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Aaron Hanscom

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February 8, 2013 - 12:10 am

My first assignment for Roger L. Simon, who is ending his tenure as CEO of PJ Media on Feb. 14, didn’t go so well.

It was the summer of 2007. Roger and I drove out to the Pepperdine University campus in Malibu, where the American Freedom Alliance’s “The Collapse of Europe?” conference was taking place. My job was simple: hold the camcorder steady as Roger talked doomsday with Mark Steyn, the keynote speaker at the event. Had PJTV been around back then, that might have been the first and only time I got a chance to work with Roger. I’d like to blame my shaky camerawork on the Santa Ana winds, but I think I was just starstruck in the presence of two of my favorite writers.

Sadly, that video didn’t survive a design change we made to the site several years ago, so I can’t show you what kind of socks Steyn was wearing (or what color fedora Roger donned for the interview). But I can share one of Steyn’s memorable lines that I recall often. As he gestured out toward the Pacific on what was a beautiful Southern California day, he said that he couldn’t think of “a better place to contemplate the end of the world.” (Update: Video found! See below.)

It’s amusing to think that we were talking about the end of the world — or at least Western civilization — back in 2007, when the idea of a first-term senator with the most liberal voting record in the Senate becoming the next president of the United States still seemed unlikely. After two Obama victories, the stimulus package, Obamacare, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and the Arab Spring, those now seem like the good old days when conservatives in the U.S. could gather together to discuss Europe’s headlong decline with a feeling of relief that things were at least much better over here. Now, hardly a week goes by without PJM running a piece warning of the dangers of the U.S. becoming more like Europe, and to paraphrase Mark Steyn, I can’t think of a better person to have contemplated the end of America as we know it with over the past five years than Roger L. Simon, my boss and friend.

I realize that’s a gloomy opening for a tribute to the man I owe so much to for first hiring me as an associate editor and then having enough trust in me over these five incredibly fast-moving years to allow me to rise to the level of managing editor of this site we are both so proud of. In fact, though events in the world haven’t always gone the way the PJ Media editorial team would like, working under Roger has never been gloomy. It’s been thrilling and, frankly, very often incredibly easy. How many other editors are greeted each morning by polished and insightful articles on the main stories of the day from the likes of Victor Davis Hanson, Michael Ledeen, J. Christian Adams, Michael Walsh, and Andrew McCarthy? Roger single-handedly assembled a team of columnists that is second to none, and he deserves all the credit for making PJM, as Roger Kimball put it, the most “vigorous center-right purveyor of news and opinion going.” I can confirm, having spent hours in the same office with the man as he writes and comes up with one brilliant idea after another, that the site is just a reflection of its founder. As for the kind of man, boss, and friend Roger is, Stephen Green, Bryan Preston, and Richard Fernandez have already summed it up.

Luckily Roger will still be writing at his blog and posting at the Tatler and Lifestyle sections of PJ Media, as well as co-hosting Poliwood at PJTV. With that goods news in mind, I leave you with five of my favorite PJ Media posts from Roger over the years. It was hard to narrow it down to just five, so share your favorite in the comment section.

TALKING THROUGH MY HAT: How Ahmadinejad Made Me a Believer

Syria, Vogue Magazine, and Liberalism as Fashion Statement

Obama’s New Nomenklatura

‘Mind Your Own Beeswax!’: How Social Conservatives Can Win By Losing

Switching Sides — A Speech

Update: After this post went live, we stumbled over a copy of the interview I shot with Roger and Mark Steyn. Dig that 2007-era video quality, or the lack thereof:

Aaron Hanscom is the managing editor for PJ Media.
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