Monday, March 9, 2009

Congratulations, Rich Miniter!

E-mail press release:
Richard Miniter Appointed as Washington Times Editorial Page Editor
Washington, DC: Richard Miniter, a best-selling author, award-winning investigative journalist and former Wall Street Journal editorial writer, has been named Editor of the Editorial Pages and Vice President of Opinion by the Washington Times.
Mr, Miniter, who wrote two New York Times bestselling books, and won awards for investigative reporting at the Sunday Times of London, is a former editorial writer and columnist for the Wall Street Journal Europe and His articles have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal as well as The Atlantic Monthly, Reader's Digest, National Review and The New Republic. He is a regular commentator on Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, C-Span, and CNBC and many nationally syndicated radio programs.
The role of Vice President of Opinion is new, encompassing the editorial page, the op-ed page, and commentary pages. (Since the paper's founding in 1982, Editorial and Commentary pages were managed separately.) The new Vice President of Opinion will also oversee all online opinion, the opinion component of the new Washington Times wire service that distributes to more than 90 newspapers and other new products to be unveiled in the coming months.
Appointing Mr. Miniter is the latest in a series of bold moves designed to remake The Times, Washington Times President and Publisher Thomas P. McDevitt said. “After an extensive nationwide search, we are extremely pleased to find Richard Miniter, a veteran of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and a bestselling author.”
The editorial pages will remain true to conservative values, while reaching out for independent-minded and thoughtful writers of op-eds, Mr. McDevitt said. "We've been listening to our readers and they tell us they want sharp, fact-based analysis that challenges the conventional wisdom in Washington. Expect us to be more distinctive, contrarian, authoritative and conservative on our opinion pages. The challenges we face in this nation demand the very best opinion, analysis and a forum for solution-oriented debate. Rich Miniter and the team we are assembling at The Times are committed to providing that for our readers every day."
The Opinion pages will feature a new design in its print editions, starting on Wednesday, and the online Opinion pages will boast a new, easier-to-navigate design later this Spring. "While many of our readers' favorite syndicated columnists will continue to appear on, the mix on our print pages will emphasize original, news-breaking and exclusive content," Mr. Miniter said. "We value the reader's time and they want the very best insights as well as the finest selection of their favorite writers."
Mr. Miniter was a member of the award-winning investigative team of the Sunday Times (of London) in 2001 and 2002. Reporting from Darfur, Mr. Miniter was the first to publish an interview with a Janjaweed warlord in the field.
His New York Times bestselling book "Losing bin Laden" was a groundbreaking investigation that drew on dozens of senior Clinton Administration sources to reveal that the threat posed by bin Laden was known long before the September 11 attacks--and too little was done.
Mr. Miniter's second New York Times bestseller "Shadow War," based on war-zone reporting from Iraq, North Africa and Southeast Asia, was among the first to contend that the U.S. is winning the war on terror. Mr. Miniter's first book, "The Myth of Market Share," was published by Random House and was hailed by The Washington Post as a "must read for business executives."
Mr. Miniter is as comfortable in a newsroom as he is with U.S. Marines in Iraq, with rebels in war zones in Uganda, Sudan and Burma, and along smugglers' routes in Laos, Thailand and Cambodia, interviewing everybody from warlords and prime ministers to diplomats, soldiers and spies.
The Opinion pages will have a new operating philosophy while remaining faithful to its signature conservative values. "The Internet has transformed the environment for opinion writing,” Mr. Miniter said. “Every blogger has an opinion and the market for pure opinion is saturated. We are going to be different. Readers want editorials, op-eds and columns based on reporting and news. We expect our editorial writers to act like reporters and then add insight and perspective to explain what it all means. And we will respond at blog speed."
"Though our two departments operate separately, I'm thrilled to have our opinion pages under the stewardship of such an accomplished journalist as Rich,” said Washington Times Executive Editor John Solomon. “I know Rich will honor The Washington Times' extraordinary editorial tradition built on the shoulder of giants like Tony Snow and Tony Blankley while transforming our print and online opinion for the 21st century with the same deep reporting and insight he has demonstrated through his career as an editorial writer, reporter and best-selling author.” (Emphasis added)
Congratulations, Rich.

UPDATE: Over at AmSpecBlog, I call attention to Miniter's quote about how the blogosphere has revolutionized journalism, a point I've tried to make for years:
The privileged positions within the newspaper industry enjoyed by op-ed columnists like David Brooks have been rendered obsolete by the rise of the blogosphere. Were there any justice in the world, the New York Times would have axed overpaid opinionators like Brooks and Maureen Dowd rather than eviscerating its news-reporting operation.
Good to see that finally someone in the newspaper business gets it.
I cannot be accused of sucking up to Miniter with any ulterior motive. I put in a decade at The Washington Times and walked away in January 2008. The timing of my exit was consciously chosen so as to assure that I left on good terms, and could not be accused of burning a bridge. And then Tom McDevitt made the mistake of hiring Jeff Birnbaum, who went on C-SPAN to proclaim that, until he was hired, the newspaper had lacked "real journalistic standards."

Rule 4 went into effect at that moment. Birnbaum can do nothing to repair the damage caused by his vicious insult to the men and women who have devoted their careers to making The Washington Times one of the world's most important news organizations.

The vile creature who would do such a thing -- to disparage his own employer and the professional journalists with whom he worked on a daily basis -- is unworthy of the respect that should be accorded to the lowliest clerk in the newsroom. Frankly, I was astonished that Birnbaum was not immediately terminated for making that statement, which seriously undermined morale in the newsroom.

During CPAC, I chatted briefly with former reporter Amanda Carpenter, and congratulated her on recently having been hired by The Washington Times. As is my habit when speaking to bloggers, I gave her the old "you haven't been linking me enough lately" patter. (Nobody can ever link me enough. My slogan is, "All Your Links R Belong 2 Us.")

Amanda responded, "Stacy, I can't link you as long as you're badmouthing Birnbaum. . . . He's my boss."

More's the pity, eh? That a fine journalist like Amanda should be required to report to a contemptible worm like Birnbaum is one of those cosmic injustices that breaks your heart.

Nevertheless, as I assured Amanda, I will be happy to link her work, just as I am happy to link Andrew Breitbart's column and the other excellent work produced by the good people of The Washington Times, who now include Rich Miniter. It would be unjust to hold against these good people their misfortune of being associated with The Worm, which is not their fault and which they are powerless to remedy.

Once, I contemplated vengeance against someone who had done me wrong, but was wisely counseled by my older brother, "Stacy, just let it go. Bad things happen to bad people. That a--hole who f---ed with you will keep f---ing around until he f---s with the wrong person, and that will be the end of him."

Wise advice, bro. And so it will be with The Worm. When the hammer falls on him, it will not be because of anything I've said or done, but because of his own evil. He will be the author of his own destruction, which will descend on him suddenly and from some unexpected source. I've seen this happen to many others who have thought they could deal unjustly with impunity.

Knowing this -- that The Worm's evil will destroy him -- I cheerfully told Amanda Carpenter to be careful. She should conduct herself at The Washington Times in such a manner that when the hammer comes down to smash The Worm, none of the slime splashes on her.

Thus, no one can doubt the sincerity of my hearty congratulations to Richard Miniter, as my avowed enmity toward The Worm means that my friend Rich cannot do me any favors, nor even admit that he is my friend.

Yesterday, I swore a vow not to bash Ross Douthat again until after Easter, a vow undertaken to please a friend who advised me that by bashing Douthat, I was undermining my standing with certain conservative intellectuals who are friends with Douthat. My friend could not understand why I would do this, despite my explanation of the sturdy principle involved. (Namely, when a 23-year-old Harvard graduate accepts a contract to write a book about what it's like to attend Harvard, he has participated in an act of injustice that requires atonement.)

Nearly everyone in Washington political circles is motivated by two factors: Career ambition and partisan ideology. At times, it's hard to distinguish the influence of these two factors, since advancement is usually accorded to those who successfully advance partisan interests. As a result, people in Washington avert their eyes to injustices -- the backstabbing betrayals, the self-serving cynicism -- rather than risk antagonizing the friends of the enemies they might make.

However, this is in itself an injustice, even to one's "enemies." I've got more than all the enemies a man could ever want. By nature I am a gregarious, cheerful, fun-loving person and, if it were up to me, the world would be filled with 6 billion of my personal friends. So if anyone considers himself my enemy, this is his choice and not mine.

When I see someone acting unjustly, which is the proper course of action as a Christian: To remain silent, or to admonish them? So when I see Evan McLaren disparage the entirety of CPAC as a convocation of time-serving cowards, the Punk-Smacking Heard 'Round the World is not an act of vengeance against McLaren. Rather, I am doing him a favor for which he should be grateful.

Rule 4 works that way. If I were concerned only with my own personal short-term benefit, I would have remained silent about Birnbaum's viciousness, and when Miniter was elevated to his new position -- a plan that has been in the works for several months -- I might have profited thereby. But that's not how I roll.

I write for money, but there are limits to my shamelessness in the pursuit of a dollar. If Birnbaum had insulted me by name, it would be the act of a Christian to turn the other cheek. But he purposely insulted people of goodwill -- excellent journalists whose wastebaskets he is not fit to empty -- and for this grievous wrong he has not even begun to atone.

How could I stand to see my face in the mirror if I let such an act as Birnbaum's pass without comment? Never mind the fine journalists, both living and dead, whose erstwhile worthy services to the Times were the intended objects of The Worm's insult. There are good, decent, hard-working people now in the newsroom of The Washington Times who suffer daily because of Birnbaum's continued employment at the newspaper, who carry the additional burden of being unable to mention the ignominy of being required to work for him.

They cannot speak out, but I can, and I will. Given the cosmic principle that my older brother expressed to me years ago -- Bad things happen to bad people -- when The Worm goes down, it will likely have nothing to do with anything I have said about him. Rather, it will be a natural consequence of his own evil.

Grateful as I am for the honor at having been associated with The Washington Times, how should that gratitude rightly be expressed? It would be distinctly ungrateful if I were ever to say anything nice about Jeff Birnbaum. And such are the circumstances of modern "employment rights" law that, no matter how deeply Tom McDevitt regrets hiring Birnbaum, he can't fire him now without inviting a lawsuit and a firestorm of bad publicity.

The Worm has 'em by the short hairs, and he knows it, and he thinks himself invulnerable. Nevertheless, the hammer will inevitably fall.

Congratulations again, Rich. And like I told Amanda, watch out that none of that splashing slime hits you.

1 comment:

  1. See? Despite your egoistic protestations to the contrary, you're a hopeless piker when it comes to shamelessness.