Keller is “leaving the paper for The Marshall Project, a non-profit news group focused on the criminal justice system,” writes Warner Todd Huston at Big Journalism:
“It’s a chance to build something from scratch, which I’ve never done before,” Mr. Keller said in an announcement published by the paper, “and to use all the tools that digital technology offers journalists in terms of ways to investigate and to present on a subject that really matters personally.”
Keller is a Pulitzer Prize winner, a former foreign correspondent, a Times editor and columnist, and has been with the paper for 30 years.
Bill Keller isn’t the first one to flee The New York Times of late. Over the last few years, several high profile writers have left the paper, including Nate Silver, David Pogue, assistant managing editor Jim Roberts, sports editor Joe Sexton, managing editor John Geddes, and culture editor Jon Landman, among others.
This may not be too surprising if reports of the “semi-open revolt” against editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal is any indication. This report comes on top of the report last August that Times executive editor Jill Abramson lost the respect and affection of the newsroom.
Keller leaves the New York Times after several notorious gaffes. Last month, Keller and his wife, who blogs at the (equally far left) UK Guardian tagged-team cancer victims in the age of Obamacare, as John Nolte noted at Big Journalism. Emma Keller is uncomfortable with Lisa cancer patient Bonchek Adams tweeting about her Stage IV breast cancer and wrote:
“…I felt embarrassed at my voyeurism. Should there be boundaries in this kind of experience? Is there such a thing as TMI? Are her tweets a grim equivalent of deathbed selfies, one step further than funeral selfies? Why am I so obsessed?”
Bill Keller took to the New York Times to explore his primary fear, which as Nolte writes, “seems to be that Adams will serve as an example to others to never give up — to keep spending someone’s inheritance or The State’s money as opposed to dying with dignity like a good little socialist.”
In the summer of 2011, Keller, nearing the end of his tenure as executive editor of the Times, wrote an equally vicious attack against the religious beliefs of those on the GOP presidential campaign trail, making a telling error in labeling their beliefs in the piece as initially published:
This year’s Republican primary season offers us an important opportunity to confront our scruples about the privacy of faith in public life — and to get over them. We have an unusually large number of candidates, including putative front-runners, who belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons, a faith that many conservative Christians have been taught is a “cult” and that many others think is just weird. (Huntsman says he is not “overly religious.”) Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum are all affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity, which has raised concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction.
Rick Santorum is a Catholic. Michelle Bachmann is a Lutheran. These are “fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity?” (The following year, fellow Timesman Charles Blow would continue the Other-ising of Republicans with his infamous “stick that in your magic underwear” tweet directed at finalist Mitt Romney.)
But really, none of this is Keller’s fault. It’s the system, you see. The horrible, diversified media world in which the modern New York Times is so unfairly forced to compete in for its survival, as expressed in this quote from March of 2011, full of beneficent tolerance for competing worldviews:
“I think if you’re a regular viewer of Fox News, you’re among the most cynical people on planet Earth,” Keller snarled. “I cannot think of a more cynical slogan than ‘Fair and Balanced.’”
As Don Irvine of Accuracy in Media quipped in response, “More cynical than the Times’ slogan of ‘All the News That’s Fit to Print’ which I interpret as ‘All the Liberal News That We can Print.’”
So to review: attacking cancer patients and Christians=non-cynical. Watching Fox News=cynical. Got it.
Something to keep in mind at both Keller’s new venture, and his former employer. Speaking of which, as the Gray Lady continues to bleed talent to various Internet ventures, this decade-old futuristic video forecasting the state of the media in 2014 is looking increasingly prescient: