[guest post by Dana]
David Brooks, conservative columnist for the New York Times discusses the negative impact of reading comments directed at him:
“I used to read them, but it was just too psychologically damaging,” Brooks said in an interview with Yahoo News’ Katie Couric at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Tuesday. “So then I would ask my assistant to read them.”
Brooks was shocked at the volume of “punishingly negative” comments when he joined the Times in 2003.
“It was the worst six months of my life,” he said. “I had never been hated on a mass scale before.”
The conservative columnist received more than 290,000 emails during his first six months at the left-leaning paper. “The core message was, ‘Paul Krugman is great; you suck,’” Brooks recalled.
Although the negative comments are damaging, Brooks describes why he remains at the NYT:
He has unprecedented freedom and job security. Times columnists, Brooks said, are treated like “hothouse flowers.”
“I’ve never attended a meeting at the Times,” he said. “We can write about anything. I’ve been at the Times for over a decade, I’ve never had a performance review. We can go anywhere we want. And we are just left alone.”
He also addresses off-the-record meetings with the president:
In them, Brooks says he’s seen President Barack Obama become increasingly “pissed off” with Republicans, Democrats and the media during his second term as he’s become more “acutely aware with the limits of the office.”
During Obama’s first term, the vibe was decidedly different. “He’d be carried in on chariots,” Brooks joked, with then-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel “throwing rose petals.”
Not that Brooks has made many friends in the White House. The “Obama people” are respectful when they tell him, “We really like you. … It’s so sad you’re a complete and total idiot.”
I am somehow disappointed by Brooks’s soft shell regarding the negative comments. While I can understand it would be difficult to read awful stuff about oneself, day in and day out, don’t you just wish one of the very few conservative columnists from such a noted liberal paper would have more steel, and push back? To not use the amazing platform he has to its fullest, seems a shame. There are excellent conservative writers and thinkers (I’m looking at you, Patterico) that I believe would not only withstand the barbs and push back with decisive and solid conservatism thus expanding the discussion, but would thrive because of it.
Note: I used conservative writer in the body of the post, because that is how the original article referred to him. However, note that it is consistently italicized.
I used conservative writer in the title ironically, but I should have put it in scare quotes. What can I say? I had just gotten home from a day at the beach, I was tired, it was late, the dog ate my homework… Updated now.