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November 12, 2007


From the woodshed school of writing, Slate's jack Shafer spanks NYT op-ed writer, Roger Cohen.

Roger Cohen Is Entitled to His Opinion

But there's no excuse for his lazy writing.

Whom the gods would destroy they first give a newspaper column.

It would seem to be a simple task to buff one's reflections, observations, and opinions to an 800-word sparkle twice a week, yet the job cores the skulls of all but the stoutest, most resourceful writers. The perceptive reporter turns into a bar-emptying bore, the meticulous stylist into a pompous hack, and the shrewd thinker into a merchant of flapdoodle.

This ruination threatens to claim Roger Cohen, who joined the New York Times op-ed page's rotation last summer when Nicholas D. Kristof took book leave.

For evidence, Shafer puts the critical spotlight on some pretty sappy stuff:

As Cohen jettisons his internal editor, the information content of his columns approaches zero. His Nov. 1 column, "Afghanistan at the Brink," datelined Kabul, dares the reader to wade through a mush of platitudes without so much as a prize for reading the whole thing. He writes:
With Afghanistan at a tipping point, the next U.S. president will face an enduring challenge here of immense proportions. He or she must level with the American people, in a way President Bush never has, about the real burden of an attempt to build two countries from scratch at once. That burden can no longer be borne by military families alone, however much Iraqi extrication is achieved.

Tipping point … the next U.S. president … enduring challenge … immense proportions … must level … the American people … the real burden. Does Cohen pay the Scotty Reston estate royalties for his copy?

Posted by stevemack at 05:25 AM | Comments (63) | TrackBack

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