Nicholas Kristof: Good, Or Evil?

High points and maybe not-so-high points of the Oregon-raised New York Times columnist's career

By Zach Dundas & Marty Patail September 2, 2014 Published in the September 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

POINT: Grew up on sheep farm in Yamhill County

COUNTERPOINT: Later inveighs against industrial farms

POINT: Graduated from Harvard in 1981

COUNTERPOINT: Argues that “cloistered” professors no longer matter, urging them to embrace Twitter, Facebook, and TED Talks

POINT: Goes down in a plane crash in the Congo in 1997 while covering that nation’s civil war and barely escapes capture by a rebel army in a jeep chase

COUNTERPOINT: Then gets bitten by a mosquito and contracts malaria

POINT: Won two Pulitzers for his Tiananmen Square and Darfur genocide coverage

COUNTERPOINT: Has argued that sweatshops are a beneficial step in a nation’s development

POINT: Uses his column to publish Dylan Farrow’s accusation that Woody Allen, her stepfather, sexually abused her

COUNTERPOINT: Times ombudsman Margaret Sullivan proclaims herself “troubled” by the one-sided column; NYT book critic Janet Maslin calls it “a really questionable use of that space.”

POINT: Writes passionately about human trafficking

COUNTERPOINT: One of his “heroes,” anti-sex-slavery advocate Somaly Mam, turns out to have faked her dramatic backstory.

POINT: After Newsweek exposes Mam, Sullivan demands that Kristof give readers a “full explanation” of his laudatory coverage of her.

COUNTERPOINT: In a blog post, Kristof concedes that Newsweek made a “strong case” and also notes: “Sometimes there are doubts about a backstory, of course, but that wasn’t true of Somaly Mam until long after I last wrote about her.”

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