A week into the launch of Vox Media, New York mag interviewed Ezra Klein, who wants to clear up several points of contention. He’d also like people to get excited. Can everyone stop with the negativity and be more positive about his new endeavor? “Sometimes I read this stuff and I’m just stunned by the pessimism in it,” he told New York mag regarding the new strains of journalism sites out there. “I’m just stunned by how much people feel like nothing is ever going to work out.”
Let’s get into the Vox-esque way of doing things. So…who is Ezra Klein? He’s basically a decent person and journalist who sometimes comes off as condescending and smug towards his peers and the world-at-large. He likes yoga and fresh figs. At The Washington Post, he enjoyed “fuck you traffic,” which meant his bosses could f–k off while his Wonkblog reeled in a reported four million monthly page views. He created the now disbanded JournoList, a listserv for liberal journalists, some of whom used it as a venue to bitch about and butcher the conservatives they covered.
Now, onto the things that Ezzy clears up in the New York mag interview:
1. What he says: “I genuinely do love the Post. I’m genuinely, incredibly proud of and grateful for my five years there. It continues to be an awesome place.” Mirror translation: He genuinely does not hate The Washington Post. He genuinely loves them so much it hurts and he’s sick to death of anyone saying Marty Baron, Jeff Bezos and the gang stiffed him.
2. What he says: “The Post‘s decision that it wasn’t the right thing for them was a totally reasonable and probably correct decision.” Mirror translation: He doesn’t blame WaPo for not going for his idea of starting a brand new operation within the larger newspaper. It was time for him to leave the nest. And no, it wasn’t “eight figures” as has been repeatedly reported. What are you, stupid? Wait, what is stupid? Is there a “card” for that?
3. What he says: “The more folks in the media feel like it’s beneath them to answers questions like, ‘What is marijuana?’ or ‘What is Ukraine?’ the more we don’t have to compete with them. … I am ecstatic over that kind of mockery.” Mirror translation: If you’re a journalist, he hopes you think his site is simpleminded because A) He won’t have to compete with you on stories like “9 questions you were too embarrassed to ask about Gwyneth Paltrow” including “Who is Gwyneth Paltrow?” B) it’s for readers who are on par with baby monkeys, not the media, so the media can f–k off.
4. What he says: “Ultimately we need a lot more folks reading us than media people. I think a problem is journalism is being overly concerned with writing for other journalists.” Mirror translation: Don’t mistake me for one of those affected journos. I left all that behind me at WaPo, my first love. F–k journalists. What do they know? By the way…what is a journalist?
5. What he says: “I hired him not because he was a correspondent meant to be writing aggressive takes, but that he had a lot of talent as a writer in general.” Mirror translation: I semi-respect him for this one. Klein sort of doesn’t give a shit if you hate his new hire, LGBT writer Brandon Ambrosino. He happens to like the guy’s writing. But watch as he subtly throws the Vox Media fellow under the bus, saying, “He’s a really good guy. People felt that he was trying to offend or troll them, and I know that’s not how he saw his work.” But how did Ezzy see Ambrosino’s work? Who knows? But just in case his JournoList buddy Dave Weigel gets upset again, at least Ez didn’t fully take Ambrosino’s side.
6. What he says: “There’s been this competitive class created where somehow the Vox launch and the FiveThirtyEight launch are connected and they’re not. Felix Salmon had a nice piece on this.” Mirror Translation: They both have the geeky glasses look and they’re both mostly Jewish – yes. But no, he’s not Nate Silver and he doesn’t want to be Nate Silver no matter how great, successful and powerful Nate Silver is or how many times he has appeared on The Daily Show. Ever. Okay? His lips are puffier than Silver’s. He’s Ezra Klein goddammit. Even Prince Felix Salmon of Reuters says so. Read Salmon’s story now, which backs him on the vital point that Vox Media is not FiveThirtyEight and says that Vox was “definitely a more advanced advanced product” than FiveThirtyEight was when it launched. And stop saying it’s like FiveThirtyEight! But just in case there is something to FiveThirtyEight, he’s going to hire any kid who ever so much as glances at the site. And anyone named Nate from here on out belongs to Ezra.