NYT's Nocera Apologizes for Calling Tea Partiers 'Terrorists'

August 6th, 2011 10:30 AM

New York Times columnist Joe Nocera took a lot of heat this week for writing an article calling Tea Party members "terrorists" wearing "suicide vests."

On Saturday, he apologized:

In the four months since I began writing an Op-Ed column, the thing that has most surprised me is how darned liberal I sound sometimes.

After explaining his liberal roots, Nocera informed readers what brought him to make such inflammatory comments Tuesday:

Once the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives, they began to systemically undermine the Dodd-Frank reform law, pushing back against new, and mostly sensible, regulations designed to prevent another meltdown. The worst was the way Republicans took a hatchet to Elizabeth Warren as she tried to set up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Such an agency, had it been in existence prior to 2008, might have prevented millions of Americans, many of them poor and financially unsophisticated, from being gouged by mortgage companies. Watching it all unfold made me angry.

That anger reached its apex on Tuesday, when I wrote a column comparing the Tea Party Republicans to terrorists. The words I chose were intemperate and offensive to many, and I've been roundly criticized. I was a hypocrite, the critics said, for using such language when on other occasions I've called for a more civil politics. In the cool light of day, I agree with them. I apologize.

He concluded:

Most frightening of all, the hand-to-hand combat over spending is going to resume shortly when Congress returns from the August recess, and its supercommittee will start to look for an additional $1.5 trillion in cuts. It is hard to see how the outcome of those negotiations will be any different from this last awful go-round. In all likelihood, they will inflict more damage to our battered economy.

Undoubtedly, I'll write columns about those negotiations. But I won't be calling anybody names. That I can promise.

Maybe not, but it's a metaphysical certitude whatever he writes will sound "darned liberal."