The Other McCain

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

McKay Coppins, Concern Troll

Posted on | October 22, 2012 | 11 Comments

Every newsroom is a seething cauldron of frustrated ambition. It’s been that way forever, and is true everywhere.

Nobody goes into the news business with the goal of being the headline writer on the obituary page, but somebody’s got to do it, and the phenomenon of the “disgruntled staffer” is not really interesting unless the guy shows up for work one day with a high-powered rifle, four or five clips of ammo, and a grim determination to finally get his name on the front page.

It was in this light that I read McKay Coppins’s BuzzFeed article today about “disgruntled staffers” at

To make a long story short: So what?

There’s nothing in this article that was really news to me. I know nearly everyone at, and like all of them — just for example, I was hanging out with Andrew at the 2007 YAF West Coast conference where he first met Alex Marlow — and if some of them don’t like other . . . again, so what?

Is there some rule that everybody in a news operation must like each other? Or that the staff writers must always agree with the editorial choices of management? If so, nobody ever told me about it, and I’ve been in the news business since 1986.

In other words, whatever your opinion of the internal quarrels of the staff — who’s right or wrong, who’s good or bad — it’s really just the typical grumbling common to all news operations.

The same backstage rivalry goes on every day at Fox News or CNN or the Iowa Hog Farmers Gazette.

And what McKay Coppins has done is to exploit that for profit at BuzzFeed, playing “concern troll,” as if he admired Andrew Breitbart and shared Breitbart’s goals or ideals. He didn’t.

Finally, to my friends at Breitbart: If you don’t like your job or you don’t like your boss, you can always quit.

If you feel that your value to the organization is insufficiently appreciated, the smart thing to do is to offer your resignation and seek employment elsewhere. I’ve often reflected with amusement that, when I resigned from The Washington Times in 2008 — after they hired a guy from the Post to replace the retiring Wes Pruden — they were willing to let me walk away.

Since then, they’ve gone through three editors, massive layoffs, a disastrously expensive blunder of a Web site re-design and, when last I heard, were about to hire their fourth editor in as many years.

Me? I’m a correspondent for The American Spectator and run a blog that averages more than a quarter-million hits a month.

That may not seem like much, but it ain’t failure, and is much better than the misfortune of folks who got laid off in the staff-cutting bloodbaths that followed my departure from the Times.

Moral of the story: If you think the guys running the operation don’t know what they’re doing, get out while the getting’s good. Otherwise, shut up and do your job.

And don’t ever tell McKay Coppins jack shit, either way.


11 Responses to “McKay Coppins, Concern Troll”

  1. Don’t Let The Door Hit Ya Where The Good Lord Split Ya | That Mr. G Guy's Blog
    October 22nd, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

    […] Stacy McCain has some sage advise for anyone who may be disgruntled at their job; Every newsroom is a seething cauldron of frustrated ambition. It’s been that way forever, and is true everywhere. […]

  2. Voting Female
    October 22nd, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

    ‘McKay Coppins’ great character name for a Disney movie… Tea Party Steals The Liberals Christmas; Or how Obama Lost

  3. Alan Markus
    October 22nd, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

    Something I’ve been thinking about – after the election, no matter what the outcome, I think most of us will feel like taking a torch to the Legacy Media. Maybe we can drive down the value and force them into bankruptcy or cause them to be sold at fire-sale prices (what did Newsweek go for? $1?). At that point, maybe some conservative angel investors would buy the carcasses & let seasoned guys like you (RSM) make something useful out of what is left.

  4. Dan Collins
    October 22nd, 2012 @ 7:38 pm

    Everyone knows the Iowa Hog Farmers Gazette (and Home Decorating Hootenanny) is a cesspool of backstabbery, to mix the metaphors the way pundits do.

  5. Steve T
    October 22nd, 2012 @ 7:47 pm


  6. JeffS
    October 22nd, 2012 @ 7:52 pm

    In other words, whatever your opinion of the internal quarrels of the staff — who’s right or wrong, who’s good or bad — it’s
    really just the typical grumbling common to all news operations.

    Actually, that’s true of any operation. A successful operation means grumbling is secondary to the job, relegated to water cooler or can conferences. An unsuccessful operation means people bitch and/or vent at every opportunity.

    But, in either case, your advice to get out is sound indeed.

    And Mr. Coppins needs to get a clue. Or maybe a job serving fries.

  7. Mike G.
    October 22nd, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

    Some sage advise…don’t quit your present job until you have another job lined up. Unless you’re independently wealthy, of course.

  8. Adjoran
    October 22nd, 2012 @ 11:32 pm

    Every newsroom is a seething cauldron of frustrated ambition.

    Dude. Such lines make me think you may really be HST’s heir. And could be a great first line of a novel about a crusty hard-nosed old school reporter who investigates some great scandal involving the rich and powerful, dodging the shots of their hit men in the company of young and buxom yet scantily clad damsels in distress – soon to be a major motion picture.

  9. Adjoran
    October 22nd, 2012 @ 11:34 pm

    How can you say that after all the major investigative stories they have broken over steroids, bacon-skimming, and perverted sex cliques in hog farming?

  10. Bob Belvedere
    October 23rd, 2012 @ 8:24 am

    And always try to have at least six months of pay in your savings account.

  11. Bob Belvedere
    October 23rd, 2012 @ 8:25 am

    I’ve got the title: Power & Pulchritude!