To quote the late hip-hop artist The Notorious BIG, it was all a dream.

A dream that the world’s most prominent newspaper would actually cover the most important story of our time with the seriousness it deserves. A dream that the publication would recognize that false balance on climate science was nothing more than an evil lie, and that those standing in the way of climate progress deserve scorn, not deference.

John Lennon said it best: the dream is over.

The New York Times— which advertises itself as a defender of truth in the Trump era — just hired an extreme denier of climate science as a columnist.

Bret Stephens was most recently deputy editorial page editor for Rupert Murdoch’s deeply conservative and climate-denying Wall Street Journal, where, in 2015, he wrote that climate change — along with hunger in America, campus rape statistics, and institutionalized racism—are “imaginary enemies.”

He will now take those views to the New York Times.

Stephens is unusually extreme and divisive even for a climate science denier, also comparing scientists and those who accept their findings to Stalinists, anti-semites, and communists…

By hiring Bret Stephens, the Times is making a mockery of its new ad campaign on the importance of truth — and it is impugning the reporting of its own professional journalists.

Of course, the Times doesn’t actually give a flying you-know-what about “the reporting of its own professional journalists”; if they did, they never would have brought Stephens on board. The Times has made it clear that covering the climate crisis is far less important than trying to silence dubious claims of “liberal bias.”

The sleaziness of the decision to embrace Stephens–a man every bit as loathsome as the anti-science agitators that stain the op-ed pages of the Washington Post and the Boston Globe–cannot be overstated. What grand insight can Stephens provide to Times readers? What wisdom can he possibly impart? There’s probably more intellectual merit in decades-old William Safire columns then there is in anything Stephens can produce today.

It will be interesting to see how many Times readers choose to drop their subscriptions as a result of this demented decision. By hooking up with Stephens, the Times is perpetrating a fraud upon its readers, attempting to convince them that Stephens represents civil and reasoned conservatism, when on the most important issues of our age he’s as barbaric as Breitbart.

It’s as though the Times has forgotten all about Superstorm Sandy’s assault on New York City five years ago, and MSNBC host Chris Hayes’s analysis of what needed to be done in its aftermath:

It’s true that Sandy was a freak storm, a bad-luck confluence of a number of low probability events that could conceivably have happened in some alternate climate that wasn’t warming. But this climate, our climate, is warming, and as it does, low probability events like this will become more probable, and more intense.

Carbon emissions are trapping extra energy in our atmosphere, and with extra energy come more extremes: higher sea levels, dryer droughts, hotter heat waves, and heavier, wetter storms.

We need a crash program in this country right now to re-engineer the nation’s infrastructure to cope with and prepare for the climate disruptions that we have already ensured with the carbon we’ve already put into the atmosphere, as well as an immediate, aggressive transformation of our energy production, economy and society to reduce the amount of carbon we will put into the atmosphere in the future.

This is as fundamental, as elemental as human endeavors get. The story of civilization is the long tale of crusaders for order battling the unceasing reality of chaos. And it is a kind of miracle that we have succeeded as much as we have, that airplanes fly through the air, and roads plunge beneath the water and the entire teeming latticework of human life exists in the manifold improbable places it does. But it is the grand irony that in imposing this improbable order on the world, we’ve released millions of years of stored up carbon into the atmosphere, which is now altering the climate and threatening the very monuments of civilization that we so cherish.

We absolutely have it within us, collectively, to beat back the forces of chaos once again. But we must choose to do so. And the time for choosing is now. You are either on the side of your fellow citizens and residents of this planet, or you are on the side of the storms as yet unnamed.

You cannot be neutral.

So which side are you on?

Now, sadly and shamefully, we know which side the Times is on.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.