Why Ezra Klein Went Into Journalism: “In politics nobody gave a s— what I thought.”

KK Ottesen interviews Vox co-founder Ezra Klein in the Washington Post Magazine:

Ezra Klein, 35, is a political journalist, blogger, commentator, and co-founder of and editor-at-large at Vox. He has also been a columnist for The Washington Post. His book “Why We’re Polarized” was published in January. He lives in Oakland, Calif.

You were an early political blogger back when that was just starting out. What led to your interest in politics and to political journalism in the first place?

I had a history teacher once who said that there are certain moments when you feel the fists of history tightening around you. And I think 9/11 was a moment for me when I realized that: Whether or not I was interested in politics, it was going to be interested in me. So that was when I really started paying attention in a deeper way and trying to understand and figure things out. And I was doing this blog because I thought a lot about politics, and I wanted to talk to people about it, and blogging was a way to do that. I thought I would be a political staffer of some kind, work on the Hill or on campaigns. It was only later that it became clear that my path in politics was going to be in writing and in journalism, not working for candidates. Because I actually hated doing that.

Why did you hate that? You worked on Howard Dean’s campaign, right?

I was an intern on Howard Dean’s campaign. Nothing against Howard Dean, who I respect greatly. And supporting candidates is, obviously, essential to make change in the system. But it just wasn’t my way. On campaigns, what you had to do was fall in line behind whatever some candidate said, thought or did. I was interested in trying to understand problems and solutions, and wanted to be able to honestly investigate, find conclusions, convey them to people and work toward them. I would be on the campaign, and they’d come out with a policy. And some other candidate would come out with a plan that I thought was better. And you can’t say, “Well, you know, John Kerry’s or John Edwards’s plan is really the way to go.” [Laughs.] But—and I cannot stress enough, I was an intern on this campaign. Nobody gave a s— what I thought. I was in the field office sending bumper stickers to people.

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