of the LAT, NYT, WaPo and others want quality commentary. Susan Estrich's attacks may be giving her the attention she craves, but is doing little to advance her cause. As Ms. Applebaum puts it:
"As for Estrich, I don't know much about her at all, except that she's just launched a conversation that is seriously bad for female columnists and writers. None of the ones I know -- and, yes, I conducted an informal survey -- want to think of themselves as beans to be counted, or as "female journalists" with a special obligation to write about "women's issues." Most of them got where they are by having clear views, knowing their subjects, writing well and learning to ignore the ad hominem attacks that go with the job. But now, thanks to Estrich, every woman who gets her article accepted will have to wonder whether it was her knowledge of Irish politics, her willingness to court controversy or just her gender that won the editor over...
In the paragraph I have remaining (this, girls, is truly the hardest thing about newspaper columns: making the idea fit the space) I'm not going to discuss the thorny question of whether some affirmative action policies do some good, of whether newspapers matter anymore anyway, or even return to the subject of Sinn Fein. Those are complex, gender-neutral issues, and I've now used up my allotted weekly slot on a "women's issue" instead. Happy, Susan Estrich?"