Friday, March 24, 2006


The question which will never be answered is just how Box Turtle Ben got his job at the Post. There was no "Wanted: Blogger" sign posted, and nor were they under any requirement to do so. But, as with all cronyism and wingnut welfare generally, there were connections, and people who knew people, and the general network in place. Young Box Turtle has had good PR from the beginning in Washington circles, as this 2000 article in the Post demonstrates:

At 18, Benjamin Domenech, of Round Hill, has landed himself a plum assignment in the world of inside-the-Beltway journalism. He writes a column, "Any Given Sunday," recapping the political talk television programs for the World Wide Web site of the conservative National Review magazine.

If there was a Top 10 list of young Loudoun County people to watch, he’d be on it. And agree with him or not, you would be hard pressed to deny that Domenech is a sharp writer with an obvious command of his national politics beat–especially considering that this is the first year he is eligible to vote.

"He really shows maturity beyond his years," said Richard Lowry, editor of the National Review.

Lowry said he runs into a lot of George Will-wannabes trying to break into national journalism circles at a very young age, but "few of them can actually pull it off. [Domenech] just seems to be just a couple steps in front of everyone else."

heh indeedy.

Not every 24-year-old college dropout gets to have an opinion column backed by the institutional grandeur of the Washington Post. Note I have nothing against people who lack pieces of paper certifying their completion of formal education, but that doesn't change the fact that given the current rules of the education game such pieces of paper are in fact an entrance requirement for people not named Box Turtle Ben.

It's also important to note that this is all just a continuing trend. Once upon a time newspapers handed out columns to seasoned journalists as an end of career bonus. Then, in part to satisfy screeching wingnuts crying about liberal bias, and in part to save money, they bought up syndication packages of mostly talentless wingnuts with little or no experience in journalism to balance the so-called "liberals" in the op-ed pages. And, as with Froomkin, whatever the "liberal" leanings of the existing columnists, their entire careers were based around a respect for objectivity and balance, for truth and reason, and were in no way part of a "grand liberal movement" the way that the conservative columnists are. In other words, they weren't hacks and propagandists.

I have nothing especially wrong with a bit of hackery, as long as it is fairly honest hackery, but it would never occur to the Post to hire the liberal equivalent of Box Turtle. And the hack gap persists...