T. A. Frank expends a lot of ink/pixels trying to explain away the fact that no one bothers to read Bob Herbert. Jonathan Zasloff comments:

Frank asks: why don't people read or talk about Bob Herbert's column more? He notes 1) that Herbert's judgments have been very accurate; 2) he's not a knee-jerk liberal; and 3) he writes about issues of poverty that most columnists ignore. Then he goes through a series of interesting speculations about why some columnists are influential and others aren't.

Except the one most obvious potential explanation: Bob Herbert is an African-American journalist who writes about issues of poverty and race.

My two cents: once I know the topic of a Herbert column, I can predict every single self-satisfied, self-righteous platitude that is about to come. He's also a terrible writer - there's no character to his prose, never a felicitous turn of phrase. He's the kind of columnist who gets journalism awards. Even when he's right he's so insufferably self-righteous and humorless it's a pain to read him. So I don't.

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