I may be forgetting someone, but the way I see it, Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert were just about the only outspoken, confrontational liberals in the punditosphere. The only other two I can think of who might qualify are Harold Meyerson of WaPo and Thomas Frank of WSJ. Remember when the first NYT public editor, Daniel Okrent, finished his stint? He took a nasty shot at Paul Krugman (along with two gentler criticisms of MoDo and Safire):
Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults.
Yes, he had a role as a liberal voice. But such a boring, familiar voice. There was something about his writing that simply forced you to stop reading, even when his motives were obviously honorable, his compassion deep, and his solutions sincere, if invariably trite.
I’ll admit that Bob Herbert said the same things over and over again, but they were things that almost no one else was saying and they bore repeating. I don’t think he was any more repetitive than any of the other pundits anyway. They’re all broken records, even Krugman, who is the only one I truly enjoy reading.
Sullivan and Okrent took shots at Krugman and Herbert, because one of the rules of the game is that outspoken liberals must be mocked — they’re shrill, they’re trite, they’re naive! Elite media is a big fraternity, where midnight circle jerks alternate with the ritualistic hazing of liberals.