Slate Editor David Plotz on Motivation, Politics, Ideology, and a 50-Foot-Tall Michelle Obama

Slate editor David Plotz spoke with Betsy Rothstein for a So What Do You Do Q&A, during which he touched upon how he keeps his writers motivated, where his publication falls ideologically and politically, and why he spent months feeling as if he was being haunted by a 50-foot-high Michelle Obama.

The interview was part of’s Profit from Your Passion series, with activists representing this week’s focus. Here, Plotz discusses politics and ideology at Slate:

Slate doesn’t have a party line, an ideological platform, or positions on anything. We never feel any obligation to cover an issue a particular way, or to stake out a position, or to serve some higher public good. Our view is the public good is served when we are honest and journalistically ambitious. If that means we are savaging something the right loves, fantastic. There is no intentional political activism at Slate. One thing we’ve done during the past few elections is everyone on staff says how they’ve voted. We publish it. It’s cool. It speaks well for our transparency so people can look and say that our work stands and falls based on its truth and integrity and consistency.

There is no effort to do political activism. We want to be engaged, but if we decide we write about health care, it is not to get it passed, but because Americans need to know about it. As long as the stories are smart and new and fresh, it doesn’t matter where they fall.