There was much hullabaloo earlier this year when the New York Times hired political pundit Bret Stephens away from the Wall Street Journal.
Some on the Right hailed the move, explaining cheerfully that the paper’s massive audience would at last be exposed to reasonable and well-articulated conservative positions. Other less-politically inclined commentators praised the hire because they said it showed the Times was making a better effort to commit itself to true diversity of thought in the newsroom.
The Times, for its part, was terribly proud of itself for bringing on a new voice.
On Thursday, Stephens penned a column titled “Repeal the Second Amendment.”
Ah. So, the Times’ shiny new hire has authored a column arguing the exact same position as the paper’s editorial board.
So much for diversity of thought.
“I have never understood the conservative fetish for the Second Amendment,” the column’s opening line reads.
Well, that’s an interesting sentiment coming from someone who said on social media last year after a French woman and her daughters were stabbed by a Moroccan man: “Prediction: In two years Europeans will clamor for their own 2nd Amendment. Concealed carry.”
Really, Stephens has “never” understood the Right’s so-called “fetish” for the right to bear arms? He has never understood the desire to defend oneself?
The op-ed goes downhill from there, arguing that more guns mean more murder and less safety. He also argues that the Second Amendment would do nothing to repel attacks from North Korean leader Kim Jung Un or Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I wonder what Madison would have to say about that today, when more than twice as many Americans perished last year at the hands of their fellows as died in battle during the entire Revolutionary War,” Stephens concluded.
“My guess: Take the guns—or at least the presumptive right to them—away. The true foundation of American exceptionalism should be our capacity for moral and constitutional renewal, not our instinct for self-destruction,” he added.
The Times’ experiment in bringing “new voices” to its opinion desk was sort of exciting while it lasted. Short-lived, yes, but somewhat exciting. For some, it signaled that major newsrooms had at long last recognized their massive ideological blindspots. This seemed like an important evolution in media, especially as it came after 2016 presidential election exposed the painful fact that the U.S. news industry has basically no idea how people think West of the so-called Acela Corridor.
But with this Stephens column, it seems the Times is willing to extend the leash only so far for conservative ideas. Then again, maybe Stephens was never really all that conservative.
At any rate, if the Times hired Stephens with the idea that he would act as some sort of conservative counterbalance to the rest of the opinion pages’ many, many liberal voices, they ought to consider getting their money back.