NYT’s Douthat Imagines the WaPo That Could’ve Been

How was WaPo “lost” to Jeff Bezos?

The NYT‘s Ross Douthat wrote in his column this weekend that it was because the paper missed its opportunity to seize the internet by the throat. What’s fascinating is Douthat knows exactly when this happened. The moment was “in 2006 when John Harris and Jim VendeHei left … to found Politico.”

He argues that Politico created the political-journalism juggernaut WaPo should’ve and could’ve been, a daily must-read that dominates “the D.C. conversation … that matches the metabolism of the Internet.” There can be only one, and according to Douthat, it’s Politico.

It still gets better. Despite the ass kissing you might think this is at first glance, Douthat doesn’t think so highly of Politico.

“I say this as someone who doesn’t particularly like the Politico style or the role it plays in our gilded capital, and who misses The Post as it was when I arrived in Washington.”

Ah, nostalgia. The thing that has killed more newspapers than the Internet could ever hope to. Still, while Douthat gets this, (“nostalgia is for columnists, not publishers,” he says) he thinks what Bezos will bring to WaPo is probably more of the old-fashioned than the new and shiny. “…money and resources necessary to take back territory lost to a sharp-elbowed competitor.”

Interesting to note: Politico‘s biggest cheerleader, Mike Allen, ran the complimentary parts of Douthat’s column this weekend. But weirdly, he left out the part about the columnist really feels about the publication.