The Other McCain

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

Hot Air Hires Mary Katharine Ham Too Late to Prevent My ‘SkirtGate’ Debacle

Posted on | July 12, 2012 | 10 Comments

If I had any sense, I would let this news pass without comment, but if I had any sense I never would have started blogging in the first place, eh?

An appetite for risk, however, is one of those reckless habits that endear me to my friends, even those friends who fear to associate too publicly with me, lest they acquire the same persona non grata status –“Not Good Enough for BlogCon” — that I wear as a badge of honor.

This is one of those intramural metablogging things that no one outside the blogosphere understands or cares about, and it would be easy to just ignore it and blog about the latest Mitt Romney “scandal.” But if I only took the easy assignments, somebody might accuse me of being a gutless slacker, so I occasionally risk enhancing my unpopularity by writing about painful situations like this, because otherwise it might fester unnoticed, unexamined and unexplained.

Ignore stuff like that, and next thing you know, you get a Charles Johnson-type situation, with unpleasant consequences for everyone. Butt-hurt is not fatal, but it is both real and harmful.

In early 2011, a blogger friend contacted me to say he had seen an online advertisement for a new hire at Hot Air. My friend asked me if I intended to apply for the job, and when I said no, my friend asked me if I would recommend him for the job, knowing that I was a Green Room contributor. I explained to my friend that my recommendation would probably more do harm than good. Allahpundit has always hated me, and if my friend wanted to be hired by Hot Air, the smart thing for my friend to do would be to pretend that he’d never heard of me.

Besides, I told my friend, there was no point in his applying for the job anyway: “They’re gonna hire a chick.” This was one of those gut-hunch guesses, but it was based on enough logic that I felt confident in advising my friend against applying for the Hot Air gig, and he wasn’t the only one to whom I gave that advice.

My friends nevertheless ignored my advice, applied for the job anyway, got their hopes up, and were rejected, just as I had predicted. When it was announced in May 2011 that Hot Air had hired Tina Korbe, my friends were somewhat embittered. Furthermore, the fact that Tina Korbe had formerly been an assistant to Rob Bluey of the Heritage Foundation unfortunately lent credence to the resentful suspicion that the fix was in — that the rigamarole of advertising the opening, soliciting applications and getting people’s hopes up was just a cruel charade.

It may have been unfair for my friends to harbor such dark suspicions, but indeed they did. There is perhaps no need to explain why people who had devoted years of toil to conservative New Media (both of my friends had been blogging long before I entered the field) resented being passed over in favor of a little-known 20-something.

While one does not necessarily expect plum positions to be awarded according to a rigid system of seniority, my friends’ reaction on May 16, 2011, was one of stunned disbelief: “Tina Who?”

This wasn’t Tina Korbe’s fault, of course, and as I later pointed out, I like Tina Korbe. She shared my enthusiasm for Rick Santorum’s campaign and I often linked her Hot Air posts. But these protestations of goodwill were made amid the deafening furor incited by my infamous “SkirtGate” post, and I eventually realized that further attempts to defend myself would only aggravate the hate-storm I’d touched off.

C’est la vie.

Apparently, however, lessons were learned. If there was ever any announcement that Hot Air was planning to staff up — hiring Erika Johnsen from Townhall and promoting Jazz Shaw to a regular salaried gig last month and now hiring Mary Katharine Ham — nobody ever mentioned it to me, nor do I think that Hot Air advertised these jobs.

Good. Jobs like that are never advertised, for reasons which should be obvious. Think about it: You’ve never seen an advertisement for an NFL quarterback’s job, have you? Steven Spielberg doesn’t take out an ad on Craigslist: “Wanted: Leading man for major motion picture.”

If Charles Krauthammer retired tomorrow, the Washington Post would not run a help-wanted ad — “Major D.C.-based news organization seeks right-wing columnist. Send clips and resumé.” — and for the same reason Hot Air shouldn’t be advertising to hire bloggers.

The good news that Hot Air has finally hired Mary Katharine Ham, who points out that many people had been under the impression she already worked there, is tempered by my reflection of how much woe could have been averted if they had done this back in early 2011.

Everybody knows and likes MK, who was already a recognized blogopheric celebrity back in 2008, when Matthew Vadum and I made sure she was on the RSVP list for our notorious CPAC bash. And nobody ever accused MK of wearing short skirts, either.

Alas, it is too late to undo the damage inflicted by SkirtGate, and I haven’t noticed any influx of e-mails offering to buy me beers in gratitude for having stuck my neck out in defiance of the unspoken “Fight Club”-style taboo: The first rule of personnel policy at Salem Communications is, nobody talks about personnel policy at Salem Communications.

Gratitude is always in short supply in the blogsphere and is nearly as rare as sensitivity: “While I’m often accused of unfairly hurting other people’s feelings, no one ever seems to care about my feelings. I’ve long ceased to expect anything except insults from anyone, and those expectations are seldom disappointed.” So I’ll understand if no one offers to buy me beers at the next Major National Gathering of Conservative Bloggers to which I won’t be invited.



10 Responses to “Hot Air Hires Mary Katharine Ham Too Late to Prevent My ‘SkirtGate’ Debacle”

  1. Mike G.
    July 12th, 2012 @ 7:01 pm

     I will gladly buy you a beer or three, (but will refrain from drinking myself), if you ever make it back to the upstate of South Carolina again. And I’ll try damn hard not to hurt your feelings.

  2. MrMichael
    July 12th, 2012 @ 7:04 pm

    Mary Katherine Who?


  3. PaulLemmen
    July 12th, 2012 @ 7:29 pm

    Hell Robert, I’ll stand you to several beers IF you make it to the RNC convention here in Tampa. I shall not partake of anything stronger than diet root beer, but I am quite sure there are enough dives hereabouts to keep you well watered.

  4. badanov
    July 12th, 2012 @ 7:45 pm

    It turned out Ms. Korbe’s views were pretty well out in left field , and so she left for a sinecure in Oklahoma.

  5. richard mcenroe
    July 12th, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

     Now, now, Ms Hamm has done good works and suffered the chastisements of the ungodly.  She is deserving.

    Stacy, we gotta send you to OCS one of these days.  Once you have butt-hurt applied by professionals, you build up a tolerance fast.

  6. Garym
    July 12th, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

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

    This is the reason I read your site. I don’t always agree with you, but if all of us conservatives agreed on everything we wouldn’t have anything interesting to say. In other words we would be democrats. Keep up the good work. 

  7. Dave C
    July 13th, 2012 @ 12:29 am

    When did she quit before?  

  8. Bob Belvedere
    July 13th, 2012 @ 8:09 am

    I’d care about about your feelings if I, just like you, weren’t chopped liver.

  9. Evilbloggerlady
    July 13th, 2012 @ 9:09 am

    If I beloved in reincarnation, you would definitely be Rodney Dangerfield.

  10. Quartermaster
    July 13th, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

    Hot Air has gone down hill since the addition of Morrisey followed by the departure of Malkin. I can understand the temptation for Malkin to sell the site to Salem, but Morrisey is a squish (and I disagree that he has paid his dues). I’ve never had much liking for Allahpundit. The promotion of Jazz Shaw said everything that needed to be said about the direction of Hot Gas.

    I doubt the “Hammer” will add much to Hot Gas. And, Stacy, I think you do more here than you could over at Hot Gas.