On Slate this morning, Jack Shafer takes the Washington Post to task in a response to the accusation (by the Post’s own domestic-policy blogger Ezra Klein) that the paper gives over too many of its op-ed contributions to politicians.
The problem isn’t the politicians though, according to Shafer, whose analysis of the last month’s pages shows up relatively few political bylines. The problem is that the op-ed page’s “real estate” is too often occupied by a two dozen-strong coterie of regular writers.
So absolute is the regulars’ lock on the Post op-ed page that it’s not uncommon for its every column inch to be filled by one of them (…) Instead of discovering America’s next great pundit, I’d rather the Post give its op-ed page some breathing room by undiscovering a few of its current chin-strokers and recruiting unconventional writers (John Ellis, James Altucher, and Heather Mac Donald, just to get the conversation rolling) to fill the space with a few ideas we haven’t heard 25,000 times before. (I’m talking about you, Richard Cohen.)
In a perfect world, a publication is edited for readers. In the imperfect world that we inhabit, too many publications are edited for the benefit of their staffs and their friends and associates. The Washington Post op-ed page, which hoards its space for its own, is one of the worst offenders.