THE WORST THING WE READ THIS WEEK™
Once the NYT finishes scraping the bottom of the pundit barrel for worthless opinions , what do they imagine they’ll do with that shiny clean barrel? Rent it out to advice and astrology columnists?
"The readers of the Times naturally assume that the reason the paper gives someone an opinion column is that it thinks ... they are a stylish and talented writer, or that they have some valuable expertise, or that their ideology will interestingly expand the range of ideas expressed in the section."
I don't assume that, and neither should anyone else, although I suspect you're correct that most Times readers do. The definitive treatment of the question "Why does the NYT do what the NYT does?" was written years ago by Alex Pareene:
"The company's media kit - the PR materials designed to convince brands to purchase ads in the paper or on their website ... reports a median household income of $191,000 for readers of the paper and $96,000 for the website ... Take a surgeon, making $400,000. That is, more or less, the intended reader of the Times ..."
As Pareene explained, all manner of otherwise bewildering behavior by the NYT becomes intelligible when this fact is taken into account. In the present case, it seems to me reasonable to suppose that TERFs and their sympathizers are considerably more abundant than trans women among the NYT's intended readers. More generally, the reason why the NYT "has a reactionary streak" and dispatches "a new columnist to write about old complaints" is that most of its intended readers, however liberal they may style themselves, are old, rich, and hence tend to be reactionary, albeit in a conventionally respectable manner, not the now-mainstream "conservative" manner.
Mind you, I'm not suggesting the NYT editorial staff willfully conspire, with Snidely Whiplash-like glee, to cater to the worst tendencies of their intended readers. It's just that one doesn't become or remain a member of something like the NYT editorial staff without intuitively, almost instinctively, understanding what keeps the customers satisfied.