If you keep up with the old war horses of the establishment-left media you've no doubt noticed that the New York Times Opinion page has turned into something of a raging shit fire in the past few months. You're not alone; everyone in their peer group as well as ordinary readers are definitely noticing the shift. It was not always perfect, but its flaws tended to be blandness and the reflexive promotion of "Look, we have right-wingers too but we made sure they went to prep school and Yale and are well-scrubbed!" types like Ross Douthat and David Brooks (pale imitations of Buckley and Safire).
Lately, though, they've bought into the theory that Edgy and Provocative are inherently good. It's shameless pandering for clicks, attention, and the Hottest of Takes in one of the few venues in which readers, and I daresay the country, legitimately do expect a little better than that. They hired (for 8 hours) some Raconteur Milo-type who turned out to have a thing for being sorta racist and apologetic for Nazis (How do you hire someone without even skimming their back-tweets?) and a bunch of other mediocre Twitter Celebrity types to add to their steady diet of white male Never-Trump conservatives and Paul Krugman. Then they aired AIPAC cheerleader (and Twitter own-goal machine) Bari Weiss just in time for her to embarrass herself on the larger platform. It's a real shitshow. This pile of trash from David Brooks after the most recent school shooting typifies the new approach.
The news side of the paper, apparently, is getting embarrassed. Editor James Bennet responded, in part:
We publish dozens and dozens of op-eds a week. Look at them as a whole and you’ll see the breadth of voices there. Sure, Erik Prince wrote in our pages. You know who else has written in our pages? Bernie Sanders, and not just once.
OK. Do not make this about Bernie Sanders. This is about the Editor of the Editorial Board of the Paper of Record presenting Blackwater founder / Mercenary Enthusiast Erik Prince and Senator Bernie Sanders.
Erik Prince is Kevin Spacey's villain character in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. He was given the space to write what amounted to an advertorial for "private military contractors" in place of the normal military and law enforcement structures of a sovereign state. It was self-serving, intellectually vapid, and frankly pretty revolting.
Bernie Sanders is a United States Senator and one-time presidential candidate who has been invited to contribute to the Opinion page to talk about policy.
These are the mental gymnastics the Both Sides centrist approach requires in order to be internally consistent. Hey, sure, we're loaded to the gunwales with apologias for white nationalists, reactionary conservatism, and the absolute worst actors in the free market, but it balances out because sometimes we have an elected official talking about policy proposals that are to the left of some mainstream Democrats. See? Balance.
The Times remains one of the best-staffed news operations in the world. If they don't right the ship on the editorial page quickly, there is a nonzero chance it could sink and take the rest of the paper with it. Adding fresh voices is a good idea; editing the page from the perspective that all opinions deserve airing and are equally valid is exactly the kind of nonsense that has ruined god knows how many other media outlets desperate to please everyone by adhering to the dumbest possible conception of Objectivity.