Former opinion editor, I should say. It turned out he was sleeping with an employee of the PR firm that represents Hollywood producer Brian Grazer, who, coincidentally, was tapped to guest-edit the paper’s “Current” section this weekend. When the Times’s publisher found out about the conflict of interest, he killed the section. Whereupon the opinion editor, Andres Martinez, quit. But not before writing this:

Among the biggest possible conflicts of interest a newspaper can enter into is to have the same people involved in news coverage running opinion pages. I am proud of the fact that Jeff Johnson, Dean Baquet and I fully separated the opinion pages from the newsroom at the Times. I accept my share of the responsibility for placing the Times in this predicament, but I will not be lectured on ethics by some ostensibly objective news reporters and editors who lobby for editorials to be written on certain subjects, or who have suggested that our editorial page coordinate more closely with the newsroom’s agenda, and I strongly urge the present and future leadership of the paper to resist the cries to revisit the separation between news and opinion that we have achieved.

Patterico says there sure is a scandal here but it has nothing to do with nookie payola and everything to do with a “agenda” being acknowledged by a guy who was, until this week, one of the paper’s own top editors. I’m inclined to agree. Exit question: Which black eye for the Times is bigger?

Update: Martinez names names. Sweet. He dropped this in the New York Times, too: “There’s a general post-Jayson Blair, post-Staples Center obsession with covering yourself to a fault. I would argue this is taking it too far. The wheels of this bus have come off. There’s not strong leadership in the newsroom, and there’s a perception that [LAT publisher David] Hiller is trying to suck up to Hollywood and advertisers.”

Tags: New York