The Washington Post shocked the liberal world by firing liberal columnist Harold Meyerson—not over ideology, but because he failed to attract enough readers for the Post to justify his continued employment.
Editorial page editor Fred Hiatt explained to Politico the rationale for firing Meyerson:
The Post opinion section takes pride in publishing a wide range of views, including progressives Eugene Robinson, EJ Dionne, Ruth Marcus, Greg Sargent, Paul Waldman and Katrina vanden Heuvel and contributing columnists Rachel Maddow and Danielle Allen. We’ve been pleased to publish Harold’s columns for the past 13 years, but he failed to attract readers as these others have. And while our decision should never be made based only on clicks, I think it would be arrogant to entirely ignore what our readers are telling us.
Liberals who weren’t happy with the decision included Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who tweeted that “There are few progressive voices in corporate media. @HaroldMeyerson is one of the best. His insights will be sorely missed by Post readers.”
Well, at least by the few people who bothered to read his column.
While the Post has remained a liberal paper after being bought by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Meyerson’s firing may mark a shift in policy that just because someone is liberal, it doesn’t mean lifetime employment is guaranteed, as seemed to be the case during the Graham era.
Bezos has largely left the editorial side of the Post alone, but he has made moves to improve the business side of the money-losing paper. Meyerson’s firing is an example of this new approach—columnists will need to justify their existence.
This provides a golden opportunity for the Post to replace Meyerson with a conservative voice, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.