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What usually happens with their opinion pieces is that most of them are pretty uncontroversial and bland. But the ones that are silly, extreme and/or hypocritical are the ones that make it to the top precisely because they are so.

Take the example of their opinion pieces today.

Article 1: French polls show populist fever is here to stay as globalisation makes voters pick new sides

Article 2: How the opposition parties can still make a contest of this election

Two reasonable articles, which are not amongst the 10 most viewed or clicked on. What is amongst the most viewed opinion pieces then?

Article 1: Allow me to womansplain the problem with gendered language

Article 2: Serena Williams’s pregnant victory reminds us how amazing women’s bodies are. Subititle: Are women the weaker sex? I don't think so.

So the well-reasoned, sane articles are ignored, while the clickbait rubbish is well....clicked on, makes their 'most viewed' and is featured on their front page. A large part of the problem is people's tendencies to click on what you call "socially regressive" viewpoints. It's not like the people agree with them either, most of the comment section involves bashing the author. Some people are just looking for articles to get angry too.

NYT also publishes some pretty crass, clickbaity opinion pieces. I used to like Krugman, but his opinion pieces have gotten increasingly annoying the last few years. It's not that I disagree with what he says, it's just that they're poorly written rants that merely serve to make NYT look more tabloid.

I've seen that too.

As the commenter above me stated, in 2015 Alan Rusbridger left and got replaced with Katharine Viner

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