The fact that the scholarly community does not consider the new atheists’ contribution to intellectual debate an asset makes no real difference. They have been an overwhelmingly popular media hit.
From the media perspective, what’s not to like about the new atheists? Tenured academics shrieking insults worthy of a brat pack of drunken starlets catching out each other’s sexual indiscretions are dead easy to cover. The risks of misrepresenting anyone by falling below their intellectual level are very low.
Reasoned scholarly objections are not easy to cover. They don’t get the ink. Thus, increasingly, new atheists get to define what an atheist is, to a broad public.
No wonder if the traditional ones start to answer back. More.