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Reviews |  Is a New York Times columnist seriously running for governor?

Will Kristof follow up and run as Democrat to replace limited-term Democratic occupier Kate Brown? Does he have a chance? Will he connect with Oregon voters on the stub, or push them away by acting like he’s on a book tour raining his standard morality down on the masses? Does he really want to give up the prestigious post of free-roving Time columnist for the thankless job of bringing lawmakers together and cracking down on administrators? And if he achieves a long-term victory, what kind of guv could he be?

Throughout the 1800s, when newspapers were ideological vessels and the men who ran them filled them with political ideas and notions and skimped on reporting, it was not uncommon for journalists to hold office or to take up positions. rise in political parties, writes Hazel Dicken-Garcia in Journalistic Standards in Nineteenth Century America. The two jobs were often combined into one. “[E]a very famous 19th century journalist had a powerful political influence, ”she says. the National intelligence editor-in-chief was mayor of Washington. A co-founder of the New York Times won two terms in Congress. An editor of Albany Diary reigned as the boss of the Whig party, a New York Newspaper editor-in-chief helped run the Tammany company, and so on.

Journalists always believed there was a way to look politicians down and they could do a better job of government than the palookas that got elected. Who knew better than a journalist how the system worked? Who was better connected, spent more years honing their rhetoric and speech, and had a stronger plan of action than an opinion writer?

Historians tell us that the standard that journalists made good public servants began to be withdrawn during the Civil War era, as newspapers focused more on events than ideas, and practically disappeared in the 20th century. century when newspapers turned into storytellers and storytellers. bearers of drama. But as recently as 1872, New York Herald founder and editor Horace Greeley ran for president. Press Baron William Randolph Hearst ran for the White House in 1904 and 1908. (He also won two terms in Congress, but they don’t count because the Democratic machine picked safe seats for him.)

Although a few journalists have been elected since then, prominent columnist candidates like William F. Buckley Jr. and Patrick Buchanan have not shared their luck. A columnist like Buckley or Buchanan or Kristof may not be a bad government executive, but voters have come to view the job of columnist as separate from office holder, perhaps because they are. come to see that the job of columnists is to criticize others. behavior when the incumbent is supposed to bang heads and deliver results. Mark Zusman, Editor-in-Chief of Willamette Week pointed out to me that voters in Oregon sometimes surprise the experts. Tom McCall, an experienced print and broadcast journalist in the Pacific Northwest, turned to politics in the mid-1960s and eventually became governor, during two terms. NBA veteran Chris Dudley, who played 16 seasons in the NBA (including two for the Portland Trailblazers), came close to 1.5 percentage points to take over as Oregon governor in 2010, Zusman adds .

“There are some very sharp people who work with Kristof, and the field has so many contenders that he might be able to break through given how different he is from the Polish veterans who circle this race,” said Zusman. “But is Nick the kind of guy who will write for dollars?” “

I can’t speak for Kristof’s temperament for work. He seems to have remained rooted in Oregon, where he operates a family orchard. The only time I met Kristof he seemed less stuck in himself than most elite columnists, so that matters. But what evidence is there that he can fundraise, campaign, lead his party, deal with the opposition party, and manage the Oregon bureaucracy? When voters elected a non-politician as the chief executive of the United States, we had a four-year carnival of political pranks and lies. Kristof may not be such a miserable administrator as Donald Trump, but will Oregon voters elect a governor whose most immediate professional experience has satisfied a handful of people in a newspaper office as the field is packed? of candidates who understand organizations and politics? Kristof, whose trophy shelf is full of all the top prizes, has challenged sex slavers for many years, but does he have the courage and patience to fight with a state legislature, even in a state with good government like Oregon?

Writers like Kristof, who has spent a lifetime directing paragraphs, can be excellent philosophical kings. Some even have what it takes to run a small principality. But I wouldn’t trust one to be my governor.


Every journalist should be king for a day. Send coronation details to [email protected]. My email alerts ran for the class president and got beaten. My Twitter food stuffed the ballot boxes and was beaten too. My The RSS feed is an active conspirator against the government.

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