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August 15, 2013 3:25 PM Heat-Seeking Missive

By Ed Kilgore

It takes a lot, believe me, to feel any sympathy for WaPo blogger Jennifer Rubin. But Lord have mercy, this passage from the advice offered at Washington City Paper by former WaPo ombudsman Patrick Pexton to the Post’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, is really brutal:

Have Fred Hiatt, your editorial page editor—who I like, admire, and respect—fire opinion blogger Jennifer Rubin. Not because she’s conservative, but because she’s just plain bad. She doesn’t travel within a hundred miles of Post standards. She parrots and peddles every silly right-wing theory to come down the pike in transparent attempts to get Web hits. Her analysis of the conservative movement, which is a worthwhile and important beat that the Post should treat more seriously on its national pages, is shallow and predictable. Her columns, at best, are political pornography; they get a quick but sure rise out of the right, but you feel bad afterward.
And she is often wrong, and rarely acknowledges it. She was oh-so-wrong about Mitt Romney, week after week writing embarrassing flattery about his 2012 campaign, calling almost every move he made brilliant, and guaranteeing that he would trounce Barack Obama. When he lost, the next day she savaged him and his campaign with treachery, saying he was the worst candidate with the worst staff, ever. She was wrong about the Norway shootings being acts of al-Qaida. She was wrong about Chuck Hagel being an anti-Semite. And does she apologize? Nope.
Rubin was the No. 1 source of complaint mail about any single Post staffer while I was ombudsman, and I’m leaving out the organized email campaigns against her by leftie groups like Media Matters. Thinking conservatives didn’t like her, thinking moderates didn’t like her, government workers who knew her arguments to be unfair didn’t like her. Dump her like a dull tome on the Amazon Bargain Books page.

Wow. So far nobody at WaPo, including Rubin, has responded. If I were her, I’d be huddled under my desk whimpering. From my few brief encounters with her, I’d guess she has a much thicker skin than I do, but still: the devastating specifics aside, hearing your own firing described by a former senior colleague as the best and easiest call your new ultimate boss could make has got to be a bit unnerving.

Unlike, say, Richard Cohen (who has been operating at a more rarified level of privilege for an insanely long time), I doubt Rubin has the sort of entrenched position at WaPo that would make her bullet-proof. Yeah, if she were fired and not immediately replaced by someone equally spin-tastic, there might be some blowback from conservatives, but then again, it’s not like she hasn’t gone out of her way to offend many of them as well (viz. this post just a few hours ago). Who knows, perhaps the natural managerial reaction to this sort of external and very public full-throttle attack could actually help make her a “made” woman at the Post, empowered to keep doing what she’s doing perpetually. We’ll have to see, and afincionados of the Rubin ouevre are welcome to offer their reactions in the comment thread.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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