Michael Kinsley doesn't start until June 14 but he is introducing himself around the L.A. Times building today. He also expounds a bit on his new job as editorial page and opinion editor in a web-only interview with Newsweek's Brian Braiker (via Romenesko).
Because I was on Crossfire for six years, Bill O’Reilly says I’m a rabid left-winger. Well, I may be rabid in terms of temperament—I don’t think so—but in terms of my actual views, they are mainstream moderate liberal, or they average out that way. The one thing I would say is that an editorial is a different literary form than a column and certainly than a TV argument show. It should be more statesmanlike and it should be more calm. So in terms of style and in terms of not going out on a limb with some wacky idea—which you can always do as a columnist—you have to be a little more careful writing editorials.
Are you boning up on your L.A. politics?
It is like “Chinatown.” Fascinating is a good way to put it. I’m not going to have to force myself to get interested in California. I went to Amazon and I’ve ordered all of [California historian] Kevin Starr’s books and textbooks and the Mike Davis “City of Quartz.” I’m going to do some homework.
Will spending half your time in Seattle make it difficult to win over readers or to grasp the issues?
I think you can grasp the issues of a place, even California, by being there half the time if you make an effort. And the Los Angeles Times aims to be in some ways the voice of the West, and the West is more than California. Having someone in Seattle is not a completely worthless thing. But mainly it’s a very generous indulgence to me by the management of the Los Angeles Times. I think it’s very cool and very impressive that they’ve agreed to it. They’re on a roll. It’s fun joining a hot book. I’ve never done that before.
Have you been watching Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger?
Well, that’s a great story too. They have an interesting piece about [his wife] Maria [Shriver]. It’s the piece that they run about the first lady, usually about two or three years into a presidential term. That piece ran [Thursday] in the LA Times. I’ve been waiting for that piece about Laura Bush.
In that front-page piece about Shriver's growing influence, by Peter Nicholas of the Sacramento bureau, Maria describes herself as fierce in her protection of and belief in her husband. Wonder what she'll say if the rumors are true that an LAT team has been chasing fresh leads about Arnold's past with women ever since the election -- and if the accounts check out sufficiently to put in the paper. Ace investigative reporter Gary Cohn, the lead byline on last year's controversial groping stories, has not been in print since Dec. 5, so he's busy on something.
Also seen in the Times building this week: Maria Russo, features editor at the New York Observer, formerly of the New York Times Book Review and Salon.com, where she was books editor and a writer. She is reportedly talking about a job on the features side of the paper. Meanwhile, buzz in the newsroom is trying to discern which high-level consolation jobs Miriam Pawel rejected when she got the word, supposedly just on Monday night, that she was out as assistant managing editor for state and local coverage. Gossips say that two jobs mentioned were masthead level, which has everybody guessing at who else might be moved. Pawel also reportedly may have rejected an overseas assignment, possibly in China.