Nate Silver is certainly a worthy addition to the Times' roster -- and the paper later updated its post to note Silver's political slant, but this hiring demonstrated how the liberal mainstream media outlets are trying to remake the blogosphere in their own images.
Is this a conscious strategy -- or something else? At one point a few years ago, the Post had briefly hired conservative blogger Ben Domenech, but that was short-lived. His resignation provided cover for those who advanced the notion that conservative bloggers weren't ready for prime time.
But now, it seems to conservatives that the WashPo has settled on a brand every bit as liberal as the hated HuffPo. Just as MSNBC attempted to compete with Fox News by hiring the Ed Schultz, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow triad, the Washington Post appears to be morphing into the print (and online) version of MSNBC.
Perhaps it's less a strategy than an example of liberals simply operating in their own comfort zones. "When the dinosaur organizations of old media go looking for people who will attract traffic and generate profit online, they generally use a simple hiring approach: they hire people they know, people they like, or people who might be useful foils and attention-grabbers," said Ben Domenech, now the editor of the newledger.com.
"Thanks to the personal knowledge and reading patterns of editors, the first two categories are almost entirely populated by online personalities on the ideological left, which means that, with few exceptions, conservative hires fall into the latter category," Domenech added. "Conservative hires are typically picked either to be infamous and attract controversy, or because their benign reputations show they will only criticize their own side of the aisle."
Regardless of the reason, it matters.
"It is a problem because increasingly the print versions of the papers feed off the content generated on their websites, much of which is produced by leftwing bloggers in collaboration with the leftwing echo chamber," RedState's Erick Erickson told me. "Who knows how much of it is put together first on the left's JournoList."
To be sure, the Post's roster includes conservative syndicated columnists like George Will, Charles Krauthammer and Michael Gerson as well as Kathleen Parker -- an unpredictable centrist who often leans right. And New York Times defenders argue they have both David Brooks and Ross Douthat. But syndicated columnists are not the same as on-site, full-time employees – and even if they were – there is a difference between running an established columnist such as Charles Krauthammer versus elevating a young blogger like, say, Ezra Klein, to the status of a Washington Post reporter.
As John Hawkins of the popular blog, RightWingNews told me, "Mainstream media outlets like New York Times and Washington Post are only interested in catering to liberal sensibilities. So, they hire leftists to represent the liberal point of view and people who are willing to tell liberals what they want to hear about the right."
As a conservative, I suppose I should have faith in the free market to fix this problem. Tucker Carlson, who started the Daily Caller, and Philip Anschutz, who had bankrolled the DC Examiner and similar papers around the country, apparently trust that solution, as does media baron Rupert Murdoch.
Ben Domench puts it this way: "Bloggers don't need to be hired by media organizations with losses in the hundreds of millions each year to get a press pass. In the meritocracy of the new media -- which we really should just call 'the media' now -- the best voices rise to the top, becoming influencers with wide audiences, using their power to directly alter debates, and gaining easy access to the top echelon of politicians and leaders. And that is, without question, a good thing."
But I'm skeptical.
Because it's unlikely the good folks at the Times or the Post will solicit my advice, I've chosen to advise my friends in the mainstream media vis-à-vis this column. In case it turns out that the Post and the Times are seriously open to the possibility of one day hiring a conservative blogger, I have helpfully compiled a list of 10 conservative bloggers whom they should consider (frankly, I could provide a list of 100 worthy nominees):
1. Jim Geraghty – A blogger at National Review's "The Campaign Spot," Jim Geraghty is one of the right's best political bloggers and analysts and should be on anyone's short list.
2. Tim Carney – Currently a writer at the Washington Examiner, Carney is also the author of such books as, "The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money." He's a small-government conservative at a time of big government. The timing couldn't be better.
5. Ed Morrissey – In recent years, Morrissey has become one of the nation's preeminent bloggers, for one of the most-read conservative blogs, HotAir. (Watch Rush Limbaugh announce Ed Morrissey as CPAC's "blogger of the year."). Despite his iconoclastic stances on issues like gay marriage, Morrissey is widely respected by conservatives.
6. John McCormack The Weekly Standard's John McCormack has emerged as a top-notch political reporter. Aside from his penchant for becoming part of the story (see NY-23 and Massachusetts), McCormack would seem to be a perfect addition to any outlet looking to find someone from a center-right perspective who cares about getting the facts right.
10. W. James Antle III is associate editor of The American Spectator and a contributing editor of The American Conservative. Antle is particularly adept at covering political campaigns. As election season heats up, a major outlet would be wise to steal him from the Spectator.
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