This is not the first time I have wondered whether someone gave Jack Shafer, Slate’s media critic, a hard time on the playground when he was a kid. For whatever reason, Shafer seems unable to resist occasionally punctuating his thoughtful criticism with the most bizarre, mean-spirited personal vitriole. Whenever he loses control, I feel like calling him and assuring him that he no longer has to worry about the kid who kicked him in the shins in 1962.
Well, Shafer has hit a new low.
Unless he is being tongue-in-cheek, or celebrating April Fool’s Day with a satrical impersonation of cruelty, I may never had read anything quite like “Are Times Publishers Born Stupid?” In the piece, Shafer takes a look at past and present New York Times publishers and asks whether they may represent a line of inherently stupid people.
Jack: Question the management decisions made by Times publishers. Question whether their views are adequately nuanced and informed. Question whether they have adapted to the challenge of new media or remained stuck in a defunct economic model. And feel free to characterize any statement or action of any past or present New York Times publisher as flat-out and astoundingly stupid.
But for you to write a piece about whether someone was “born stupid” only begs the obvious question:
Were you born cruel?
By the way, I would still read any column Shafer writes about who has made what mistakes at the New York Times, about who has said or done stupid things.
But Tuesday’s column was beyond cruel. It was peculiar. It was crazed.