Reasoning With John Tierney

tierney_john.jpgDays before his column goes behind the $$$$ wall, the NYT’s John Tierney sat down with the fun gang over at Reason Magazine for a dicussion of libertarian values and his vision as one of the designated liberal-haters on the op-ed page.

It begins with a classic question thought by many an interviewer: “I see you’ve got Reason lying on your side table there; is that like the awful wedding present put out on the mantle when Aunt Millie comes to visit, or are you a reader?”

Then eventually they get around to the good stuff: “One could probably sum up in a sentence or two what, generally, Maureen Dowd or Tom Friedman or Paul Krugman do, but you don’t seem to have an obvious schtick or beat.”

Tierney: “I don’t really have a beat the way some columnists do. I guess I tend, maybe too often, to write things from a libertarian outlook, but I want to do stuff that isn’t really political. I like writing about science and social science; I like trying to do humor, writing about stuff in daily life. I at one point wanted to be a mathematician. My father’s a college professor and that kind of life appealed to me. But I ended up in journalism because I just realized I’m too much of a dilettante. I majored in American Studies, so you can do history and English–I’m just not much of a specialist; I like to dabble in different things.”

As for his reaction to starting the column? “I think everyone who starts in this job is surprised by how much animus you can inspire, how many people have the time and energy to tell you what a dolt you are.”

We imagine it’s a particularly big problem for David Brooks