This quote mirrors my sentiments exactly:
I was a relatively late newcomer to Frank Rich's genius. I didn't begin to read the Op-Eds until I became a political blogger over six years ago (rivaling Rich's 17 year-long tenure at the Times in blogger years). Later, when that venerable institution made the colossal blunder of trying to put their Op-Ed columnists behind the velvet rope of Times Select, thereby making them available only to paying subscribers, my interest in the Op-Ed, and Rich's canon, really took off. Back then we bloggers would vie to see who could poach Rich's byline first and get the coveted link (and maybe, Oh God, the Big Headline) on Buzzflash when it was still Buzzflash.
Rich didn't have the brutal elegance or write the perfumed poison pen belles letters of a James Wolcott nor did he turn into some tiresome nickname-slinging insider like Maureen Dowd. Somehow, over the course of nearly 20 years, he'd avoided espousing controversial, and bigoted, opinions that would end his career. It's to his enduring legacy that he never suffered the same fate as Helen Thomas.
He nails The Gray Lady to the wall too. Sorry about that visual:
Indeed, not only had the NY Times dropped the ball on that, as it had during Vietnam, but also on 9/11, Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina (.pdf of the original article, not the silently-amended one in the Times' archives), etc. Judith Miller, in fact, was so embedded with the weapons inspectors and the Screaming Eagles that she was practically writing policy and was squarely in the middle of the Valerie Plame outing. And who that follows the Times can forget the fake articles of Jason Blair?
Not only that, to this day they're still censoring the late Molly Ivins because of a PG-13 joke about "chicken pluckers," hardly the grudge that one would expect for a newspaper branded for decades by conservative mouth breathers as being a bastion of liberal propaganda. Like Rich, Ivins, the ultimate liberal pundit, felt the Times was too claustrophobic and creatively stifling.
Much more, many links.