The Times' new poobah of all things opinion, writes Nikki Finke in today's LA Weekly, "is the personification of a riddle wrapped in an enigma when it comes to the right-versus-left political maelstrom that's sucking subscribers out of the newspaper."
He's either guilefully ignoring it or guilelessly unaware of it.
Take, for instance, his agreeing to a wide-ranging interview with me soon after his September 13 promotion to replace kicked-to-the-curb (and sent-back-to-Seattle) Michael Kinsley. Martinez, a scant one-year LAT veteran, comes off so cocksure that he candidly spills how he's "definitely liberal on social issues" and "unapologetically supportive of gay marriage and impatient in the sense that this needs to be done now" and says "yes" to affirmative action. But he also notes that in the context of his previous employer, The New York Times, "I was on the conservative end," and "famously" the only editorial-board member who supported the Iraq war.
"Because of that, a lot of people think I'm more right-of-center than I necessarily am," he says. "I also may be less reflexively anti-business than a lot of earnest liberal editorial writers think they need to be."
Yet when I reveal to Martinez that the Times' phone subscription solicitors are telling no-way-in-hell refuseniks that the paper's "political content" is changing to include "a lot more conservative voices and conservative columnists," he sounds rather nonplused. "I didn't know that," Martinez responds quietly.
"Your reaction?" I press.
"I'm not aware of that," he sidesteps diplomatically. But he should be.