By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Bill Kristol and the New York Times parted company yesterday, one year after he began writing a weekly opinion column that became a high-profile target for his detractors on the left.
But the conservative commentator, who edits the Weekly Standard and appears on Fox News, won't lack for media exposure. He will write a monthly column and occasional pieces for The Washington Post, as he did before joining the Times.
Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt called Kristol "very smart and very plugged in," saying Kristol would be an influential voice in the coming debate over redefining the Republican Party. "It seems to me there were a lot of Times readers who felt the Times shouldn't hire someone who supported the Iraq war," said Hiatt, adding that he wants "a diverse range of opinions" on his page.
The Times hired Kristol for a one-year run during the 2008 campaign, and Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal told his paper that the arrangement was ending by "mutual agreement." Rosenthal would not say whether the Times plans to hire another conservative. Kristol, who did not return calls yesterday, told Portfolio.com in November that he was "ambivalent" about continuing, noting that the weekly column was "a lot of work" and "I have a lot of things going on."
Even some journalists sympathetic to Kristol say his Times writing was often predictable and not his best work, and noted that he had to correct three factual errors.
Kristol's earlier punditry for The Post was also controversial. In July 2007, he wrote in the paper's Outlook section that "George W. Bush's presidency will probably be a successful one." He also said the Iraq war could be won and that "military progress on the ground in Iraq in the past few months has been greater than even surge proponents like me expected."
In a typical missive, liberal blogger Arianna Huffington called it "the single most deceptive piece of the entire war." Kristol said then that his views had not changed and "it would really be pathetic to adjust one's analysis based on public opinion."