THE BOSTON GLOBE has jumped from the frying pan into the fire, with its latest attempt to put an end to “The Jacoby Affair.”
In July, the Globe outraged many readers and journalists by suspending Jeff Jacoby - the sole conservative columnist on the very liberal paper. Many charged that Jacoby was being persecuted for his political views. Some even whispered that his suspension had been timed to silence him through the election.
As if to prove the critics wrong, the Globe announced Wednesday that it had hired two new columnists, described in the paper as “two women at the leading edge of American conservative thought.”
The new pundits, Cathy Young and Jennifer Cabranes Braceras, were described by Globe Editorial Page Editor Renee Loth in these words:“These are exciting new voices for the Globe’s opinion page. I am certain that the fresh insights of these two women will assure a diversity of opinion is represented in the Globe throughout the presidential campaign.”
But how conservative are they?
The FreeRepublic.com message board was rife with speculation the day of the announcement. One alert citizen journalist known as “Elle Bee” posted a link to an August 16 article from the New York Law Journal. The article noted that Federal Judge Jose Cabranes - who happens to be the father of the Globe’s new pundit Jennifer Cabranes Braceras - is a Clinton appointee, a friend of Vice Presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman and a likely appointee to the Supreme Court if Al Gore wins the election.
USA Today has also named Judge Cabranes as a likely Gore pick for the Supreme Court.
Might this affect Jennifer Braceras’ objectivity?
“If Young and Braceras are leading conservatives, so is Joe Lieberman,” wrote pundit Debbie Schlussel sarcastically in her Jewish World Review column on Friday. “A more accurate description: They're at the center of moderation. In fact, Young usually expressly attacks conservatism… so it's hard to see how she could be on the leading edge of it.”
Schlussel also seemed to imply that Young’s feminist sympathies placed her somewhat to the left of what would ordinarily be considered “conservative” thought.
Schlussel went on to attack Braceras, whom she dismissed as “a big law-firm lawyer, who hasn't written much” and whose main claim to fame seemed to be that she was “the well-connected daughter of Federal Judge Jose Cabranes” - weak credentials, she implied, for replacing a columnist of Jacoby’s 10-year experience.
More controversially, Schlussel accused Cathy Young of multiple instances of plagiarism - including plagiarism of Schlussel’s own writing.
“Concerning the odd similarity of Young's July 7 column to mine of July 5, I complained to The Detroit News staff,” Schlussel wrote, “…pointing out that in the period of less than a year, Cathy Young wrote one column attacking my writing and another that sounds eerily similar to my writing.”
Young defended herself in an interview with FrontPageMagazine.com. “Her claim is ridiculous beyond belief,” she said. “Even my editors concluded that there was no plagiarism.”
The two women duked it out over these charges Friday, on the JewishWorldReview.com Web site, with Cathy Young denying the charges and Schlussel reiterating them.
Globe spokesman Rick Gulla acknowledged that he had read Schlussel’s column, but shrugged off the criticism that she leveled toward the two new hires. “We have every confidence in Ms. Braceras and Young, and we look forward to their contributions,” he told FrontPageMagazine.com on Friday.
Many conservatives still see Mr. Jacoby’s suspension as suspect. In July, Jacoby wrote an Independence Day column praising the sacrifices made by the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Globe editors suspended him for allegedly failing to cite his sources properly.
The doubts that have been cast on The Globe’s latest hires only underscore the deep suspicions and powerful passions that still surround Jacoby’s case. The only full-time conservative columnist at New England’s largest newspaper, Jacoby will remain suspended until Election Day, November 7. Many wonder whether his election-season stand-ins will be as likely as Jacoby was to upset the Globe’s liberal apple-cart.