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Conservatives Already Hate Ezra Klein's New Website

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AP Photo / Charles Dharapak

In a story for Vox.com, the fledgling explanatory journalism website he launched earlier this week, Klein observed that embattled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was resigning because "Obamacare has won."

Klein and Vox tweeted a link to the piece with the story's assertive headline, setting off a torrent of mockery from media types on the right.

The criticism reflected a refusal on the right to accept that Obamacare is on the rebound. It also confirmed a widespread suspicion of Vox among conservatives, which predated Klein's declaration of victory for the Affordable Care Act.

Vox's executive editor Matt Yglesias came in for similar mockery late last month when he put out a video explaining that the national debt isn't actually worth "freaking out" about.

Klein has long been regarded as a man of the left, but the criticism from conservatives was never quite so vociferous when he was at the helm of the Washington Post's Wonkblog.

(And to be fair, Klein and Vox have been scrutinized by a variety of critics, liberals included.)

In an email to TPM on Friday, Byron York, the chief political correspondent for the conservative Washington Examiner and a contributor to Fox News, captured the biggest source of right-wing resentment toward Vox.

Klein isn't transparent about his leanings, York and others contend, and Vox is a partisan website masquerading as an objective outlet.

"His schtick, which he perfected at the Post, is to present political arguments as data-driven wonkery, and himself as a pragmatist who follows the data wherever it leads," said York, who has been critical of Klein's work before, in the email. "He built a whole brand on that at the Post, where he appeared in non-opinion areas of the website and paper. Now he's expanding it with Vox."

"That has always been my objection to that type of work: It is often political advocacy presenting itself as disinterested, wonkish, pragmatic analysis. It's not," he added.

Klein did not respond to TPM's request for comment, but he said in an interview published Friday that he's not overly concerned with the opinions of fellow journalists – conservative or otherwise.

"Ultimately we need a lot more folks reading us than media people," Klein told New York Magazine. "I think a problem is journalism is being overly concerned with writing for other journalists. Twitter, in particular. Journalists have so engaged on Twitter and it’s so empowering and gratifying to write an article your peers really enjoy that you can forget that your peers are very different from your readers. It can be a little bit problematic."