Once, after Frank Rich cited an article of mine in one of his columns, a colleague told me this was "cause for serious self-examination." But I can't help it, I like the guy. And he has been on a real roll lately. Which is why I think we can excuse Rich for writing a pretty mediocre column yesterday. But there's one thing that he shouldn't get a pass on--and that's this graceless cheap shot he took at U.S. News while (rightly) filleting Michael Barone:
In an exuberant class by himself is Michael Barone, a ubiquitous conservative commentator who last week said that journalists who trash Palin (more than a few of them conservatives) do so because “she did not abort her Down syndrome baby.” He was being “humorous,” he subsequently explained to Politico, though the joke may be on him. Barone writes for U.S. News & World Report, where his 2008 analyses included keepers like “Just Call Her Sarah ‘Delano’ Palin.” Just call it coincidence, but on Election Day, word spread that the once-weekly U.S. News was downsizing to a monthly — a step closer to the fate of Literary Digest, the weekly magazine that vanished two years after its straw poll predicted an Alf Landon landslide over Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936.
Given what's going on in the media industry, I think it's bad form, to say the least, for a journalist to essentially root for the demise of any publication these days. And let's get real: U.S. News's problems have nothing to do with Barone and everything to do with the broader ills plaguing the magazine business. What's more, if U.S. News does go under, Barone is one of its relatively few employees who'll make out fine, as I'm sure he'll be able to retreat to his redoubt at Fox News, not to mention his Almanac of American Politics franchise. I realize the air at the NYT op-ed page is pretty rarefied (although not as rarefied as it once was), but Rich might want to show a little more solidarity with his fellow ink-stained wretches, lest he become Jeff Jarvis.