SAN FRANCISCO — Saying they don’t usually take in educated white liberal types, the editors at Salon are going to make an exception by giving Austin-based blogger Jason Kirkpatrick one chance, and one chance only.
“Kid, around here we don’t hire any progressive punk just because he’s got some fancy college degree, a grudge against jocks, and a few retweets by Politico,” said editor-at-large Joan Walsh. “And even all the crushing white guilt you can muster won’t get you a cup of coffee in this joint.”
“All of us here got schooled in the streets, and we fought our way up, sometimes using our fists,” she said. “But we got this gut feeling about you, and I hope we ain’t wrong.”
In nearly its 20 years of existence, Salon had yet to hire a single white liberal, but there’s something fiery and untamed about the 27-year-old Kirkpatrick who has been blogging about politics and culture since 2011, no denying that, staff members agree.
Salon founder and former prep school gang member David Talbot says at first he was skeptical of editor-in-chief David Daley’s decision to hire someone like Kirkpatrick, whose hipster style, affected speech, and use of academic jargon could quickly make him a target of ridicule in the gritty world of progressive journalism. But Talbot came to see how this kid just might have what it takes to survive.
“What can I say, the kid wrote a killer blog post about Sarah Palin, somehow molding her into a caricature of a homophobic gun-toting teabagger, which was a brilliant move,” Talbot said. “It was a critical, hard-hitting piece that went places I ain’t never seen a white liberal go before. It’s gonna be tough for the kid in this business, but he’s got that look in his eyes, and I think he’s gonna make it.”
Kirkpatrick’s first assignment — “if it doesn’t kill him first,” one Salon staff writer remarked — will be to compose 600 words of slobbering praise about the actress Lena Dunham.