The New York Times, the so-called "paper of record," adds to the record of how torture architect John Yoo got that Inquirer column:
Harold Jackson, The Inquirer's editorial page editor, said he was surprised by the sudden delayed anger directed his way over Mr. Yoo. He said the decision to hire a columnist was his, but that "Mr. Yoo was suggested by the publisher," John (sic..er, that should be Brian-ed.) Tierney.
"There was a conscious effort on our part to counter some of the criticism of The Inquirer as being a knee-jerk liberal publication," Mr. Jackson said. "We made a conscious effort to add some conservative voices to our mix."
The NYT also spoke with our CEO:
"What I liked about John Yoo is he's a Philadelphian," Mr. Tierney said. "He went to Episcopal Academy, where I went to school. He's a very, very bright guy. He's on the faculty at Berkeley, one of the most liberal universities in the country."
To critics of the hiring, he said, "The most important speech to defend is the speech you hate," and he said there were not all that many critics. "I've gotten more mail recently on our making our comics smaller than I have on John Yoo."
I kind of thought they'd already dispelled that "knee-jerk liberal" thing by hiring Rick Santorum, Michael Smerconish, etc., but maybe that's just me. Two other quick rebuttal points (as I was cited in the Times article but neither called nor interviewed) would be that a) no one has ever said anything about denying Yoo the right to speak freely but this is about giving a megaphone to this man, out of about 4 million Philadelphians, who advocated -- successfully! -- for the United States of America to undertake torture amd b) there are plenty of principled, thoughtful and interesting conservative voices out there, along the lines of Andrew Sullivan, whose moral clarity on this particular issue would have brought some honor to 400 North Broad Street.
Here's a good rule of thumb: Newspapers should protect free speech, but should project moral vision.