I think the question of critics "bashing" other critics is a thorny one. On the one hand, what we write is published, and is fair game for comment. On the other, there is a hesitancy for one critic to correct another critic -- if one reads something in a review that one thinks is inaccurate, it's bad form to write a Letter to the Editor calling attention to the inaccuracy, for example.
If a critic takes a position on a ballet that's different for your own, I think it's petty and unprofessional to say so publicly, and usually when it's done, there's a private agenda. (I've been the butt of this 2 or 3 times, once ten years ago by someone whose article I had rejected for DanceView, for example. Luckily, everyone I knew guessed that!) "Ms. X's notion that the new 'Swan Lake' is the best ever is pathetic," for example, or even the indirect (following a review that says this) "There are those whose who actually believe that mime is relevant to our modern times." If you think the "Swan Lake" is brilliant, say so; forget what Ms. X says. And if you hate mime or think it drags the ballet down, write that.
But nevertheless moreover and however, there is the notion of policing one's own profession, and Mr. Barnes has a right to think he is in that position, particularly on a back page column in Dance Magazine. Ms. Holman's piece caused an enormous amount of comment, along the lines that Barnes mentions, among critics. If one aims to jete into the big leagues overnight, one had better be brilliant, with a solid piece, or people will talk. Writing a piece that's a rehash of what others have written, with the context a bit skewed, about the hometown company in the hometown paper, and taking a position contrary to what that paper's critic has been saying for years, is going to cause comment.
And so I also think that he's right in calling the editors on this. You don't undercut your own writer that way. There are ways that opposing or provocative views can be raised honorably. If the paper's critic is constantly criticizing, say, a choreographer for being too European and wiithout depth or meaning, and those who believe in the choreographer's work and think the critic is Not Getting It in a big way, then it's okay to have a "To the Contrary" piece by someone -- another choreographer, even someone on the payroll (obviously I'm thinking of John Martins, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein to write the "To the Contrary" piece. He wasn't just a board member with a grudge; he had stature in NY intellectual circles beyond his role with NYCB.)
Or if the critic is writing "everything is just wonderful!" you could have an angry To the Contrary. But to publish an article by someone with no standing as a critic? I think that can be called into question. There's a big problem now in journalism and publishing generally with editors who are not general experts on cultural matters, say, as would have been the case 30 years ago. Then, the editors would have seen the company themselves and had a context in which to put an article submitted by someone they don't know. Now, few do -- and that, coupled with the, "Hey, who's to say? Everybody has an opinion. We have a hole to fill" attitude, has produced a lot of puff pieces championing, for example, a choreographer who's about ten years, or lifetimes, away from being "perhaps one of the greatest choreographers of our time." I think those editors need to know that someone is reading what they publish and will speak out when necessary.
I'd held off writing because I hoped that more readers would respond -- we always get the critics chiming in on critic questions, but it's much more interesting to see what the rest of you think