Ben Stein, a New York Times finance columnist who was fired last week for appearing in what his critics called "bait and switch scam" commercials, has mounted his defense. But the blogs aren't buying it and have theories of their own.
Liberal Conspiracy Stein, writing in the American Spectator, provided a few theories on why he was fired, all of which pointed to the same culprit: Liberals. "The haters connected with atheism and neo-Darwinism continued to attack me," Stein wrote of his tenure at the Times. "I started criticizing Mr. Obama quite sharply over his policies and practices," he recounted, saying that such criticism was "flat out nixed" by editors. "By a total coincidence, I was tossed overboard immediately after my column attacking Obama. (You can attack Obama from the left at the Times but not from the right.)" Stein also defended from blogs, which he called "a backyard gossip freeway for the whole world's sick people to pour out their neuroses."
Unreliable Narrator Felix Salmon, Reuters' finance blogger and Stein's arch-nemesis, expressed skepticism. "Stein is, of course, a highly unreliable narrator here," he wrote. "Stein provides financial advice in his column, and he provides financial advice in the ad," Salmon wrote in reference to Stein's FreeScore.com ads. "FreeScore isn't an "internet aggregator" [as Stein called it], it's a way of tricking people into paying money they can't afford for a service they don't need."
A Nut Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly wrote, "I'd hoped the New York Times would drop Stein's column because he's a nut, not because he's a spokesperson for some sketchy credit-score outfit." Benen criticized Stein's "increasingly bizarre" commentary, including "scurrilous attacks against modern science." After all, other conservative Times columnists manage to criticize Obama without getting canned.
No Innocent Victim Gawker's Ryan Tate mocks Stein's argument that he is a "poor ... servant" who is the victim of liberals. Tate, in a post sarcastically titled "How Barack Obama Got Ben Stein Fired," said Stein isn't "under siege" by liberals or Goldman Sachs at all. "He manages to maintain homes in both Beverly Hills and Malibu," Tate noted. "And if you want to know his secret, tough luck, because someone just canceled his finance column."