The Washington Post announced Tuesday that it has hired Commentary Magazine contributing editor Jennifer Rubin to write a blog on the conservative movement and the Republican Party.
The move suggests that the Post has learned its lessons from the short run it gave blogger Dave Weigel, who resigned in June after emails surfaced showing him viciously attacking some prominent conservatives. The emails suggested that Weigel was hostile to large segments of the conservative movement, the beat he had been assigned to cover.
While Weigel was hired to give his opinions, there seemed to be an expectation that the Post was providing a counterweight to the paper's prominent liberal bloggers, who include Ezra Klein and Greg Sargent. Clearly, that was not the case.
I wrote in May: "The Post can retain its 'objective' label even while giving bloggers a larger role in reporting. But that would require the paper actually hire a conservative blogger." Weigel did not fit the mold. The Post didn't seem to have any interest in pursuing an even-handed approach to its growing online presence, I argued at the time.
Today's hire demonstrates at least an attempt by the paper to add a bit of balance to its impressive repertoire of bloggers.
Michael Calderone posted this memo from Fred Hiatt, the Post's editorial page editor:
I'm delighted to announce that Jennifer Rubin will be joining The Post with the launch of a new blog next month. Jennifer will provide critical news coverage and commentary, with an exacting eye on conservative policy-making and Republican campaigns, pundits and politicians. From a conservative perspective, she also will cover a wide range of foreign and domestic issues and media controversies. We imagine her blog in some ways as a companion to Greg Sargent's Plum Line, though of course with its own style and blend of reporting and analysis. With a Republican majority moving into the House and the 2012 Republican primary cycle earing up, there couldn't be a better time to bring Jennifer's fresh perspective and insightful reporting to our readers.
Jennifer comes to The Post from Commentary Magazine where, as contributing editor and chief blogger, her provocative writing has become "must read" material for news and policy makers and avid political watchers. Her work has also appeared in the Weekly Standard, Politico, the New York Post, the New York Daily News, the National Review, the Jerusalem Post and numerous other print and online publications. Before her career in journalism, Jennifer was a labor and employment lawyer in Los Angeles for 20 years.
Rubin is a stalwart conservative commentator. Her addition will bring some much-needed balance to the Post's blogs, as they continue to play a larger part in the paper's reporting efforts.
For what it's worth, Weigel registered his approval of the hire on his blog. He also rejected the notion that Rubin had been hired to fill the spot he left vacant:
I'm not privy to how these decisions are made, but I was hired in April to join the national desk, the politics section of the paper/web product; Rubin joins the opinion side of the paper. I covered the conservative movement with an inside/outside perspective; Rubin is absolutely in and of the movement. What we have in common is immediacy bordering on OCD -- I don't think Rubin can let any news go un-analyzed, which is what you want in a blogger/reporter/pundit.