The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘Floating Out There in the Journalistic Ether’

Posted on | March 2, 2011 | 10 Comments

Jack Shafer of Slate attempts to make sense of New York Times columnist Frank Rich’s departure for New York magazine:

Let me see if I’ve got this straight: Frank Rich is leaving a weekly column at the nation’s most important daily newspaper for a monthly column at the second best weekly in the country.
If Rich’s move is about wanting to spend more time with his family, gain greater distance from Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal, free himself to pursue his HBO projects more aggressively, or to work once again with New York Editor Adam Moss, with whom he has a mind-meld, I understand. But unless the deal came with Bloombergian bags of cash, it makes no sense. . . .
One of the charms of working weekly—or daily, for that matter—is that your readers know where and when to find you. But with Rich going monthly for a much less prominent publication, he’ll get lost. In this new venue, there will be no obvious cues—Sunday morning bagels and coffee, for example—that it’s Rich time. He’ll just be floating out there in the journalistic ether.
He won’t be the only one. Howard Kurtz, one of the iron men of journalism, has been floating in the ether ever since leaving the Washington Post for the Daily Beast last fall. He’s writing prolifically about the media and other topics for the Beast, as he did for decades at the Post. But Kurtz’s copy used to be hand-delivered to my front door step

I agree with Shafer that it’s hard to make sense of Rich’s move, except for the possibility that New York will let him run rampant online as a blogger, which would be amusing. Rich’s columns in the Sunday Times, which he had all week to compile, were generally target-rich environments, full of tendentious and predictable liberal nonsense. On the other hand — and I certainly wouldn’t rule this out — perhaps Rich is going to a monthly so as to free up his time to compile a book.

On the other hand, I don’t think Kurtz’s work has suffered by his transfer to the online Daily Beast, except for the fact that he now has a smaller footprint in D.C. Being a prominent contributor to the Washington Post — where Kurtz’s articles were most often placed on the “Style” section front — has a cachet.

Speaking of “journalistic ether,” how much ether did Tina Brown huff before hiring Andrew Sullivan? And what was she smoking when she wrote this?

I am thrilled to share the news that Andrew Sullivan is bringing his trailblazing journalism to The Daily Beast. Andrew almost single-handedly defined the political blog and has been refining it as a form of journalism in real time nearly every day for the past decade. . . .
Scrolling down Andrew’s blog helps to give orientation in the world, to get the smartest possible fix on the news at any given moment. . . .

It is said that “a fool and his money are soon parted.” In publishing, a fool and his money sooner or later hire Tina Brown, so that in a few short years, he becomes a fool with much less money.


10 Responses to “‘Floating Out There in the Journalistic Ether’”

  1. Anonymous
    March 2nd, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

    Exactly! If I hadn’t been so baffled by the NYT editorial linked above, it might have made me sick: “In this new venue, there will be no obvious cues—Sunday morning bagels and coffee, for example—that it’s Rich time.” Neither Frank Rich, nor his columns, should ever be allowed to go near coffee creamer and cream cheese.

    Look, I expect lefties to defend pathetic hacks like Rich, for reasons of pure ideological homerism. But that mentally-capable adults would set aside special moments each week to entertain the hollow scarecrows hanging out in Frank Rich’s tiresome little imagination is unfathomable.

    Ugh, hold on, though. There was this community organizer . . .