The New York Times opinion page is undergoing what appears to be a period of diplomatic détente.
For the last year, media watchers from The New Republic, The Nation, The Huffington Post, and The Atlantic Wire have noticed an escalating proxy war between Times columnists Paul Krugman and David Brooks. The two never mention each other by name in their columns but their disagreements appear increasingly aimed at each other.
Yesterday, Brooks tried to dispel notions of a passive aggressive war between he and Krugman, telling us "I don't regard it as a one on one disagreement." This morning, in apparent pursuit of peace, Krugman followed suit on MSNBC's Morning Joe, when prompted by Joe Scarborough:
Scarborough: The Atlantic Wire suggests that you and David Brooks take it outside. They accuse both of you of engaging in a passive aggressive war. And Willie, there really is nothing uglier than editorial writer-on-editorial-writer crime here. It's sad.
Krugman: Can I just say. The New York Times is so much the dominant place for intelligent discussion in America that of course both sides of any issue is going to be two New York Times columnists. What else can you do?
Scarborough: So there's no passive aggressiveness?
Krugman: No, we're just doing the right thing.
Scarborough. That's a positive spin. Very chipper.
Mike Brzezinksi: It's nerd boxing.
Willie Geist. I don't think it's passive aggressive, I think it's explicit. It's out in the open.
Krugman: There's no passivity there.
It appears that this period of Brooks-Krugman diplomacy resembles the U.S.-Soviet relationship of the early '70s, in which the two powers downplayed talk of war in an apparent effort to smooth over tensions. We can only hope that the diplomatic thaw doesn't prevent passive aggressive fighting in the future. For while it's annoying to see them argue each other without naming names, it would be far worse if there were no disputes at all, passive aggressive or otherwise. So here's hoping things heat up soon!