My first reaction upon learning recently that New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow has blocked me on Twitter was thinking it was a mistake. After all, we have never met in person, and our areas of interest don’t overlap much. Moreover, he’s a much bigger shot than me, so why should he care what I think about anything? And of course, accidents do happen.
Above all, the alternative explanation would expose Blow as thin-skinned beyond belief. For the only interactions between the two of us I could find were two tweets of mine – and only one was on a subject in which Blow seems to take a special interest.
I first thought that Blow was irritated by my thoughts on Ferguson- and similar race-related issues. Blow writes about them frequently, but although I have tweeted about them some – from a standpoint that’s clearly not his – there’s no evidence that they aroused his ire. Ditto for last fall’s ebola scare, on which we have both written several times (check out my Im-Politic category).
Instead, we only crossed swords in any detectable sense on two occasions. One did concern a major theme of Blow’s. Right after the mid-term elections, I tweeted about a column of his that disagreed with claims that President Obama is arrogant. I noted that his own essay provided lots of evidence to support that charge.
But the other instance related to a subject about which Blow rarely writes: foreign policy. I observed in that an August piece by this liberal commentator sounded a lot like a neoconservative call for America to intervene all over the world on behalf of good causes, whether any significant U.S. interests were at stake or not.
I may not be the nation’s best known commentator (!) but even most critics who do know my work don’t consider me a nutball. In fact, my record of appearing in top-of-the-line publications for decades (including The New York Times) is plain to see, and my Twitter following includes many distinguished figures from the business, political, economics, and media worlds. These ranks include a number of critics, and I in turn follow many folks with whom I regularly disagree – often strongly.
That’s why I truly hope that Blow’s decison to block was indeed an accident. Because the alternative conclusion would be supremely discouraging: A columnist for one of the world’s greatest newspapers is among the sickest of puppies.