Political Analysis vs. Tech Business in the Real World, or, Why Ezra Klein Might Not Conquer the World

Interesting and news-to-me numbers from Nicholas Carlson at Business Insider with some insight into why the Washington Post was willing to make what seemed to the political pundit class such an obvious mistake as allowing the Brilliant Young Star ® Ezra Klein to leave them for other internet pastures.

Son of Broccoli / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-NDSon of Broccoli / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Turns out that the same company, Vox Media, that poached Klein and his Wonkblog did the same successfully a few years back with the Engadget blog, on tech business and culture, and did well with it under the new umbrella of The Verge.

But those two worlds of journalism are way more different than I knew, proving that the world (healthily) is more interested in tech business than they are in Washington brouhahas and Bigthink:

Unlike Engadget, Wonkblog is tiny.

....Wonkblog averages 4 million pageviews per month.

By comparison, when Vox raided Engadget, Engadget was huge. In December 2010, Engadget had more than 12 million unique visitors and more than 200 million pageviews......

With various reasonable guesses, Carlson concludes that:

....a safe estimate for Wonkblog 2.0 is that it will generate $500,000 in annual revenues for Vox in its first few years. [But] [f]or the bottom line figure, [Vox CEO Jim] Bankoff will probably need red ink. Klein already has 8 staffers and he wants to hire 22 more. Each staffer will probably cost at least $100,000 in salary and benefits. 

And getting fresh traffic, even with old stars, isn't that sure a thing:

....three years after...Vox raided Engadget, The Verge is now up to 10 million unique visitors per month – about 83% the size of Engadget back then.

Vox is, of course, thrilled to have a site that is 83% the size of Engadget in 2010. 

But, in 2016, will it be thrilled to have a site that 83% the size of Wonkblog in 2014? 

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  • John||

    Most of the day is filled with various nut punches. But once in a while there is something that makes you feel a little better for a while. Right now the Washington Post no longer employs Mr. Jounolist but does employ the Volkh Conspiracy which today features an article on the history of black gun ownership and the importance of guns to blacks' struggle for equal protection.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Not just Klein, but his posse like Dylan Mathews. The guy graduates last year and he "covers taxes, poverty, campaign finance, higher education, and all things data." He has all the qualifications for covering PTA meetings, except that he'd get rolled by whatever the PTA board was selling.

  • John||

    The first article on that page is Can the Voting Rights Act Be Saved? because someone without a law degree much less any knowledge of voting rights law is totally the person whose opinion I want to hear regarding its continued validity.

    It would be one thing if he were writing hard news. Reporters have always covered stuff they didn't really know much about. But that is an analysis piece. He is pretending to tell the reader about the legal intricacies of the Voting Rights Act and give an opinion on its future, as if he actually knows anything.

  • Loki||

    He isn't paid to actually know stuff, he's paid to feel and then express those feelings in a way that get braindead readers to emote the same way.

  • PapayaSF||

    Plus, of course, the annoying prog assumption that without something called "the Voting Right Act," we wouldn't have voting rights any more.

  • Sevo||

    And without the government, we wouldn't have any "rights" at all!

  • Pro Libertate||

    Shouldn't he be writing classified ads or something? What the fuck is wrong with journalism now? It's always finding ways to get worse, it seems.

    I mean, think about it. Reading these "luminaries" is like reading the student paper at some university with a big J-school.

  • John||

    Obituaries Pro. In the old days new reporters started out writing Obits.

  • ||

    Nothing is more hilarious than useless, terrible partisan shitheel writers figuring out the hard way that their audience is completely TEAM based. Sorry, Ezra, you're going to have to take one for the TEAM.

  • John||

    Ezra actually thinks he brings value to what he does. It is bad enough that these people are paid political shills. But what makes it funny is that Klein is so stupid he doesn't realize it. He actually thought the post paid him because he was smart and was doing something only he could do.

    Sorry Ezra, there is a line of retards standing outside your office who will be happy to tell our nitwit readers what their daily talking points should be; no ten million dollar website required.

  • ||

    I'm hoping for some tears of some kind when he figures this out.

  • John||

    Yeah. When this thing fails or better yet never gets off the ground, the tears are going to be wonderful.

    Meanwhile Drudge will continue to count his millions. If I were Drudge, I would send Klein a six pack and a hundred dollar bill with my condolences the day the news of his bankruptcy breaks.

  • ||

    I almost feel evil for enjoying this, but Klein is so staggeringly stupid that I can't. He's the perfect example of who deserves this. Him and SadBeard. Actually, one can take pity on SadBeard because he's retarded. Klein has no such excuse.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The fact that he has had success speaks volumes about the utter stupidity of his readers--plenty of whom are educated and reasonably successful, income-wise. It's an absurdity I have trouble getting my hands around.

  • RBS||

    plenty of whom are educated attended the right schools
  • some guy||

    The fact that he has had success indicates that he isn't stupid. He's just good at telling people what they want to hear in a way that makes them feel smarter than they are.

  • John||

    Me too Pro. It is one thing to read someone Sasha Volkh or Ann Althouse. Agree with them or not, they are both law professors and thus at least speak with some authority on legal issues. But Klein is nothing but an obnoxious college kid.

    I am as against credentialism as anyone. But if you are going to give someone a big soapbox, they ought to be required to have some knowledge and experience in what they are speaking of. Klein is a "healthcare wonk" but has no medical training, no public policy training and has never worked in the field in any capacity. It would be like hiring you or me as a "Indian Cricket wonk". Well I watched some cricket on satellite a few times when I was in the Middle East. Guess that makes me an expert.

  • Grand Moff Serious Man||

    Here's the thing about Klein: he has a BA in political science from UCLA. That's it. He even tried to write for the Daily Bruin but was rejected.

    I have a BA in poli sci from UC Irvine, which means I have the exact same credentials as him.

  • John||

    I have a BS in economics Serious Man. Not a BA but a BS meaning I took some of that hard math stuff Klein avoided. And I at least have some understanding and experience in how government works even though its not in health care. I would say I am at least twice as qualified to write about the subject than he is.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    I would say I am at least twice as qualified to write about the subject than he is.

    *cue comments about Red Tony to support propaganda qualifications*

    Only yanking your chain, John!

    A quick glance at Wikipedia for Bernstein and Woodward shows how far the journalistic standard has fallen. Whatever their faults, both of them put in the time doing their jobs. Bernstein started off as a copy boy at 16. Woodward's hiring editor didn't think he had enough experience (after college and 5 years of Navy) so he ended up at a suburban rag for a year.

  • John||

    Yeah Lytton,

    Being a reporter used to be an actual job. Whatever you think about old school guys like Woodward and Bernstein, they could at least write.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    Don't compare yourself to Klein, sweetie. Credentials aren't everything. You're arguments are way more coherent.

  • John||

    Thank you lady.

  • Brett L||

    Not retarded, brain injured. He got Knock Out Game'd in DC.

  • John||

    His brain wasn't very good to begin with.

  • John||

    Klein thinks his shit doesn't stink. He is a nearly perfect example of undeserved success. It would unjust not enjoy this. Either Klein must fail or justice must die.

    He needs to end up serving coffee living off his wife's income blogging as the 500th ranked Kos Diarist.

    And don't forget Klein made his bones lying about Obamacare. He is probably Obamacare's number one hack.

  • Pro Libertate||

    If he fails in the short term, he'll probably be the next Secretary of State or something.

  • Grand Moff Serious Man||

    I'm guessing White House press secretary for the next Democrat administration.

  • Paul.||

    If he fails in the short term, he'll probably be the next Secretary of State or something.

    He'll replace Sebelius in the Biden administration.

  • JW||

    STOP GIVING ME NIGHTMARES.

  • GILMORE||

    "Pro Libertate|1.27.14 @ 4:25PM|#

    If he fails in the short term, he'll probably be the next Secretary of State or something."

    THIS =

    is not a joke. I bet dollars to donuts he ends up failing in this supposed 'journalism' stuff and goes straight to rent-seeking political flak. He wont notice the difference at all.

  • some guy||

    He is a nearly perfect example of undeserved success.

    Entertainment has value. He deserves every penny he can squeeze out of his idiot followers.

  • John||

    Some guy,

    If Klein understood he was a comedy act and were pulling some Andy Kaufman like long con, I would totally agree with you. But he is not. He actually believes he knows anything. He deserves none of the success he has had.

  • Paul.||

    If Klein understood he was a comedy act

    Why am I not laughing?

  • Raven Nation||

    "He actually believes he knows anything."

    Well, this is exactly what higher education tells people these days: 'here is the only true perspective on position X. You don't have to know anything about any non-X other than it must be wrong. Now, go defend X.'

  • Loki||

    You don't have to know anything about any non-X other than it must be wrong. Now, go defend X.

    And if non-X is a Conservative or Libertarian position, then it's not only wrong, but evil and it's OK to to use a mixure of ad-homs and strawmen arguments against it.

  • Pelosi's Rabbit||

    If Klein understood he was a comedy act and were pulling some Andy Kaufman like long con, I would totally agree with you. But he is not. He actually believes he knows anything. He deserves none of the success he has had.

    It is possible for you both to be correct. Both Taylor Swift and her fans think she is a great musician and songwriter. They're wrong. But it doesn't matter if I think that; I'm not the target audience.

  • Pelosi's Rabbit||

    Entertainment has value. He deserves every penny he can squeeze out of his idiot followers.

    This. A lot of folks waiting for his failure overestimate the intelligence of his readers. There are a lot of people lining up to eat this shit.

  • Loki||

    There are a lot of people lining up to eat this shit.

    Overheard at a Taco Bell executive meeting?

  • dektor||

    "Klein is so staggeringly stupid..."

    ...that's he's more famous and he's made more money than you'll ever make? Why the hate? I'm genuinely curious.

  • John||

    Dektor,

    Klein has made an upper middle class living in Washington. But I would be surprised if he has made any more money than I have and I don't know about Episiarch, but it wouldn't shock me if he has made more than Klein.

    And Joey Buttafuoco is famous. That doesn't mean I want to be him.

    The hate is because Klein is an idiot who has an influence way beyond what his skills and intelligence merit and worse, he is a lying sack of shit who does nothing but shill for the Democrats while pretending to be objective. He is worthy of hate and scorn.

  • dektor||

    "Klein is an idiot who has an influence way beyond what his skills and intelligence merit"

    So?

  • John||

    "Klein is an idiot who has an influence way beyond what his skills and intelligence merit"

    So?

    That means he deserves to be called out as such, which is what we are doing.

  • dektor||

    "he deserves to be called out"

    OK.
    And this accomplishes what exactly?

  • John||

    OK.
    And this accomplishes what exactly?

    Stating the truth. And telling the truth is bad why?

  • dektor||

    "Stating the truth."

    As you see it.

    "Telling the truth is bad why?"

    It isn't, when you're actually doing it. Of course, what is happening here is just opinion, not "truth," wouldn't you agree?

  • dektor||

    Is this thing on?

  • dektor||

    I guess John left the room.

    I'll summarize: John's opinions are "the truth," and Ezra Klein's opinions are not "the truth." Because John's opinions are true and Klein's opinions are false, Klein must be "called out." What this rhetorical exercise accomplishes may be described as "stating the truth." Because "stating the truth," even when it's just an opinion, is righteous.

  • Dweebston||

    And your point in explicating John's logical wiring diagram is...?

  • Adam330||

    Anyone know how much Klein was making at the Post? Or how much Vox is giving him?

  • Pro Libertate||

    I just heard that Spitzer's whore got married. I wonder if the guy she married was Klein?

  • PapayaSF||

    No, some other lucky fellow.

  • ||

    I would find it hard to marry someone who fucked Spitzer...

    At least she got payed for it, which almost could justify it.

  • dektor||

    "I wonder if the guy she [Spitzer's whore] married was Klein?"

    Why would you wonder that?

  • Paul.||

    Whoring is a personal matter.

  • Paul.||

    Although I do love the sight of disgraced public figures tossed uncerimoniously into the private sector beating on the door of the public sector screaming "Lemme iiiiinnnn!" like so much Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters.

  • wareagle||

    Ezra's also, what, 12? So he has no sense of perspective older writers might have, the ones who were actual reporters before moving to the op-ed section.

  • John||

    He has no professional training in any field and has never held an actual job in private industry or government. Like his fat pathetic twin Sad Beard, he has never done anything in his life beyond spewing bullshit.

  • Grand Moff Serious Man||

    Didn't Klein explicitly state that his goal was to create a news site that added "context" to facts and stories?

    Is there any way to look at that statement as something other than him saying he wants more freedom to propagandize for Team Blue?

  • John||

    No. And worse, he didn't feel the Washington Post provided him with enough opportunity to propagandize. Think about that for a moment.

  • dektor||

    "Ezra's also, what, 12?"

    He's 29, the average age of America's libertarians.

  • Redmanfms||

    Hi Mary, take your meds and fuck off.

  • SugarFree||

    "Who's Mary? HURR DURR!"

  • fish||

    Ezra actually thinks he brings value to what he does.

    He did and does bring value....to MSNBC anyway! He and Maddow got to share a common wardrobe and make up.

  • RBS||

    Each staffer will probably cost at least $100,000 in salary and benefits.

    Ummm, what?

  • JW||

    You thought that fluffers worked for cheap?

  • Surly Chef||

    Yeah I was confused by this also. Writers don't make that much, even after factoring in benefits. I mean some do but, generally only the best ones and they don't make that much from one source of income. Why do you need a staff of 22 six figure salaries (with bennies) to write a fucking blog? A blog of commentary, not you know, actually doing stuff then writing about it.

  • ||

    Indeed. Klein and company are so divorced from reality it's insane.

  • Surly Chef||

    As an example seriouseats.com just posted that they are looking for an "editor-in-chief". (Don't live in NYC or I would have applied). I can guarantee that job doesn't get paid that much, they don't have anywhere near that staff, most of them are part time, you have to go places, edit other people's work, and anal retentively test recipes with the scientific method, oh and you have to do it from your home. 2,300,000 visitors per month, that aren't bot hit's (as pointed out by Loki)

  • Paul.||

    Salary and benefits. Hell, I may make $100,000 once you add in benefits. Well, maybe. Ok, probably not, but once you add in benefits, your calculated salary can be pretty high.

  • Pelosi's Rabbit||

    Most of that is on the benefits side thanks to Obamacare.

  • Surly Chef||

    $30k salary + $70k bronze plan. Free healthcare!

  • Loki||

    Wonkblog averages 4 million pageviews per month.

    And most of those were spambots, including a poorly scripted one by Klein himself that ran from his home PC while he was at work for the sole purpose of getting as many pageviews as possible.

  • dektor||

    Misapplied priorities here regarding Klein's recent career choice.
    Who cares?
    That's rhetorical.
    Better: why does anyone here care?

  • GILMORE||

    "Rhetorical questions are rhetorical!DERP"

    Why do you care what anyone cares?

  • Adam330||

    I wonder how many of those page views were people browsing the post website and just happened to see an interesting wonkblog headline. I certainly did that. But there is absolutely no way I'm going to seek out Klein's website.

  • PapayaSF||

    If they have Disqus comments, I might troll offer insightful, contrary opinions, in a polite way, from time to time.

  • ||

    The other Vox Media site The Verge has a custom log-in.

  • datcv||

    This turd of a Man Child® is just going to end up writing for Huff Post in a year or two where he will again receive accolades and huzzahs from the teeming masses of progressive true believers. Maybe he can fill in for Maddow when she is on vacation. It'll be the HERPA DERP KOCH BROTHERS TEATHUGLICAN Hours.

  • ||

    I read Polygon which is part of Vox. They posted an article by Ezra about Ezra joining Vox.

    All the comments wondered what the hell just happened and why the article even existed. The article did not at all explain about Ezra joining Vox. It was just him pontificating about who the fuck knows what.

  • PapayaSF||

    The next time Klein or Yglesias write about the need for "diversity," reference this image.

    By the way, Yglesias' grandfather was film critic for the CPUSA's Daily Worker in the late '40s, which means he must have been a Stalinist. (Hat tip: Steve Sailer.)

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