Paul Krugman makes the rather valid point regarding an article by Michael Kinsley that, "I’m not really sure, but in these cases I suspect it has a lot to do with the famed TNR/Slate premium on being “counterintuitive”, which in practice meant skewering supposed liberal pieties."
I'd like to go a bit beyond this and suggest that if this were something more than liberal bashing we'd see a number of articles targeting Conservative pieties as well. I have some suggestions:
"Government Transfers Undermine the Culture of Dependency"
"Raising Taxes can Raise Growth"
"Using Welfare Rules to Enforce Traditional Sexual Mores Destroyed the Black Family"
"Competition Increases Costs and Effectively Reduces Choice in Health Care Markets"
"Owning a Gun Makes you More Likely to be a Victim of Gun Crime"
"Abstinence Only Education Makes Unwed Pregnancy More Likely"
"Employees are the True Drivers of Growth, Not Employers. And Have Been Since the Industrial Revolution."
[I plan to add to this list tomorrow night, just for fun. Please suggest more in comments]
Some of these have evidence behind them, some of them are simply things I suspect are true. A few of them have even been published.
However, I do think it is true that counter-intuitive news stories are something that are primarily used to undermine liberal policies, particularly those policies that benefit those not so well off. It is rarely used to undermine the Conservative worldview, particularly those parts of the Conservative worldview that are broadly shared across the elite.
It's interesting how rhetoric takes particular forms based on political orientation. Though perhaps it is just framed this way because it tells into a rather common narrative about how elite wisdom is superior to the intuitive beliefs of the hoi-polloi.