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Klein in 2011
May 9, 1984|
Irvine, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of California, Los Angeles (B.A., Political Science)|
|Occupation||Journalist, author, political commentator|
|Employer||The Washington Post, MSNBC, Bloomberg, Vox Media|
|Title||Editor at Large, Vox|
|Spouse(s)||Annie Lowrey (m. 2011)|
Ezra Klein (born May 9, 1984) is an American journalist, blogger, and political commentator who currently works as editor-at-large of Vox. He was previously a blogger and columnist for The Washington Post and an associate editor of The American Prospect. He has served as a contributor to Bloomberg News and MSNBC.
At The Washington Post, he managed a branded blog, "Wonkblog," which featured his writing and the writing of other policy reporters. Issues discussed in the blog included health care and budget policy. He wrote a primer on policy called "Wonkbook", which was delivered by e-mail and on his blog each morning.
Klein was born and raised in Irvine, California. Klein is a middle child, raised in a Jewish family. His father, Abel Klein, is a mathematics professor at University of California, Irvine, originally from Brazil; his mother is an artist. Klein went to school at University High School. He attended the University of California, Santa Cruz, but later transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles, from which he graduated in 2005 with a B.A. in political science. While at UCSC, he applied to write for the City on a Hill Press but was rejected.
Klein worked on Howard Dean's primary campaign in Vermont in 2003, and interned for the Washington Monthly in Washington, D.C. in 2004. "The media is as effective and important an agent for change as the legislative bodies, and I think it's where I'm happiest and most effective," Klein said. In 2003, he and Markos Moulitsas were two of the earliest bloggers to report from a political convention, that of the California State Democratic Party. In 2006, Klein was one of several writers pseudonymously flamed by The New Republic writer Lee Siegel (posting as a sock puppet called sprezzatura).
Klein's prolific blogging caught the attention of Steve Pearlstein, the Washington Post's veteran business columnist. "I was blown away by how good he was—how much the kid wrote—on so many subjects," Pearlstein said. Pearlstein sent samples of Klein's work to managing editor Raju Narisetti. A few weeks after he heard from Pearlstein, Post foreign correspondent John Pomfret asked Klein to have lunch with him and financial editor Sandy Sugawara. Narisetti quickly hired Klein[when?] to be the Post’s first pure blogger on politics and economics. On May 18, 2009, he began writing at the newspaper.
Klein announced he would be leaving the Washington Post in January 2014, with the intent to start a new media venture with several other veteran journalists. The new media venture was soon identified as Vox Media, which hired Klein and several associates to create a new politics site. Klein had previously "proposed the creation of an independent, explanatory journalism website—with more than three dozen staffers" and an annual budget of more than US$10 million to remain at the Washington Post. During negotiations, Post publisher Katharine Weymouth and new owner Jeff Bezos did not make a counteroffer.
Klein was editor in chief at Vox, now editor-at-large, and formerly wrote for and edited Wonkblog at the Washington Post. He frequently provides political commentary on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, Hardball with Chris Matthews, and The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell. He is a former contributor to Countdown with Keith Olbermann. On March 14, 2013, The Week magazine reported that Klein was among those being considered to host MSNBC's yet-unnamed 8 p.m. weekday prime-time show that would replace The Ed Show. Ultimately, the time slot was filled with All In with Chris Hayes.
In December 2009, Klein wrote an article in the Washington Post, stating that Senator Joe Lieberman was "willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score", because Lieberman "was motivated to oppose health care legislation in part out of resentment at liberals for being defeated in the 2006 Connecticut Democratic Primary". Klein based his estimate on an Urban Institute report that estimated that 22,000 people died in 2006 because they lacked health-care insurance. This article was criticized by Jonah Goldberg of the National Review, who called it a "silly claim". Charles Lane, also of the Washington Post, described Klein's article as an "outrageous smear". But EJ Dionne, also of the Washington Post, agreed with Klein's claim, saying that "Klein is right that there is not a shred of principle in Lieberman's opposition". Klein later said he regretted the phrasing and his position is that despite universal coverage, the social determinants of health are still powerful predictors that, on average, ensure the lower socioeconomic classes die sooner than those with more income and education.
In February 2007 Klein created a Google Groups forum called "JournoList" for discussing politics and the news media. The forum's membership was controlled by Klein and limited to "several hundred left-leaning bloggers, political reporters, magazine writers, policy wonks and academics". Posts within JournoList were intended only to be made and read by its members. Klein defended the forum saying that it "[ensures] that folks feel safe giving off-the-cuff analysis and instant reactions". JournoList member, and Time magazine columnist, Joe Klein (no relation to Ezra Klein) added that the off-the-record nature of the forum was necessary because “candor is essential and can only be guaranteed by keeping these conversations private”.
The existence of JournoList was first publicly revealed in a July 27, 2007, blog post by blogger Mickey Kaus. However, the forum did not attract serious attention until March 17, 2009, when an article published on Politico detailed the nature of the forum and the extent of its membership. The Politico article set off debate within the blogosphere over the ethics of participating in JournoList and raised questions about its purpose. The first public excerpt of a discussion within JournoList was posted by Mickey Kaus on his blog on March 26, 2009.
On June 25, 2010, Ezra Klein announced in his Washington Post blog that he would be terminating the JournoList group. This decision was instigated by fellow blogger Dave Weigel's resignation from the Post following the public exposure of several of his JournoList emails about conservative media figures.
In 2010, he was named Blogger of the Year by The Week magazine and The Sidney Hillman Foundation. In 2011, he was named one of the 50 most powerful people in Washington, D.C., by GQ. His blog was also named one of the 25 best financial blogs by Time magazine in 2011. In 2013, Klein won the Online News Association Award for Best Online Commentary. He also won the American Political Science Association's Carey McWilliams Award, for "a major journalistic contribution to our understanding of politics." He appeared as one of 80 men featured in Esquire's 80th Anniversary issue and in a feature in The New York Times Style magazine.