A Change of Suits at WaPo

Jim Newell at Salon reports “Ronald Reagan’s No. 1 superfan now runs the Washington Post“:

The Washington Post has been a much more ambitious beast since Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos bought the paper last year. Since it’s been in private control, and no longer subject to public shareholder pressure, the paper has invested in hiring dozens and dozens of new staffers with all sorts of cutting-edge “online experience,” writers who understand that the journalism of the future will involve getting lots of people to click on lots of stuff. No word yet on when/how this all becomes profitable. But that’s for the suits to worry about….

… Fred Ryan, who’s just been named the Post’s new publisher, is among the more Reagan-y people to ever walk the earth — somewhat less Reagan-y than Ronald Reagan himself, but probably more Reagan-y than Nancy Reagan or other members of the Reagan family.

“Ryan’s background in Republican politics,” the Post’s own write-up of the leadership switch notes, “also is certain to raise questions about the direction of The Post’s editorial page, among the most influential in the nation.” Make what you will of that “most influential in the nation” business. But as for the part about how it’s certain to “raise questions about the direction of The Post’s editorial age” — well, yeah! This Fred Ryan cranks the Reaganmeter dangerously into the red

More at the link. I’m sure you all have strong opinions about this.

68 replies
  1. 1
    hells littlest angel says:

    I for one vow to continue not subscribing to or reading the Washington Post.

  2. 2

    Meh.

    And I mean that sincerely and emphatically.

    In other news, water is wet.

  3. 3
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    News! news! The Balloon Juice team won 2nd place in the Murphy’s trivia quiz tonight!

    Details to follow.

  4. 4
    catclub says:

    @hells littlest angel: More a case of no longer ( occasionally) reading Wonkblog.

    OTOH there is a guy at the LA Times who is really good. His name escapes me.

  5. 5
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Woot! We’re #2! We’re #2!

    ;-)

    Congratulations! Well done!

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  6. 6
    Mnemosyne says:

    @catclub:

    I’m guessing it’s Michael Hiltzik.

  7. 7
    catclub says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yes! Thanks.

  8. 8
    danielx says:

    “Ryan’s background in Republican politics,” the Post’s own write-up of the leadership switch notes, “also is certain to raise questions about the direction of The Post’s editorial page, among the most influential in the nation.”

    You don’t say.

    Ranks right up there with the belated recognition of Eric Cantor’s investment banking genius.

  9. 9
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    Maybe they are shoring up their footing on the right to better enable a sharp pivot to the le…. Yeah, I don’t believe it either.

  10. 10
    Violet says:

    The Post’s editorial page, among the most influential in the nation.

    Who the hell cares about the editorial page? It’s opinion. I’ve got opinions too but nobody pays me for them.

    As newspapers continue to wither, I wonder how long the overpaid editorial page people will continue to collect those big paychecks? They can’t be worth what they’re being paid.

  11. 11
    Mary G says:

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  12. 12
    danielx says:

    @Violet:

    What, you don’t believe David Brooks is worth every penny of what he gets paid? I am shocked, shocked…

  13. 13
    Wag says:

    ” Make what you will of that “most influential in the nation” business. But as for the part about how it’s certain to “raise questions about the direction of The Post’s editorial age”

    Does this mean that Fred Hyatt will be out of a job for being too left wing?

  14. 14
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet:

    Well, it’s all (mostly) due to Elizabelle and Seabe and Sean.

    But I helped.

  15. 15
    Violet says:

    @danielx: I don’t think he is. But the NYT must think he is. I can’t figure out why that is. Do people really subscribe to the NYT because of David Brooks? Does he make them that much money? Maybe they get a cut of his book sales or speakers fees. Or he’s so well known that they can send him out as a NYT representative and he lends an air of authority or cachet or something. He’s not deserving of the latter but people are dumb.

  16. 16
    LosGatosCA says:

    If Bezos purchased the Post just to out-Murdoch Rupert that’s pretty shockingly stupid.

  17. 17
    billb says:

    HAHA the rethuglicans took over our Portland paper, and SURPRISE no one read it anymore.
    It is going down in flames.

    I had hoped BEZOS had an innovative idea, sadly it appears that all of us will totally ignore it as a rethuglican rag, while it quickly becomes meaningless.

    Jeff call me, I can keep you from looking like a ditz.

  18. 18
    Joey Giraud says:

    I’m disgusted by how many Americans glorify rich philanthropists. Relying on the beneficence of random rich people is no way to run a country, especially since so many rich people got that way by luck and our first-in-the-door-gets-everything legal regime.

    ( I know the article isn’t about philanthropy per se, but it’s not unrelated.. )

  19. 19
    BGinCHI says:

    I assume Bezos is trying to kill The WaPo and has chosen this guy to take it to the All Hallows level.

    Seriously. It’s like choosing a vegan to run a butcher shop.

  20. 20
    Cervantes says:

    “Ronald Reagan’s No. 1 superfan now runs the Washington Post“

    Actually, as mentioned earlier today, Katharine Graham was a good friend of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, from the 1960s on.

  21. 21
    amk says:

    laughing at the naivete of the infallible “founding fathers”.

  22. 22
    Cervantes says:

    @BGinCHI:

    It’s like choosing a vegan to run a butcher shop.

    How so?

  23. 23
    Joey Giraud says:

    @Cervantes:

    Friends aren’t the same thing as fanboyz.

    Friends often disagree.

  24. 24
    GregB says:

    It is the newspaper business equivalent of giving an Uzi to a 9 year old.

  25. 25
    Joey Giraud says:

    @amk:

    Plenty of those Fathers warned us about this kind of thing.

    Were they supposed to rise from the grave to keep us from screwing up their work?

  26. 26
    RaflW says:

    @Violet: Editorial pages matter, maybe, a little, for lifelong paper readers over 55. And those folks skew rich, but as an advertising demo, they kinda suck.

    In other words: Moar drain-swirling in newspaper land.

  27. 27
    RaflW says:

    Duplicate

  28. 28
    amk says:

    @Joey Giraud:

    And yet, they went ahead and did them anyway. Thus the naivete.

  29. 29
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Joey Giraud: “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @amk: Which things do you want to point out as specific mistakes?

  31. 31
    Eric U. says:

    @Violet: of all the failed predictions I have made, my idea that the internet would kill the opinion page first is an error similar in magnitude to “peak wingnut,” just not quite as funny. I suppose it’s mostly because the opinion page gives bloggers something to write about, so it garners the most clicks. Unfortunately, it’s still the most useless part of the paper

  32. 32
    eemom says:

    Still giggling with glee over having finally canceled my subscription to the thing. May never stop. Each glorious morning that it does not show up in my driveway is fresh cause for celebration.

    It’s like finally having the sense to figure out that you do not, in fact, have to begin each day by banging your head on the wall, only funner.

  33. 33
    KG says:

    Until something develops that can deliver news better than newspapers, they’re going to exist. They need a better way to make money, but hell if I know what that is at this point. The biggest mistake they made was originally making their content free online. Once they did that, there was no reason to subscribe or pick a copy up at the donut shop because you were paying for yesterday’s news. The new meter thing is a push back, but it’s not going to fix it. And that doesn’t even get into the issues of advertising.

  34. 34
    Violet says:

    @Eric U.: It’s still shocking to me that people get paid to spout their opinions on a weekly basis. Maybe if they got paid 25 bucks a pop it might be understandable, but these guys make a ton of money doing just that. It’s insane.

  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @eemom: I haven’t had a dead tree paper since my ex’s WSJ subscription during B-School (Fuck B-School} ended. I miss it. Newspaper is really good for cleaning mirrors.

    ETA: Funner?

  36. 36
    Suzanne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): I hated the clutter caused by the paper. I remember stacks of them. We get free papers thrown into our driveway that we didn’t subscribe to, and they go straight into the circular file without coming inside.

  37. 37
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Suzanne: Seriously, use them on mirrors and glass. They cut down on streaks like you wouldn’t believe. I hate, hate, hate housecleaning, but that made me learn some ways to do it well.

  38. 38
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @amk: Would you prefer to that we were celebrating the two hundred and something years of the reign of the Royal House of Washington in the US now?

  39. 39
    MoeLarryAndJesus says:

    The Post has been nothing but fishwrap for years now.

    This change just makes it permanent. RIP.

  40. 40
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: Also, the Constitution is a negotiated document. Just about everything in it as compromise. The BATNA was the country falling apart. So they papered over a lot of shit and bullshitted about a bunch of other shit., but thanks to John Marshall, Abe Lincoln (ably assisted by GENs Grant and Sherman), and FDR, the basic form has let us muddle through to today. I have enough English ancestry that muddling through (sometimes with a bit of dignity) is all I really expect. After all, Rome was rather ugly under the surface.

  41. 41
    Mike J says:

    @RaflW:

    Editorial pages matter, maybe, a little, for lifelong paper readers over 55.

    Can anybody explain why network newscasts insist on showing the big daily meme from reddit/facebook.whatever? Anybody under 117 has already seen it, and anybody older than that doesn’t care/isn’t allowed to change the channel away anyway.

    I do not fucking care about some brat screaming about a baby. I didn’t care when I saw it a week before, and I don’t care when somebody in a shiny suit introduces it on the “news”.

  42. 42
    Mnemosyne says:

    My brother discovered today that sometimes a kitten can have both an adult canine tooth and a baby canine tooth — the baby tooth doesn’t always fall out right away. Photo of similar cat for illustration since the photo he sent me wasn’t that great.

  43. 43
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Mike J: New version of “If it bleeds, it leads?”

  44. 44
    Radio One says:

    the washington post op/ed page has sucked for decades. I’m definitely not going to read an all new pro-Reagan post

  45. 45
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Radio One: FWIW the publisher does not generally have editorially control.

  46. 46
    Mike in NC says:

    A couple of weeks ago we were exposed to the filth that today passes for the Washington Post, and it is indeed vile shit. But at least it was free…

  47. 47
    smedley the uncertain says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): “BATNA” ???

  48. 48
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @smedley the uncertain: Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement = BATNA. It is how you measure the value of a negotiated deal. If it is better than your BATNA, do the deal. If not? Don’t.

  49. 49
    Violet says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): Doesn’t the publisher hire the editoriali page writers?

  50. 50
    Baud says:

    Lord, I hope they don’t hire that douchebag George Will.

    Oh….

  51. 51
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    The WAPO being openly handed to a famously right-wing Republican is the newsprint equivalent of someone like Joe Lieberman or Judy Miller ending up on FOX News; no matter what they kept claiming about being independent or “centrist” you always knew that’s where they were headed.

  52. 52
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Violet: Publisher generally hires the editor. And then stays away. Historically. A right wing publisher isn’t going have a left wing paper. But the Post isn’t a left wing paper today.

    Graham left Bradlee alone. That is the standard.

  53. 53
    eemom says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    Funner?

    Got no standards since I sold my English major soul to the devil over “incentivize”.

  54. 54
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @eemom: “incentivize”. ??? That’s not a word. I don’t care what any dictionary says. I hold to some standards.

  55. 55
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    Is the site not fully loading for anyone else on FF? It works fine following a comment from me, but, if i simply refresh, it hangs over twitter platform or google. Doesn’t seem right. Posts appear, but the little green circle keeps spinning.

  56. 56
  57. 57
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Baud: It doesn’t really matter. I run a bunch of scans tomorrow. Tonight, I have about three songs left – and I just rediscovered Haircut 100. Save yourself.

  58. 58
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): I’ll run those scans, damn it, Jim. Fucking typos.

  59. 59
    Sherparick says:

    Well, the continuing drift so called MSM media to corporate shillism and Murdochian corruption is one of the reason I moved to blogs, Alternet, and the foreign press (The Guardian, the Financial Tiimes, and Al Jazeera) for my news information. You don’t get better economic and business news, comment, and analysis than you can find at “Calculated Risk,” “Angry Bear,” and “Economists View.” The problem with Bezos and Ryan taking over the WaPo news is not the editorial page (I mean from NeoCons Thiessen and Krauthammer beating the war and torture drums to Climate Denialism to their biggest theme “Social Security delenda est” (translation: Social Security must be destroyed) only in “wingnut” ville is that considered a “liberal” editorial page.) It will be the corruption and slanting of regular news coverage, particularly stories that won’t be covered (fracking, global warming, wage theft, civil rights, voting rights, worker safety, and defense contract overruns and abuses (the stories that Dana Priest and Tom Ricks won Pulitzers for the WaPo in the Oughts). Instead there will lots of stories on Benghazi!! and the IRS!!! and government workers going to conferences and actually being allowed to stay in places with beds that serve warm food!!! Basically, the line will be that “Government does not work” and should not do anything except bomb people, and that it should do often.”

  60. 60
    Marc says:

    You left out the best part.

    Wait for it…

    Wait for it…

    “Ryan told the Post in an interview that he planned to keep executive editor Marty Baron and editorial page editor Fred Hiatt on board.”

  61. 61
    Marc says:

    Forget rearranging the deck chairs; this is like firing the owner of the Titanic but keeping the captain on the payroll.

  62. 62
    Downpuppy says:

    @Marc: Marty Baron is a pretty solid editor.

    Fred Hiatt is in a class by himself, thank goodness.

  63. 63
    Cervantes says:

    @Downpuppy: Your comment brings to mind a dunce cap.

  64. 64
    LAC says:

    @eemom: indeed. Every so often, our local Safeway will let some poor schmuck set up a table flogging WAPO subscriptions. It was kind of hard to not avoid going by the table and he asked if I was interested. I started laughing and said “oh god no!” Awkward silence and me going “oh look. Strawberries on sale.”

    And now with the taint of tiger beat on the Potomac, I can’t even be bothered to click on it to laugh at Jennifer Rubin’s latest moronic musings.

  65. 65
    Woodrowfan says:

    idiotic business decision. DC already has 3 rightwing papers (Times, Free Beacon and Examiner), two of which are given away free. The closest thing to a liberal paper is the City Paper, which is weekly and only covers local stories. There’s the Falls Church News Press, but it’s all local news, only weekly and only in one small suburb. So there is no daily mass circulation liberal, or even slightly left-leaning moderate newspaper in the area. You’d think an actual intelligent businessman would notice that this area always votes from 60% to 90% Democratic (60% is the further exburbs, 90% in DC proper). Why in Gods name would we need ANOTHER rightwing voice when there is an unfilled market for a left-leaning one? It’s like a car dealer looking at an area where most people drive GM cars, there are already several Ford dealers and deciding to only sell Fords!

  66. 66
    Keith G says:

    @Woodrowfan: I doubt that this dude, or Bezos, will take the Post into wingnut land (more than it is). He is from the establishment wing of the GOP. His boss throughout the 80’s and into the 90’s was one of the last pragmatic leaders of the GOP.

  67. 67
    drkrick says:

    @Woodrowfan:

    You’d think an actual intelligent businessman would notice that this area always votes from 60% to 90% Democratic (60% is the further exburbs, 90% in DC proper).

    The Post has seldom been even an acceptably good local paper since the ’50’s. The focus has long been to challenge the NYT as the national paper of record. There was never any reason a billionaire from the other side of the continent was going to change that. This is a visibility/prestige play, not an attempt to run a viable business.

  68. 68
    JustRuss says:

    Ryan’s background in Republican politics, also is certain to raise questions about the direction of The Post’s editorial page

    Filed under Questions That Answer Themselves.

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