NYT Laugh-Line Headline of the Day: 'Barney Frank, Moderate'

November 29th, 2011 10:56 AM

New York Times editorial board member, and former Times reporter, David Firestone is filling in for Andrew Rosenthal this week at the paper’s opinion blog The Loyal Opposition. He has apparently been tasked to make Rosenthal seem balanced by comparison, judging by his Monday posting with the laugh-line headline “Barney Frank, Moderate.”

Firestone was paying tribute to liberal Democrat Rep. Barney Frank, who has represented the Fourth District in southern Massachusetts for the past 30 years and is retiring now, unwilling to stomach the challenge of running in a redrawn district. Firestone termed Frank, who has earned a lifetime rating of 4 out of a possible 100 from the American Conservative Union, a “centrist.” But if Barney Frank isn’t a liberal, than who in Congress is?

Even the Times news page admitted the obvious. The headline over Abby Goodnough’s write-up on Frank’s retirement read: “Barney Frank, a Top Liberal, Won’t Seek Re-election.” Goodnough devoted two paragraphs to Frank’s sexual orientation, compared to three on the influential Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation; she didn’t even mention Frank’s controversial ties to and defense of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, which many blame for the U.S. mortgage crisis.

Back to Firestone’s post on “Barney Frank, Moderate.”

Conservative web sites are already cheering Barney Frank’s announcement that he will retire from his Massachusetts House seat at the end of his term. But whether or not they say so publicly, many Republicans on Capitol Hill will actually miss him.

He is the most caustically hilarious member of the House, and is anything but the socialist caricature invented by the right.....But economically, Mr. Frank is essentially a centrist. He believes in markets, supported free-trade agreements, and talks often of the need for a “grand bargain” between business and liberals. He worked with Republicans on housing policy and on the bailout of the banks. Nearly a third of the $13.1 million he raised since 1989 came from the financial, insurance, and real estate industries, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.


Conservatives love to blame him for the housing crisis, pointing to his ties to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Although he could have exercised greater oversight, the connection between the mortgage companies and the subprime crisis is demonstrably false, invented to take the blame away from Wall Street and the big banks.