Megan McArdle Hired as WaPo Columnist
While I don't always agree with her, I've never ceased to be amazed at the sheer vitriol she inspires, given that she's unfailingly polite, not discernibly partisan, and bends over backwards to acknowledge the merits of competing viewpoints.
Megan McArdle has taken the Boeing*:
The Washington Post today announced Megan McArdle will be a columnist for the Opinions section starting March 1. In this role, McArdle will write columns with a focus on the intersection of economics, business and public policy.
“Megan offers one of the liveliest, smartest, least predictable takes on policy, politics and everything else, from the history of washing machines to essential rules for living,” said Fred Hiatt, Editorial Page editor for The Post. “We’re excited to share her perspective and her distinctive voice with our readers and to deepen our coverage of economic and financial topics.”
Most recently, McArdle has been a columnist at Bloomberg View, where she has written about financial issues and politics for five years. McArdle has also written for The Economist, The Atlantic and Newsweek/The Daily Beast. Her book, “The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well is the Key to Success” was published by Viking in 2014.
I’ve been reading Megan’s work for a decade and a half and got to know here socially a bit once she moved to the DC area, although I haven’t seen her in years. While I don’t always agree with her, I’ve never ceased to be amazed at the sheer vitriol she inspires, given that she’s unfailingly polite, not discernibly partisan, and bends over backwards to acknowledge the merits of competing viewpoints. One suspects the intensity of the attacks against her will only intensify now that she has one of the biggest platforms in the opinion space.
*A coinage of Glenn “InstaPundit” Reynolds upon Mickey Kaus being hired from the blogosphere by Slate. Megan, of course, joined the Big Media more than a decade ago now but this is certainly a major step up in exposure.
“she’s unfailingly polite, not discernibly partisan, and bends over backwards to acknowledge the merits of competing viewpoints.”
This only gets 1 out of 3 if she gets a point for “not discernibly partisan” for only being a Libertarian about 3/4 of the time (with the rest of the time being pro-Republican). She is typically rude to those she disagrees with, and never backs off, even when shown errors in simple mathematics, much less in being the only Libertarian I have ever heard who believes not merely in assuming that planned demonstrations will turn violent, but that the proper way to deal with them is for the government to use force before they turn violent.
Further and more specific response outsourced to Scott Lemieux at LGM
I would like Dr. Joyner to respond specifically to the post by Scott Lemieux linked by “Moosebreath” above. It contradicts all but the personal anecdotes he made in this post.
The Peter Principle at work.
She’ll draw clicks. It doesn’t matter that she’s frequently wrong. That’s the feature, not a bug.
Well, he has to say something to justify it, I suppose, this is as good as any other
I agree that Megan is smart. I find her takes pretty predictable, though.
I guess they’re unpredictable if you’ve never encountered any libertarians.
I hadn’t read McArdle in years, finding her views shallow. More importantly, whenever she happened to write on a topic I knew about she had essential facts wrong or made a big deal out of something that might strike an outsider as odd but a knowledgeable person would realize was a triviality. To paraphrase an example from a better writer than me: she was the type of (foreign) reporter who would spend a couple of days in the US BS’ing with the taxi drivers taking her between bars and counting them as interviews, then return home and deliver 800 clever and insightful words detailing her discovery that even thought the US dime was smaller than a penny, it was worth more.
Her name came up on this blog a couple of months ago and after slamming her, I felt that I should check out some of her more recent stuff. I looked at two of her columns. The first concerned Pharma and asserted things that simply were not correct and then spent the rest of the column snarking about those things. And here’s what I said about the second:
And in 2012, again on this blog, I said
Here I dropped in to say that I have found Ms McArdle neither particularly smart nor amusing in presenting her ideas nor particularly interested in debate. And a bunch of people had said it so much better.
Ms. McArdle is notorious for getting her math wrong. For someone who claims to be so brilliant, she certainly doesn’t show it.
FWIW, what I (self) quoted above about McArdle matches my feelings about libertarians in general.
It’s been said about so many people before (i.e, David Brooks), but McMegan is the quintessential stupid person’s idea of what a smart person sounds like.
To add an outside view:
As a European I never had the chance to form a previous opinion about her. But I got a viscerally negative reaction to her writing in pretty short order.
She is exceedingly shallow. She is basically the published version of that insufferable mid-level manager who loved his economics 101 course a decade back and spends all of his time at parties explaining to the plebs (a lot of whom actually have better formal knowledge or spent more time actually thinking about the topic) how the invisible hand of the market would cure all possible ills if only it were unfettered.
As several people pointed out above, judging by the areas I am well versed in (European history and law mainly), nothing she says can be trusted. She is frequently either badly wrong or prone to come to false conclusions due to a lack of systematic knowledge. What is worse, she is one of those “intellectuals” who would rather spend all their brain power on making their pre-existing notions look believable rather than acquiring the knowledge to tell the actual truth. She just seems indifferent to knowledge as long as she has got enough material for a witty quip or takedown.
To add insult to injury, she has (to me) a very dismissive tone to her writing. She’s basically the conservative caricature of a liberal made flesh, just with libertarian positions.
What makes me so bilious, I think, are two things:
Firstly, that she paddles truthiness. While I really dislike Alex Jones and his ilk, they are basically low-brow entertainers. They sell sh*** for money.
By the education, positions and accolades she receives, McArdle should be one of the people who counteract the negative effects people like Jones have on the body public. Instead she chose to pollute it in a slightly more high-brow manner. In a way she’s traitor to intellectualism.
The second one is the reaction she receives. Like in your article, she is generally considered intelligent, nonpartisan (for no reason that I can discern – her bias is pretty obvious) and able to regularly get new gigs at reputable news sources. She’s “one of the boys”. If she were a beauty blogger or restaurant critic all of the above would be excusable. But the fact that she is where she is constantly highlights unpleasant truths about the the constant failure of US journalism over the last decades to play its necessary role.
And I think that last one is where a lot of the vitriol comes from: every time she gets a new column, our hopes that the broken pol/media system might get better soon are dashed on the rocks of reality again.
She is sometimes interesting, but she is nearly always wrong about healthcare issues.