Douthat—a senior editor at The Atlantic who has already authored two books—will become the Times’ youngest columnist, writing online and blogging before appearing in print opposite liberal Paul Krugman.
“We were looking for a conservative writer,” said New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal. “He has a fresh perspective, and writes from a clear philosophical and ideological point of view. He can be critical of Republican policies.”
Atlantic Associate Editor and former Crimson Managing Editor Marc J. Ambinder ’01 met Douthat through The Crimson, where, Douthat “established himself as the premier conservative voice on campus,” said Ambinder. The two continued to work together at The Atlantic.
“If you look at his writing at Harvard, you see an extremely sharp intellectual mind,” he said. “Some of his writings were orthodox, others were heterodox...he was vacillating between the two, trying to figure out who he was as a writer and thinker.”
“He was very much in the mode of a commentator and a chronicler of the liberal foibles of Harvard. There was always a depth that other polemicists did not have,” Ambinder added.
Douthat’s freshman year roommate Jason T. Sauer ’02 said he was unsurprised by Douthat’s appointment based on his recollections of his former roommate’s record as a journalist in College. One piece profiling Douthat as a senior in Fifteen Minutes magazine cited him for writing over 3000 words of copy each week
“I think that in a lot of ways, this new position is going to be a continuation of the role that Ross found for himself on the Harvard campus,” he said. “He made the back page of the Harvard Salient a must-read for three years.”
Douthat isn’t just a fill-in for Kristol’s specific conservative voice, Ambinder said.
“It’s safe [for the Times] to choose a Bill Kristol because he won’t persuade people to see his point of view,” he said. “Ross isn’t like that. Ross is going to persuade people.”
“The New York Times is giving an immensely talented writer and thinker a megaphone to use to reshape the conservative movement in this country,” Ambinder added.
Douthat declined to comment, saying that his blogpost about his new position—in which he thanked The Times “for taking an awfully big chance”—would be his only statement on the matter.