Conservative New York Times op-ed columnist Bret Stephens went native by calling for a repeal of the Second Amendment on Thursday and it appears he is adapting to his new digs just fine.
The Times hired the Pulitzer Prize-winning Stephens last April to offer a conservative voice to the typically left-leaning paper as the paper aimed to recommit to the goal of offering “intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion.” Editorial page chief James Bennet said the addition of Stephens would help “foster collegial debate among brave, honest journalists with very different points of view.”
He was poached from the Wall Street Journal and his hiring spurred headlines such as, “The New York Times should not have hired climate change bulls-----r,” and “The Hiring of Bret Stephens raises question of what the NYT op-ed section should look like.”
Stephens made a splash with his first column for the Times, “Climate of Complete Certainty,” which defended people who question if climate change is a legitimate thing. The op-ed upset liberals and “thousands of readers” sent letters to the Times in protest, according to then-Public Editor Liz Spayd. Progressive website Mother Jones even mocked the Times’ decision to hire Stephens.
Less than six months later, Stephens hardly passes for a conservative in the eyes of right-leaning influencers. Sean Hannity referred to him as a “so-called conservative” and National Review’s David Harsanyi said he is “fundamentally wrong” when it comes to guns.
“There is a huge marketplace in traditional media for conservatives who then turn their back on core conservative beliefs like Stephens,” Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor told Fox News. “The left protested when Stephens was first hired at the Times, so he's doing everything they could ask now, including undermining the Constitution.”
A spokeswoman from the Times told Fox News that, “Bret is going to let the column speak for itself,” when we asked if he would have felt comfortable speaking out against the Second Amendment if he worked at a more conservative news organization.
Throughout the column, Stephens refers to conservatives as if they’re a group that he is not part of. It begins, “I have never understood the conservative fetish for the Second Amendment,” and eventually declares that James Madison wouldn’t be ok with the modern state of the Second Amendment.
Stephens’ anti-Second Amendment column doesn’t call for an outright ban on guns, but he doesn’t want them to be easily obtainable on the heels of the massacre in Las Vegas.
“Repealing the [Second] amendment may seem like political mission impossible today, but in the era of same-sex marriage, it's worth recalling that most great causes began as improbable ones,” Stephens wrote. “Gun ownership should never be outlawed, just as it isn't outlawed in Britain and Australia. But it doesn't need a blanket constitutional protection, either.”
National Review Editor Charles C. W. Cooke ripped Stephens’ op-ed, saying his “column is not a rigorous one” and that “it is a brusque list of ill-considered assertions that do nothing to grapple with the many arguments to their contrary.”
Cooke continued: “It is remarkable how blithely he elects to invoke Madison as a friend to his cause, and how readily he subordinates the right to bear arms to expediency.”
Stephens’ call to repeal the Second Amendment is being praised by the left and ripped by the right. The op-ed is obviously polarizing, but it makes one thing absolutely clear: Liberal New York Times readers don’t have to appear outraged that The Gray Lady hired a conservative any longer.