Debra J. Saunders

Lucky me. No one can accuse me of being a token female columnist, because I'm the only full-time columnist writing for the San Francisco Chronicle's opinion page. (Editorial writer Ken Garcia writes a weekly column.)

 Last month, when syndicated columnist Susan Estrich went public with her feud with Los Angeles Times Editorial Page Editor Michael Kinsley for not running enough columns by women and local writers, she put the gender card back on the table.

 Credit Estrich for getting the pack journalists to find a big story in a phenomenon any rube can see. Stop the presses: Most opinion writers are men.

 It doesn't help Estrich that the Los Angeles Times is not the worst offender. In the first nine weeks of 2005, the Times reported, 20 percent of its op-ed pieces were written by women, while just 17 percent were at The New York Times and a mere 10 percent at The Washington Post. Editor & Publisher, the news industry's trade magazine, looked at eight news syndicates and found that 24 percent of their opinion writers are women.

 It also doesn't help Estrich that she went ballistic on this issue after the L.A. Times ran a piece written by a woman -- Charlotte Allen of the conservative Independent Women's Forum. Estrich explained on the phone that she wants to promote both liberal and conservative women, but "after you've been trying for years to get more women voices heard, to find one of the few women voices saying where are the women voices?" -- well, she found that "insulting."

 Estrich may say she wants to promote diversity of opinion as well as gender diversity, but I've been watching the diversity game for some years. In journalism, diversity is a club the left uses to increase the hiring of lefties. Feminists say they want more female columnists when what they really want are only more liberal female columnists. Or, in their lingo, they want "authentic" women. So when the left pushes for more diversity in a profession that is overwhelmingly liberal already, it really is pushing for less diversity of ideas.

Debra J. Saunders

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