A.J. Liebling wrote the Wayward Press column for the New Yorker. Shafer writes the Press Box column for Slate. Those are roughly similar activities. Shafer tells us that Liebling did 82 press columns over 18 years at the New Yorker. Judging by the Press Box archive, Shafer has written 200+ columns over four and a half years. Is it fair to ask: why has Shafer himself not emerged as the “next” Liebling? After all, he has the most interest in the question. The opportunity has been there for him, week to week. He had motive, means. Is it the anxiety of influence? Other priorities at the time? Lack of competition, perhaps?
They both miss the point; Shaffer really misses it.
We don’t need a single one-size-critiques-all press critic anymore because we have thousands of press critics: Everybody can be a press critic today. That yields both better criticism and better press.