Very good Ezra Klein profile

You can read it here, by Benjamin Wallace, excerpt:

One evening last January, I sat with Klein at the MSNBC studio near American University in Washington, D.C., as he was getting ready to guest-host The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell. It was clearly part of an ongoing audition for his own show. But even though Klein has a pleasant TV persona, you could see the tension between his desire to be good at hosting and the sense that it wasn’t the most comfortable fit. When a producer suggested that Klein ask Barney Frank about supposed anti-gay remarks made by Chuck Hagel, the nominee for secretary of Defense, Klein deflected: “I just don’t think that attack on Hagel is very interesting.” Later, he anguished over his opening line about Obama’s choice of Hagel. “I kind of want to write, ‘It was the worst day for neoconservatives since the day Vice-President Cheney shot a dude in the face,’ ” he said to me. “Which is a funny way to open the show. But I feel like, Do I need to poke Dick Cheney? This is the thing about TV that I do find hard: It rewards a sharpness that I wouldn’t use in my writing.”

This is the piece on Ezra which captures him pretty well and I found it interesting the whole way through.

I recall, by the way, the last time I mentioned Ezra on this blog there were — as any time I mention a well-known blogger, columnist, commentator, or Wonkblog creator — rude comments.  The same happens for say Thomas Friedman or David Brooks or a variety of others and I am reminded of Jonathan Swift’s remark that “Censure is the tax a man pays to the public for being eminent.”  Try doing their jobs for a week or two.

More generally, I wish to make a few points.

First, a lot of us out there who write, or who do economics, or who blog, know each other.  We get on together, or not, based on a lot of factors but not mainly whether we agree on a bunch of political questions.  Personally, I find taste in food, music, and movies to be better predictors of a sense of mutuality than politics.  Those are ideologies too!  (Should we not discuss Krugman’s taste in music a bit more and his views on fiscal policy a bit less?  It’s OK enough stuff, but why can’t he listen to Bach more?  Why can’t he promote this?  Does he not yearn for a fugue or a complex raga in lieu of Arcade Fire, at the appropriate margin that is?  Or some early Brian Eno?  On science fiction I have kinship with him, though not exactly the same tastes.)

Second, when it comes to the category “working hard continually to improve what he does,” in the very top tier of people I have met — ever — is Ezra.  Also Paul Krugman.  Also Alex.  These people deserve special appreciation, no matter what else you might disagree with them on.  And furthermore these people should never be underestimated.

No, I cannot explain to you how Ezra’s new venture might make money (or not), but in its broadest terms think of it as a platform for measuring value and then adjusting.  Successful ventures almost always evolve into something other than their exact origins.  That doesn’t mean it will succeed financially but it is an important piece of perspective.  Furthermore financial success is only one kind of success and it is not always the one most worth pursuing.

Third, if we are going to play the ideology game, why not do it on a global scale?  What’s so special about the national level for politics?  Virtually all Americans share so many preconceptions about the world it is a mix of embarrassing and disconcerting.  If you, as an American, are getting too bent out of shape about the other Americans you disagree with, I say you need to spend more time in Russia, Haiti, and India, for a start.

End of sermon people, thanks for listening.


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