by Conor Friedersdorf
Since he joined The Washington Post lots of people have been attacking Ezra Klein. The latest is Kenneth Anderson, who blogs at The Volokh Conspiracy. He is bothered by the fact that a person so young has been hired as a commentator, especially since he's never worked as a reporter, a usual prerequisite for becoming an opinion writer at a newspaper. Though I often disagree with Ezra, find his faith in progressive policy solutions naive, and even occasionally write blog posts criticizing his work, I regard him as among the best policy bloggers on the Internet, and I am particularly puzzled by the specific critiques laid out by Mr. Anderson. I say that as someone who is older than Ezra, if only by a few years, and who did work as a newspaper reporter before trying my hand at commentary, benefiting from the experience.
Mr. Anderson writes, "Klein's career has consisted entirely, so far as I can tell, of delivering himself of many opinions." That isn't how I see it. The value Ezra adds is due to largely to the deep policy knowledge he accrues, and his ability to explain very complicated proposals and legislation in concise, easily understandable language that is impressively accurate, especially given how quickly he produces that kind of writing. As my friend Peter Suderman wrote in a blog post congratulating Ezra on being hired at The Washington Post, "Ezra Klein not only cares about policy, he cares about making it accessible without dumbing it down." His ability to do so seems like a skill worth having at a newspaper in the nation's capital. And I can't really see how his utility would be much improved had Ezra spent a few years covering City Council meetings, as I did. What about spending a few years reporting on the health care policy beat? Well isn't that actually what Ezra does now?