Outside of the many disgruntled ex-colleagues (and a few fans) he left in his wake, Michael Kinsley's relatively brief tenure as chief opinionist at the Times seems mostly forgotten. He invokes the recent past though today at Slate, which he used to edit. In a piece that is mostly about lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the Washington pundit payola issue, for ideological evenness Kinsley also takes a swipe at the MoveOn activists who are organizing a protest of the LAT for dropping Robert Scheer's column (link spotted at Romenesko:)
Liberals, meanwhile, don't seem to trust the power of their own ideas to win without cheating any more than conservatives do. In Los Angeles, liberals have organized an infantile protest over changes in the L.A. Times' op-ed page, urging subscribers to renew for just three months and await further instructions about whether the paper has used that time satisfactorily to expunge itself of deviationism.
As it happens, I was bounced a few months ago from the job of running the L.A. Times opinion pages. So, I am enjoying the fuss from afar. But it's still ridiculous. The premise is that op-ed columns and other opinion pieces are not exercises in persuasion but simple counters: If you have more of them, you win. There is no room for the notion that reading something you disagree with might change your mind, or simply be more enjoyable than repeated ratifying of what you already believe.
Regarding Abramoff, Slate's Tim Noah wrote a piece in April recalling their mutual time at BHHS: "For some time now I've been looking for the right opportunity to boast, casually, that I had the goods on Washington's sleazeball of the moment as early as 1975...Abramoff was a year behind me at Beverly Hills High School. I don't remember that we ever had a single discussion. But I observed, from a distance, that he was kind of a glad-hander. (I had no idea that he was a conservative, but apparently he already was, as I was already a liberal.) And so, behind his back, I began referring to him as 'Abraham Jackoff.' Was it cruel? I won't deny it. Was it adolescent? Of course."