Cockburn can’t help but notice the New York Times’ new, so-called “conservative” columnist is one whose writing tends to agree with that of the publication’s liberal columnists.
The Times has announced that David French will transition from writing at the Dispatch (which he helped found) and the Atlantic to their opinion pages come January 30. French, declares the Times, “embodies factual and intellectual clarity, moral seriousness, and a spirit of generosity toward others and humility toward oneself.”
“Humility” Cockburn gets. It’s not easy to “flip-flop-flip” on gay marriage without eating a healthy serving of crow. But “factual and intellectual clarity” is not how Cockburn would describe French’s columns. Nor would he, as the Times does, describe French as “sincere in his ideological commitments.”
French, remember, in a debate with Sohrab Ahmari, called Drag Queen Story Hour “one of the blessings of liberty.” And while French purports to be a free speech warrior, under his leadership, the Dispatch became a partner of Facebook’s “US fact-checking program,” sold as “a key piece of [Facebook’s] strategy to reduce the spread of misinformation.”
Ahmari’s beef with French is storied. In a 2019 First Things piece titled “Against David French-ism,” Ahmari argued, “Though culturally conservative, French is a political liberal, which means that individual autonomy is his lodestar.”
French’s devotion to “maximal autonomy,” wrote Ahmari, naturally leads libertines to insist that everyone must “positively affirm [their] sexual choices, [their] transgression, [their] power to disfigure [their] natural bodies and redefine what it means to be human, lest your disapprobation make [them] feel less than fully autonomous.”
Ahmari’s treatise led to a lengthy, in-person debate with French, in which the two sparred over the conservative movement’s strategy.
Cockburn asked a few conservatives what they make of French’s move to the New York Times. “French claims to be a Republican but his move to the New York Times proves that he is in the globalist elitist uniparty,” said Roger Stone. “There is no differentiation between the views of David French and the effete, out-of-touch, elitist NYT editorial board. He will fit right in!”
“David French has emerged in recent years as the American punditry class’ foremost house-trained, faux-‘conservative’ voice,” said Newsweek‘s Josh Hammer. “It is thus wholly unsurprising that the wokesters at the New York Times would deem French a good fit to be their shiny new controlled-opposition columnist.”
Ryan Girdusky, author of the National Populist newsletter, simply said: “David French? Never heard of her.”