Washington Post selects Reagan staffer as publisher, but don’t expect change in slant

Jeff Bezos has named Fred Ryan to be the Washington Post’s new publisher. Ryan is a former Reagan administration official. He served as Director of Presidential Appointments and Scheduling and as head the White House Office of Private Sector Initiatives. Near the end of Reagan’s second term, Ryan became Assistant to the President, the highest level of staff position in the White House, as I understand it.

After Reagan left office, Ryan served as Chief of Staff to the former president. He was responsible for the establishment and operation of Reagan’s office in Century City, and he helped create the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Should liberals worry that Ryan’s selection as publisher of the Post signals less leftism in the paper’s news coverage and less liberalism in it editorial page? I don’t think so.

Ryan co-founded Politico, which is about as reliably left-leaning as the Post. Moreover, those who have worked with various media companies owned by Ryan’s corporation say he’s a businessman above all else, and not one to attempt to influence the direction of coverage or editorial policy.

The Post depends on an overwhelmingly leftist readership, namely the inhabitants of Washington DC and its suburbs. It would be bad for business to disappoint that crowd, many of whose members already find their patience stretched by the Post’s generally responsibly liberal editorial page.

It’s sweet to contemplate a Washington Post without, say, Dana Milbank and E.J. Dionne. It’s even sweeter to contemplate a Post that doesn’t collaborate with traitors like Edward Snowden and doesn’t have the likes of Bart Gellman deciding which state secrets can be revealed without harming America.

But I don’t expect Fred Ryan to bring about either scenario. If anything, I wonder whether he will bend over backwards to avoid criticism from the left. That, in any case, will be the left’s objective.

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