LA Weekly columnist Nikki Finke takes a look back at Michael Kinsley's months in the top job at the L.A. Times editorial and opinion pages, and it's safe to say she isn't a fan. By the way, there was some chatter at last night's Zócalo event (which drew 1,300 people to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to hear ex-guvs Brown, Deukmejian, Wilson and Davis) that Kinsley's Parkinson's disease and the toll of traveling between Seattle and Los Angeles may have played a role in his stepping down.
Here's Finke's take (plus some other links to reaction at the bottom):
Years ago, there was a notorious movie based on a best-selling book called The Harrad Experiment, whose plot centers on a college that conducts an avant-garde policy of encouraging students to experience sexual freedom. Tension and confrontation ensue, yet this intentionally dramatic film just appears ludicrous. That’s how it is with The Kinsley Experiment, which officially ended this week at the Los Angeles Times not with a bang but with him whimpering to a rival newspaper. It also leaves behind a readership confused by Michael Kinsley’s yearlong fling with editorial freedom during which he flippantly recast the venerable editorial and opinion sections into a comedy of errors — describing readers as “assholes,” hyping wikitorials, inciting blog porn on the Web site, and snidely dubbing his domain “The Opinion Manufacturing Division.”
Good riddance, Mikey. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out to your new $6.2 mil Seattle mansion, purchased right before you took the LAT job....
At first it looked like nothing would be decided right away since [Publisher Jeff] Johnson was vacationing this week, and Kinsley was working from his principal residence in Seattle before taking the entire month of August out of the office. Yet the buzz among his staffers Monday was that Kinsley wouldn’t be returning from vacation, and there was also word that he was giving up his downtown L.A. pied-á-terre in Bunker Hill Towers. That’s the same place he’d recently boasted afforded him only a 10-minute commute from the paper’s headquarters if he walked, but inevitably drove. That small revelation only served to underscore how little actual contact he’s had with his unadopted city.
In typical Kinsley fashion, self-serving and self-righteous, he beat his own paper to the punch and on Monday gave the news of his stepping down to the LAT’s arch-rival, The New York Times.
Finke's just getting started. After the jump: Joel Stein, Harry Potter and Kinsley's first (spiked) editorial...
The Kinsley Experiment got off on the wrong foot from the get-go. He spiked his first attempted LAT editorial — an ironic reflection on the decapitation murder of screenwriter Robert Lees — after his fellow editorial writers urged him to rethink the piece, and even Carroll advised him against running it. The incident showed just how ignorant of L.A. sensibilities Kinsley was since he thought everything that happened with a Hollywood angle, even a brutal slaying, was fodder for making fun.
That faulty attitude was only compounded when Kinsley hired the imbecilic Time magazine columnist Joel Stein, king of the conflict of interest, to write jejune rants about showbiz. Together, Kinsley and Stein were like the Beavis and Butt-Head of the LAT editorial and opinion pages, a pair of cutups thinking up new ways to annoy so that people would notice them. That’s why Stein railed against Harry Potter, and why Kinsley took the contrarian view that Judy Miller shouldn’t protect her sources. That they’re coming off as sophomoric putzes doesn’t matter — they’ll sacrifice principle for a PR prank. (Like that electric-shock sound that played when the new Current section clicked open on the Web site. It was taken down after online readers complained en masse.)
* Kinsley replies here