Photo-illustration by John Ueland.
Jennifer Rubin, the Post’s first right-wing blogger, takes pains to point out that she doesn’t fight with Greg Sargent, who pens Plum Line, the Post’s liberal blog. “There is no competition or rivalry between Greg and I,” she says in an e-mail.
But all the Post writers seem to be fair game. Ezra Klein, who has fostered the “reported opinion” writing that Rubin says she practices, is part of what Rubin calls “the left punditocracy” and one of the “media surrogates” of the Democratic Party.
Rubin has whacked op-ed writers Richard Cohen and Eugene Robinson, and Sargent has come in for some harsh words as well.
“The Post, unlike a lot of journals, encourages dialogue that goes back and forth,” Rubin says. “It’s unique in the mainstream media.”
Says editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt, who hired Rubin and Sargent: “It’s what you want that space to be.”
In four months, Rubin has occasionally turned her forum into a shrill zone. That might be because the Post is her first newspaper job.
Sargent came up reporting for newspapers. A New Yorker, he landed a Village Voice internship out of Hunter College. He then covered New York politics for the New York Observer and penned a city-politics column for New York magazine.
He then came to Washington, worked for the liberal American Prospect, and helped launch an election-coverage section for the Web site Talking Points Memo. In 2009, Rachel Van Dongen brought him to the Post’s WhoRunsGov Web site. Hiatt took charge of him last year.
Sargent, 43, has no desk at the Post. He works from the Capitol and from home in College Park, where he lives with his wife, who’s expecting, and their son. His sources are on the left; his goal is to break news, in competition with the Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, Politico, and others. “Everyone wants to scoop each other,” he says, “and credit each other.”
During the 2010 campaign season, he broke stories about Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell’s fib about having attended Oxford and about Bill Clinton’s asking Joe Sestak to drop out of the Pennsylvania Senate race.
Rubin’s blog, Right Turn, is shorter on scoops and longer on attitude. Like Sargent, she writes mostly from home.
Rubin was born in a New Jersey suburb of Philadelphia. Her family moved to California, and she graduated from UC Berkeley and its law school, then practiced labor law in Los Angeles for 20 years.
“I was a little bored being a lawyer,” she says. “I had no aspirations to be a journalist.”
Rubin moved to Northern Virginia in 2005 with her husband, an accountant, and two children. She pitched a profile on Mitt Romney to the Weekly Standard “on a whim.” The editors bit. “I’ve been writing ever since.” She freelanced for two years, then signed on with Commentary, where she honed her conservative prose.
Rubin, 48, posts six to ten times a day during the week, settling scores and serving up red meat for red-staters. She might write about books or lawyers or Sarah Palin or Tim Kaine, “one of the least distinguished Virginia governors in recent memory.”
In her opinion.
This article first appeared in the April 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.