Raines-ing in Andrew Sullivan
Is the Andrew Sullivan heave-ho the marker of more changes to come at the New York Times?
Not all correspondents chose to heed the call. Sam Howe Verhovek of the Seattle bureau and Kevin Sack of the Atlanta bureau moved to the Los Angeles Times, where Managing Editor Dean Baquet, a former top New York Times editor, is setting up a shadow version of the New York Times on the West Coast. Baquet has also poached editors Michaline Busico and John Montario from the mother-ship. These defections reverse a natural law that says all journalistic talent flows toward the New York Times, not away from it.
In typical overkill, a recent New York Post headline called the personnel changes "Terror Raines at the Times." But terror is relative. The heaven that was Joe Lelyveld's newsroom is as rare as the hell that was Abe Rosenthal's. Readers should worry less about Howell Raines reshuffling the deck than they do about what sort of newspaper he deals. And, after all, the Raines era won't last forever. Some Times departees and staffers passed over in the opening months of the Raines regime consider themselves "Prague Exiles" and joke about returning to the paper after the "tanks" leave—i.e., Raines takes his mandatory retirement at 65 in 2008.
(Disclosure: I talked with Adam Moss about a job in 1997 [or was it 1998?], but nothing came of it. I also wrote a piece for Sullivan when he edited the New Republic.)