The New York Times Book Review was, I think, in sad shape before Sam Tannenhaus took it over. But now it is worse. Let me turn the mike over to Patrick Nielsen Hayden::
Making Light: Why they call it an "establishment": The New York Times Book Review is an organ of the received-wisdom prejudices of upper-middle-class Americans. The New York Review of Books is more typically confrontational and--unashamedly--intellectual. You can inhale entire issues of the New York Times Book Review without having a single preconception ruffled. This isn%u2019t remotely true of the New York Review of Books.
Here's the comparison that wraps it all up. Both publications recently ran reviews of Norman Mailer's new novel, The Castle in the Forest.
To write their review, the New York Review of Books commissioned J. M. Coetzee, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
To write theirs, on the other hand, the New York Times Book Review commissioned disgraced former New Republic blogger and sockpuppet wielder Lee Siegel, the man who had to be administered smelling salts after being exposed to the awful language of the bloggers in whom he'd discerned the novel new characteristic that he dubbed "blogofascism."
Why is this guy still getting work, much less high-profile work like this? Answer: establishments take care of their own.