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The Washington Post’s Online Politics

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Politico’s Ben Smith reports on the Washington Post’s push into online punditry, with a focus on the newest hire David Weigel.

Weigel, no fan of mine, is a sharp writer and brings energy, an iconoclastic outlook and especially intellect to his feature for the Post, “Right Now.” He’s not a conservative, but he is not a liberal either, which only slightly undermines Smith’s main point about the Post’s recent online tilt:

The Post now hosts three of the strongest liberal blogs on the Internet, and draws a disproportionate share of its traffic and buzz from them, a significant change for a traditional newspaper that has struggled to remake itself.

Besides Weigel, who came from the liberal Washington Independent, the Post also has Ezra Klein, hired last May from the American Prospect to bring his brand of deliberately wonky policy writing to its website; and Greg Sargent, who the paper said Tuesday will soon move to the Post itself after coming from TPM to run a political blog for the Post-owned website,, as well as two editors recently hired from the Huffington Post to handle online aggregation and social networking.

What is most interesting about Smith’s piece is that many of my listeners and readers believe that Politico has drifted very much to the left in its last two years. Neither the Post nor Politico has a brand name conservative writer/blogger at work for them. Hot Air, National Review, Powerline, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, increasingly AEI’s blog and of course Townhall and others represent the greatest resources for mainstream conservative thought –none of them MSM outlets– and because D.C. journalism has always been populated by left-of-center scribblers, it isn’t surprising that the new extensions of old media into new media are as one-sided as the papers and networks have always been.

I wrote years ago that the byline had become the brand, and the biggest bylines at every media outlet –whether old or new media or a hybrid– will define the brand in the eyes of the public. If the Post wants to regularly attract center-right readers, it will have to steal away one of the brightest young stars of the conservative firmament: Jim Geraghty, Mary Katharine Ham or Guy Benson, for example, or all three and more.

But Weigel is very interesting and a good edition to their virtual masthead. He’s just not a conservative.



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