Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 26, 2009

JOB SECURITY FOR THE PERPETUALLY WRONG.... We learned this morning that the New York Times is finally letting go of Bill Kristol, who wrote his final column for the paper today. What we didn't know is where Kristol is headed.

Keep his career trajectory in mind. Kristol, in 2007, wrote misguided, predictable, and dull columns for Time magazine. When Time fired him, the New York Times decided he'd be a great addition to its stable of columnists. Now, after a year of misguided, predictable, and dull columns, the New York Times has fired him, and ... wait for it ... the Washington Post is ready to pick him up.

By way of Ben Armbruster, we see that the Politico's Mike Allen reports:

Progressives will delight when they get to the italic note at the end of Bill Kristol's column in The Times today say, "This is William Kristol's last column." His one-year contract was up. Sources tell Playbook that he's now beginning a monthly column in THE WASHINGTON POST.

It's extraordinary to see the job security someone like Kristol enjoys, beyond his already-prominent roles running the Weekly Standard and serving as an analyst for Fox News.

In any other field, outside of conservative political commentary, Kristol's record would be nothing short of humiliating. He's been wrong, not only in his predictions -- you'll notice, for example, that John McCain was not inaugurated last week -- but in his analysis of most policy issues. And perhaps more importantly, as we discussed this morning, Kristol has a nasty habit of publishing columns with demonstrable, easy-to-notice factual errors, which the NYT had to run a series of corrections to address.

In what universe does the nation's second most prominent newspaper decide it wants to pay and publish the failed cast-off of its chief rival?

In most careers, falling up isn't this easy. If you keep getting fired for poor performance, it's usually difficult to find new companies willing to pay you to do the same job.

Kristol has obviously developed quite a racket. Nice work if you can get it.

Update: Kristol confirms to Michael Calderone that he will, in fact, be an "occasional contributor" to a Washington Post feature called,"Post Partisan."

Steve Benen 10:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (41)

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Sources tell Playbook that he's now beginning a monthly column in THE WASHINGTON POST.

Yeah, because conservative opinions aren't represented on the WaPo's Op-Ed pages already.

That, or the Post still had some credibility its idiot management hadn't squandered yet.

The "liberal media" strikes again!

Posted by: Gregory on January 26, 2009 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, let the GOP close its eyes and go to its Happy Place, why don't you? Kristol's blather has been cut back to once a month, and it's not as if anyone of consequence is paying attention.

Posted by: Will Divide on January 26, 2009 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

At least he's heading in the proper horoscopic direction. Having failed in his weekly column at the Times, he's going to a monthly at the Post. When he fails there, it's not hard to see him doing one of those year-end wrapup pieces. After that, best/worst of the decade? And apart from his friends, who actually reads the Weekly Standard?

Posted by: ericfree on January 26, 2009 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Whoops, link spam block ate my previous snark. Let's try a reformat:

Sources tell Playbook that he's now beginning a monthly column in THE WASHINGTON POST.

Yeah, because conservative opinions aren't represented on the WaPo's Op-Ed pages already:

Columnists Anne Applebaum David S. Broder Richard Cohen Jackson Diehl E.J. Dionne Jr. Marc Fisher Michael Gerson Fred Hiatt Jim Hoagland David Ignatius Robert Kagan Al Kamen Colbert I. King Michael Kinsley Charles Krauthammer Sebastian Mallaby Ruth Marcus Harold Meyerson Dana Milbank Courtland Milloy Robert D. Novak Kathleen Parker Steven Pearlstein Eugene Robinson Robert J. Samuelson George F. Will Fareed Zakaria

That, or the Post still had some credibility its idiot management hadn't squandered yet.

The "liberal media" strikes again!

Posted by: Gregory on January 26, 2009 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

This is great news. A monthly column will allow Kristol to write longer more substantive pieces that lay out a conservative vision, without being tied to the daily news cycle.

Posted by: Al on January 26, 2009 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

It's not just in publishing, failed hacks are rehired over and over again in this country because they belong to a special club called the elite. Once you're a member, you never have to leave. It's like being a "made man" in the Mafia.

Look at Obama's economic team, it's the same thing. We're suppose to gush over the wisdom of Larry Summers even though he helped guide us into this current mess when Clinton was president. Tim Geithener oversaw the NY Fed during a critical phase of the crisis and did not handle it particularly well, but we are told he is essential.

They were wrong, but we are told that we need them.

No wonder this country is going down the tubes.

Posted by: g. powell on January 26, 2009 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Next to the obscene levels of incarceration, one of the biggest unreported scandals in the US is the chronic idiocy of our media commentators.

Posted by: Grumpy on January 26, 2009 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

He may be wrong, but he's wrong the right way. You can't go wrong endlessly recycling the same old shibboleths.

Columnists, baseball managers, bank CEO's -- as long as you're wrong the same way everyone else is wrong, you're right.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on January 26, 2009 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

In order to be awarded the position, did he have to defeat Cliff May in mud wrasslin'?

Posted by: berttheclock on January 26, 2009 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

"failed hacks being hired"

You mean, such as, Bernie Goldberg and Dick Morris by BillO?

Posted by: berttheclock on January 26, 2009 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Let's just say it:
Kristol is the "Conservative" Welfare Queen. And I'll be he drives a car at least as nice as a Caddilac.

Or perhaps it's the Establishment's Affirmative Action (much like George W. Bush). He has the pedigree, so his track record doesn't matter. No matter how badly he does, he will always have a job because of mommy and/or daddy.

For a lesser example, see Jonah Goldberg.

Posted by: BuzzMon on January 26, 2009 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Bill Kristol should be banished to Alaska, that he may be governed by a journalism major.

Posted by: Ted76 on January 26, 2009 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

This might have something to do with it:

Most awesome William Kristol anecdote evah!

Posted by: wmr on January 26, 2009 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

With his penchant for failing at everything he tries, and yet keeps getting promoted, Bill Kristol could be President.

After all, the precedent's been set.

Posted by: rob! on January 26, 2009 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

What name is more recognizable as the Neocon Establishment? That's what keeps Kristol on the op/ed circuit. He could say the moon is made of green cheese (I think he did that once & blamed it on Pelosi) and still get published because the papers are buying the name not the contents of the column.

It gives them balance credentials. That they think they need a prominent neocon in order to appear fair is the problem.

Posted by: angler on January 26, 2009 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

From once a week to once a month. He's going in the right direction.

Posted by: g on January 26, 2009 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't they call that series: "Post, Partisan"?

Posted by: Fraud Guy on January 26, 2009 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

It would be one thing if moon-faced Kristol actually represented some 'balance' on the editorial pages of either the NYT or WaP, but of course he doesn't. He is a connected propagandist, and never gets beyond spouting the conventional conservative pablum. As a prognosticator he is a laughable failure, but as has been pointed out, he is a made-member of the elite, and doesn't have to do anything productive, not unlike George W. Bush (in his case it's hereditary).

I can't imagine anyone with an oz. of intellect paying any attention to Kristol, but by virtue of being a member of the elite tribe his eminently slappable face is constantly before us as some sort of reputable pundit. That's a big problem with our media: too many pundits and not enough journalists.

Posted by: rich on January 26, 2009 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Now a Washington Post feature called "Most Partisan" I could believe. Not all douchebags defy gravity/dignity.

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on January 26, 2009 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

"In most careers, falling up isn't this easy. If you keep getting fired for poor performance, it's usually difficult to find new companies willing to pay you to do the same job."

Sadly, from my experience in industry, this is not necessarily true. Indeed, poor performance is spun as "making tough decisions" and the recklessness is somehow perversly equated with entrepreneurial spirit.

Posted by: Steve Engber on January 26, 2009 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

So we won't have William Irvingson Kristol to kick around anymore -- at least we won't have him in the Times.
But what I really want to know is whether columnists, as a class, matter to the newspapers that use them. Outside of the big cities, most papers have a stable of locals covering mainly local issues, plus a substantial number of national columnists whose works are bought from syndicates. I wonder whether anything beyond the whim of the local publisher is behind the selection. To the newspaper reader, columns are, essentially, free. The paper won't cost any less without them or any more with them. I suspect that no visible number of readers will base the decision to plunk down 50 or 75 cents or a dollar based on which national columnists grace the op-ed pages: the whole crew could be replaced or eliminated for all the difference it makes. At least, I think so. I'm not aware that the question has been studied. Does anyone in the business have any better notion?

Posted by: CJColucci on January 26, 2009 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Someone is surprised that Fred Hiatt, who has singlehandedly turned the Washington Post into the Washington Pest, would hire Kristol??

What's really laughable is that Forbes.com lists Hiatt as an influential media liberal, thus proving why the financial establishment is so stupid they have created the current situation, depending as they do on reliable, accurate information from solid, serious places like Forbes.

Had Fred Hiatt been in charge of the WaPo in 1973, Nixon would still be President in Perpetuity.

Posted by: TCinLA on January 26, 2009 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Failing upwards - Sounds like a tie-in between Home Depot and Chrysler, eh?

Sports managers and/or coaches are a bit different- For example, in baseball, most really work for organized baseball, per se - Yes, Lasorda bled "Dodger Blue" - However, if one is fired, the rule is to keep one's mouth shut and not criticize any owner - Billy Martin was the exception - If you follow that rule, someone else will hire you, perhaps, not in a similar capacity, but, you will be hired to work for another club.

Posted by: berttheclock on January 26, 2009 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

"If you keep getting fired for poor performance, it's usually difficult to find new companies willing to pay you to do the same job."

Unless, of course, your name is George W. Bush.

Posted by: Mike Thomas on January 26, 2009 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

And it isn't just that he is so consistently wrong in his facts, his recommendations and his predictions....it's that he has no following. As I have noted several times, his column NEVER makes the list of most e-mailed at the Times. He has no real following....oh sorry, I do think Sarah must read him occasionally out of gratitude for his having shoved her into the national spotlight as the "future of the Republican Party." So far, that seems to be one thing he got right.

Posted by: dweb on January 26, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

If I posted a record like Kristol's at any publication, I would have been fired before six months were out. But neo-cons are "special" and need to get all the affirmation they can. Liberals are grown up enough to take the criticism, and some of them even give it back. With interest sometimes.

Posted by: Darsan54 on January 26, 2009 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

If the WaPo's "Post Partisan" will be a chat room for political operatives who already have a media profile (e.g., Mike Murphy, Donna Brazile), then Kristol could fit in. Just so he's not branded as an op-ed columnist.

It's one thing for a writer to hew closely to the policy initiatives and political spin of the Dems or Reps -- most do. It's quite another for the writer to be an active player in the party, as Kristol has been in the GOP.

Ideally, of course, op-ed writers should be independent, even quirky, voices. But that seems to be too much to ask of our bigfoot media operations.

One more reason the blogosphere is leaving print and broadcast media in the dust.

Posted by: allbetsareoff on January 26, 2009 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

It gives them balance credentials. That they think they need a prominent neocon in order to appear fair is the problem.
Posted by: angler on January 26, 2009 at 11:05 AM

"balance credentials" ...

can someone point out in any major newspaper a regular column by a "prominent" democrat?

Posted by: karen marie on January 26, 2009 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

It occurs to me that these papers want to show the illusion of placating a potential conservative readership, but to maintain their core values they find the most incompetent conservative voice out there.

Posted by: Bill on January 26, 2009 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

It occurs to me that these papers want to show the illusion of placating a potential conservative readership, but to maintain their core values they find the most incompetent conservative voice out there.

Posted by: Bill on January 26, 2009 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Now, after a year of misguided, predictable, and dull columns, the New York Times has fired him, and ... wait for it ... the Washington Post is ready to pick him up."

Injecting "Wait for it" randomly between parts of sentences says "I'm a middle aged white guy who thinks he's Jon Stewart"

Posted by: steve on January 26, 2009 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

"In what universe does the nation's second most prominent newspaper decide it wants to pay and publish the failed cast-off of its chief rival?"

In a universe where newspapers are own by corporatists who have a conservative world view and therefore want more conservative voices on their editorial pages and where conservatives who can write AT ALL are few and far between?

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 26, 2009 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

This is why custard pies (and better, random kidnappings followed by waterboarding) are the way to deal with people like Kristol. He's never going to shit himself out of a job.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc on January 26, 2009 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

There was a list from Forbes about the top 50(?) liberal media personalities. Fred Hiatt of the WaPo was listed somewhere in the top 10. It goes without saying that Hiatt had a lot to do with hiring Kristol.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on January 26, 2009 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Kristol like Fred Barnes (also of the Weekly Standard) are just a couple of Rupert Mudock's many sockpuppet, right-wing GOP water carriers.

Rupert Murdock's Weekly Standard... nothing but GOP, right-wing propaganda.

How these jerks and the Weekly Standard can claim any legitimacy after being WRONG so often is just nuts.

Posted by: David on January 26, 2009 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

What columnist got more attention? Blogs are written about his blogs. You don't have to be reasonable to sell papers. What is more seductive to read than columns that are so stupid that you get all worked up and are compelled to fire off responses?

Posted by: Luther on January 26, 2009 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe he's paying them. That would certainly make more sense.

Posted by: mroberts on January 26, 2009 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

One more reason to ignore the WaPo (op/ed's). I guess there's just too many empty hours of the day for 'conservatives' after drooling over the WSJ op/eds and chortling over the latest musing of Rush, and Hiatt wants that demographic.

Posted by: Strangely Enough on January 26, 2009 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Instead of an outright release, the Times should trade Kristol to the Washington Post. Kristol and ten monkeys with typewriters, to be named later, for George Will? Seems like a fair trade. Kristol writes about as well as 9,990 monkeys with typewriters.

Posted by: majun on January 26, 2009 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect hiring Kristol has more to do with generating Ad revenue for the paper rather than his skill (sic) at reporting. Yeah, his fact-checking and truth-telling lack professional standards, but it's the sort of standards certain Republican corporations enjoy.

Posted by: JWK on January 26, 2009 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

Thank goodness the NYT canned him! I started reading his piece on my iPhone earlier, but I gave up after a couple of paragraphs focused on "why conservatives have been right" (all tangible evidence to the contrary), so I missed the bit about it being his last contribution. Hopefully he will be ungainfully unemployed by this time next year...

Posted by: Cindy McCant on January 26, 2009 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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