Once again, Salon's Alex Pareene has brightened my holiday season with his mean and wonderful Hack List, an "annual list of the worst of political media." (I posted about last year's installment here, and the 2010 version here.) This year, instead of targeting only individuals, Pareene takes on "the 10 media outlets that are hurting America" -- starting with The New York Times, which, he says, is "the best paper in the country" but "has a columnist problem" (namely, most of their columnists are lousy). But individuals judged to be hacks don't escape ridicule. Particular attention is paid to Thomas Friedman ("a national embarrassment...a fraud and a simpleton, whose job is to sell comforting platitudes to rapacious plutocrats and those who aspire to be rapacious plutocrats") and Nicholas Kristof ("crusading opinion columnist hero"). Ah, but the Washington Post is worse (our own E. J. Dionne excepted, of course). "The Post opinion section," Pareene writes, "exemplifies the most aggravating feature of the American punditocracy: that there are simply never any professional consequences for being constantly wrong or dishonest." Except, of course, repeat appearances on the Hack List, which will have to do.
Mollie Wilson O’Reilly is editor-at-large and columnist at Commonweal.