Tuesday was a big day over at the Washington Post with the announcement of the departure of one blogger and the bringing in of another. Left-wing blogger Ezra Klein who had been overseeing a supposedly ideologically neutral section of the paper’s website called “Wonkblog” will no longer be working with the Post. Supposedly, he was in a dispute with the paper’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, over some large-scale online project for which he wanted funding.
Joining the paper will be the blogging team put together by UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, known in the web world for his libertarian-conservative political views and his love of data and free speech. Unlike Klein, however, Volokh and his co-bloggers will not make the pretense that their ruminations are utterly devoid of ideological thinking.
While Klein’s departure was announced today by the Post, there was no mention of where he will be moving to next. The New York Times reported that he had decided to start his own news website but had not, at present, signed a partnership arrangement with anyone else.
While Klein’s discordantly named Wonkblog (two words that should never have been invented much less combined) became one of the Post’s more popular regular sections, he did come under criticism for his creation of a secret email discussion group called “JournoList” which encouraged left-leaning pundits and political aides to collaborate with supposedly objective journalists to generate both research and talking points. Since the list was exposed and shut down, Klein and his co-bloggers compiled quite a record of defending and cheer-leading for President Obama and other liberal Democrats while refusing to properly admit their own allegiances.
The Volokh hire is an interesting one as it brings some more balance to the paper while also ensuring that the intellectual calibre of the Post will increase. There has long been speculation that the Post’s new owner Jeff Bezos is a libertarian moderate. The recent move indicates those rumors may be correct. If they are, it would be a very welcome voice to hear in the American media discussion, one which is independent of liberal group-think but also forces conservatives to become more intellectually rigorous.
Of course, I may be reading too much into these first editorial moves that Bezos is making. Ultimately, only time will tell what his intentions are.