Tuesday, February 18, 2003

# Posted 11:08 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

HATCHET JOB: This past Sunday, the New York Times' Magazine featured Robert Kagan -- FYI the conservative foreign affairs expert -- in its "Questions For... " column.

While the accompanying photo was quite flattering, the interview itself crossed the line from being tough to being a hatchet job. Instead of asking serious questions to a serious thinker, the Times' correspondent resorted to ad hominem attacks.

In four consecutive questions, the Times tried to get Kagan to admit that he was a chicken-hawk. In responding to this discredited charge, Kagan was polite enough not to ridicule his interviewer. But that's Bob for you. He's just a nice guy.

The Times' other line of attack consisted of a less than surprising but more than pathetic effort to tar Kagan as chauvinist, in both the sexist and nationalist senses of the word. The title of the interview, "Europeans are Sissies", says it all.

Kagan, of course, never used the words. He is far too sophisticated to resort to name-calling. And the Times should have known that, because the occasion for the interview was the publication of Kagan's new book, Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order.

I'll end this post with a caveat: Perhaps the "Questions For..." column is consistently tough on all its subject, not just conservatives. But there is no question that the Times has a bad habit of publishing soft bios of hardcore leftists such as Leslie Cagan and Bill Ayers. (Note the publication date on the Ayers piece.)

If the Times wants to protects its reputation as the paper of record rather than the paper of the left, it better clean up its act.
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