There was much hullabaloo earlier this year when the New York Times hired political pundit Bret Stephens away from the Wall Street Journal.
Some on the Right hailed the move, explaining cheerfully that the paper's massive audience would be exposed further to reasonable and well-articulated conservative positions. Other less-politically inclined commentators commended the Times for its commitment to true diversity of thought in the newsroom. The paper itself was, of course, terribly proud of the hire.
On Thursday, Stephens penned a column titled "Repeal the Second Amendment."
Ah. So, the Times' shiny new hire has authored a column arguing the exact same position as the paper's editorial board.
So much for diversity of thought.
"I have never understood the conservative fetish for the Second Amendment," the column's opening line reads.
Well, that's an interesting sentiment coming from someone who said on July 19, 2016, after a French woman and her daughters were stabbed by a Moroccan man: "Prediction: In two years Europeans will clamor for their own 2nd Amendment. Concealed carry."
Obviously, predicting something isn't the same thing as endorsing it. But it's confusing to see Stephens evolve from saying attacks on civilians would lead to pro-gun legislation to "I have never understood" the Right's support for the right to bear arms.
The column doesn't improve after its opening line. Stephens goes on to argue that more guns mean more murder and less safety. He also posits that the Second Amendment would do nothing to repel attacks from North Korean leader Kim Jung Un or Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"I wonder what Madison would have to say about that today, when more than twice as many Americans perished last year at the hands of their fellows as died in battle during the entire Revolutionary War," Stephens concluded.
"My guess: Take the guns—or at least the presumptive right to them—away. The true foundation of American exceptionalism should be our capacity for moral and constitutional renewal, not our instinct for self-destruction," he added.
The Times' most recent attempt to bring "more voices" to its opinion desk was exciting while it lasted. The timing of the Stephens hired signaled an important evolution in media. It signaled certain newsrooms had at long last recognized their massive ideological blind spots, and that they were working to remedy the sad fact the press is basically clueless about life West of the so-called Acela Corridor.
Maybe Stephens was never really all that conservative to begin with; maybe the Times has a corrupting influence. Whatever the case, it's clear the paper will extend the leash only so far for differing ideas.
If the Times hired Stephens with the idea that he would act as some sort of conservative counterbalance to the rest of the opinion pages' many, many liberal voices, they ought to consider getting their money back.