Introducing the world’s best columnist

October 30th, 2006 → 12:07 pm @ // No Comments

Okay, I’m overstating things a bit; I was stymied in my efforts to come up with a headline that punned off of either “Ferris Bueller” or “Win Ben Stein’s Money.” So without further throatclearing: the New York Times‘s best columnist is not Paul Krugman or Tom Friedman or Maureen Dowd. It’s Ben Stein, who’s been quietly penning a column for the Sunday Business section titled “Everybody’s Money.”

I say quietly because Sunday is ugly stepdaughter of the Business department (although recent efforts to improve its quality have resulted in marked improvement). The people who cherish the Sunday Times — you know, the “she reads the Book Review, I do the crossword” people — are the liberal arts, self-styled intellectual types who want to read about books (even if they don’t read books), or want to be up-to-date on the arts world (even if they don’t actually go to museums). Business folk, on the other hand, are not reaching for a door stopper-sized paper on Sundays. They get their news during the actual work-week; that’s why the Wall Street Journal doesn’t even bother publishing on Sundays. (Its recent Saturday edition was created mainly to draw in more women readers.) A recent stilted effort to move the Times media coverage from Monday to Sunday died a quick death when the paper’s media writers staged a mini-revolt.

But I digress. Stein’s column — this week’s was about the total lack of shame in corporate America — isn’t so good because it’s well-written and easy to understand, although it’s both. Its strength lies in the fact that many of Stein’s columns seem to go against what you’d assume Stein’s views to be; a life-long Republican and former speech writer and lawyer in the Nixon administration could reasonably be assumed to be a deranged firebreather (think Pat Buchanan) or at least a reliable conservative (think William Safire). But a surprising number of Stein’s columns decry the greed (and stupidity) or corporate America. What’s more, Stein’s pieces seem more affable than angry. He’s not shouting from the treetops or preaching to the converted, which is the trap most opinion-mongers on both sides of the aisle fall into. He likes money. He likes being well off. But he doesn’t let that, or his political affiliation, blind him to the realities of our current economic environment.

So let me be the first to call for freeing Ben Stein from Sunday’s purgatory. Let’s move the man to the actual Op-Ed page! He’d certainly stand out. And that’d be a good thing.

(As an aside/addendum, Joe Nocera, who was poached from Fortune this past April, may very well be the Times‘s best on-staff columnist. I get why he’s in the paper’s Business section and not on the Op-Ed page…but why, in God’s name, is he relegated to Saturday, the least-read paper of the week? Anyone? Anyone?)

Post Categories: Ben Stein & Joe Nocera & New York Times

4 Comments → “Introducing the world’s best columnist”

  1. Mr. Furious

    17 years ago

    Thanks for the link, Seth., That is indeed a good column. As a progressive Democrat, I reflexively cringe when I hear that Ben Stein is weighing in on an issue, but that is indeed a good piece, and I agree wholeheartedly with him.

    I actually liked the appointment of Paulson, as opposed to most of Bush’s appointments, now I am not so sure…

  2. […] Read more here. Stein’s column is called Everybody’s Money. Bueller? Bueller? Posted by Chris Roush | […]


  3. s1c

    17 years ago

    You will never see him on the op-ed page of the Times unless he was to quit writing for the American Spectator. He has a pretty good web page also at As for the business reporting / writing what do you expect from the son of Herbert Stein.


  4. PointOfLaw Forum

    17 years ago

    Ben Stein: no shame, or no memory?…

    On Oct. 19 we quoted Bruce Carton as predicting a “barrage of deafeningly loud disapproval from the plaintiffs’ bar and consumer groups” over the Paulson Committee’s proposals for curtailing securities suits. Right on schedule, we heard in Sunday’…


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