Times Announces New "Conservative" Columnist, Underlines He's a Moderate

Ross Douthat (pictured) is the new young face of conservatism at the Times. But how conservative is he?

Times reporter Richard Perez-Pena announced the news that the Times "has hired Ross G. Douthat, a 29-year-old conservative writer and editor at The Atlantic, as an Op-Ed columnist." But is Douthat (pronounced DOW-thut) really a conservative, or is he the kind of conservative only the New York Times could love? Their own story says pick (B), a sort of kid brother of David Brooks:

His writing steers away from partisanship - he frequently criticizes Republicans - or doctrine, showing a concern for income inequality that is usually the terrain of more liberal writers. On abortion, he said in an interview, "I'm sort of a squishy pro-lifer," interested in finding areas of compromise. He initially favored the war in Iraq, but later opposed it.

Would the New York Times announce it's hired a "liberal writer" for the op-ed page and then declare they "steer away from partisanship or doctrine," are "squishy" on a "woman's right to choose," and "frequently criticized Democrats"? Why aren't they honest and report they've hired another "Republican moderate columnist"?

Maybe he won't always write something moderate. But Douthat was also hailed by David Frum in his "Limbaugh cult" Newsweek cover story as someone like him, someone who has the courage and wits to tell conservatives the Reagan era is toast:

"We're at the end of the Reagan era. We're at a point in time when we're about to start redefining....the nature of the Republican Party, in response to what the country needs." He's not a "Reagan Republican," but a "post-Reagan Republican."

Conservatives might suggest that's about as acceptable to hear as black liberals being told that the Obama era is "post-racial."

- Tim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center.