On Bob Herbert: The Problem Is Us

Kevin Drum highlights this Why Is Bob Herbert Boring? piece by T A Frank that I find ok, but lacking in self examination. Consider this:

All fair enough. Nevertheless, many of my sources who criticized Herbert's column underscored their admiration for the work of writers like Jason DeParle and Katherine Boo, who also illuminate the lives of the poor. Granted, these writers operate outside of the column format—in longer articles and books—but their ability to generate interest in Herbert's chosen subjects suggests that elite readers aren't incontrovertibly apathetic about the lives of those less fortunate.

The idea that Jason DeParle and Katherine Boo are big agenda setters seems laughable to me. Sounds like the people who mentioned them were name dropping in the way people do to seem deeper than they are.

I have read Bob Herbert since he was a columnist at the Daily News and no one doubted Herbert was an influential columnist or thought he was boring then. Of course, he wrote about New York mostly then.

Frankly, I think Drum and Frank let themsleves and the "elite" of this country off the hook. The problem is them. Not Bob Herbert. And yes, I am a Bob Herbert fan and read almost every column he writes.

P.S. Will Washington Monthly be doing a "Why Is Nick Kristof Boring?" column? Just wondering.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Agree with you on Bob Herbert (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by hellskitchen on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 08:31:06 AM EST
    I've always enjoyed his columns.

    During the height of my exasperation with the decline of the news value of The New York Times, I asked the public advocate why it was that Bob Herbert, a columnist, was the only person on the Times who was covering a story that deserved to be in the news section but was nowhere to be found.

    Bob Herbert is a gem.  I suppose we should be grateful that they haven't silenced him.

    Bob Herbert is great (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by andgarden on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 06:14:18 PM EST
    But a few years ago, I actually did remark to myself "I never read Bob Herbert." I'll make an effort to correct that.

    Trying to figure out if I would read (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 12:32:04 PM EST
    more or less of the NYT if I cancelled my home delivery subscription and resorted to browsing the paper on line.  

    As A Long Time (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 10:02:33 PM EST
    Subscriber I cancelled my delivery and stopped reading the print version after Judith Miller and Michael Gordon knowingly passed on government propaganda.

    After the wall business, I stopped going to the site unless someone linked an article.

    I did miss the pictures in the print version, though. That is the only reason to keep the paper subscriton as far as I am concerned.

    It seems better that the NYT has dropped the stupid wall.


    Someoone here linked to a front (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 10:38:05 PM EST
    page photo I erroneously described.  Wonder how they did that.

    Agree with you that the problem is the readers (none / 0) (#2)
    by janinsanfran on Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 12:31:11 PM EST
    not Herbert.

    And as for the comments, the most excellent NYT reporter on poor people, bar none, is Nina Bernstein. Of course, her poor people are most often women, so not so popular.

    Style over content is ... (none / 0) (#4)
    by Meteor Blades on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 02:53:53 AM EST
    ... I sometimes think, in the top 10 items that are a plague on our times. Herbert is no great stylist. Not everybody can be a James Wolcott or digby or Lewis Lapham or, even Pat Buchanan (whose opinions suck, but who can write a helluva good column).

    Clarity and good material is what I most want in a columnist. If s/he can also write like H.L. Mencken, so much the better.

    Thanks for this, BTD.