Sad News from the Gray Lady

by Michael Walsh

Frank Rich, the former “Butcher of Broadway” and reliably unreadable op-ed columnist, is leaving the paper to go to New York Magazine. From the WSJ:

New York Times columnist Frank Rich is leaving the newspaper to join New York magazine as an essayist, ending a three-decade career at the Times.

Rich, who has been an op-ed columnist since 1994, will write a monthly essay on politics and culture that will anchor a special section he will oversee as editor-at-large.

Rich’s hire adds an influential voice in political journalism to the weekly magazine and reunites him with New York editor-in-chief Adam Moss, who previously was editor of the New York Times magazine and oversaw the paper’s culture and style coverage, among other roles.

According to paidcontent.org, Rich’s departure may have something to do with incipient changes in the Times’ op-ed format:

The changes come as the NYT prepares a major overhaul of the Week in Review section. Rich’s weekly 1,500-word column (previously most columns were around 800 words) was part of an expanded Op-Ed page that the Times introduced in the Week in Review section in 2005.

Since then, the proliferation and acceleration of commentary on the web has called into question the role of a weekly opinion section. 

Business writer Joe Nocera will move into the op-ed mix in April.

Suggestion for Andy Rosenthal, whose work I have liked and admired since I met him in Moscow back in 1986 on the Vladimir Horowitz Magical Mystery Tour of the Rodina: Time to think out of the box. I mean way out of the box — the way your dad did when he hired William Safire.

That did wonders for the Times’s credibility and liveliness back then and hiring a similar unapologetic and even contentious conservative — a rose of reason surrounded by the thorns of Krugmanism — would do the same.

Just think of the letters you’ll get.