Thomas Frank leaves the Wall Street Journal

By A. James Memmott

August 13, 2010 at 6:01am

The Wall Street Journal has lost its strong liberal voice.

That would be, many would argue, its only strong liberal voice, a lonely cry from the left amidst a chorus of opinion from the right.

Thomas Frank, writer of a weekly column called “The Tilting Yard” on the Journal’s opinion pages for the last two years, said his goodbyes Wednesday.

He moves on to write a column called “The Easy Chair” for Harper’s Magazine, perhaps a more likely home for his opinions.

Thomas Frank
Thomas Frank

Still, Frank certainly served a purpose for the Journal, adding a little variety to the predominantly conservative opinion page.

In a reverse of this arrangement, David Brooks and Ross Douthat serve the same function at The New York Times, their conservative views giving some contrast to the mostly liberal columnists on the op-ed page.

Frank, a University of Chicago Ph.D. and the author of The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule, took few prisoners on the right or on the left in his last column.

He credited Republicans with a “political brilliance” of sorts, saying they have held strong in their calls for deregulation despite evidence that more regulation is needed.

He faulted President Obama for his “loyalty to the exhausted free market faith.”

He took the media to task, singling out Times columnist Thomas Friedman and the Washington Post for special censure.

He took a last swipe at Wall Street where, in his words, “the road to hell is still lined to bonuses.”

And, lest it be forgotten, Frank scolded Washington, his place of residence, where “the prosperous, well-educated people still tote their yoga mats around town” and “the lobbyists still gather at the tasteful restaurants du jour.”

Fed up as a certain Jet Blue flight attendant, Frank finished with: “As for me, it’s two cans of beer and the escape chute to terra firma. Goodbye and good luck.”

Judging by their online comments, the Journal’s readers are coping with Frank’s departure.

“Thomas Frank is leaving? Let me renew my subscription!!,” doubly exclaimed one reader.

“Not sure why Mr. Thomas (sic) is leaving but on the other hand I was never sure why he was writing for the WSJ,” wrote another.

In a 2008 interview with Bill Moyers of PBC, Frank did give an explanation of how he came to have a spot on a page that was once a liberal-free zone.

Frank theorized that most liberal opinion pages didn’t want him because it would open them even more to the charge of “liberal bias.”

“Well, one of the only publications in America that is totally immune to that critique is the Wall Street Journal,” he said. “Which means they’re free to hire me.”

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  • #1.   ron hansing 08.19.2010

    Sad, but I guess Frank couldn’t take the heat. And followed Truman’s advice, … “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” maybe he should’ve gotten a dog… if he wanted a friend.

    As Che said to the American Radicals in the 60’s, the revolution was in the belly of the beast,(The United States) … in Frank’s case, the WSJ.

    If this all the stuff that the radical left has, than, we have nothing to worry about…. Oh, but he didn’t quit, like Palin, he just moved on… like Palin.

    Seriously, I am saddened that he left. A well informed person needs to hear both sides. The WSJ is now my main source of global news dropped the NYT, 2008 after reading the front page national enquirer’s article on Plain and Cindy McCain… Also, stopped reading the LAT and WP…

    ron hansing 8.19.10

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