MEDIA
12/31/2015 12:07 pm ET

Washington Post Claims It Dropped A Progressive Columnist Because Of Poor Readership. Readers Aren't Happy.

Bernie Sanders says the columnist's "insights will be sorely missed."
SAUL LOEB via Getty Images

Harold Meyerson provided a progressive voice on The Washington Post's opinion page for nearly 13 years. But a few weeks ago, Meyerson learned from editorial page editor Fred Hiatt that his contract would not be renewed for the coming year. 

Meyerson sent his Dec. 30 column, his last, to friends in an email Wednesday night, along with an explanation for his departure. The columnist, who also serves as editor at large for The American Prospect, wrote that Hiatt had "not previously communicated any displeasure with the column," and had mostly only spoken to him when it came time to renew the annual contract. 

"We then had some discussions," Meyerson wrote. "His stated reasons for dropping the column were 1) poor social media metrics, and 2) excessive discussion of two topics: worker power (decline thereof) and alternative corporate structures (as in Germany). If there were other reasons, he didn't bring them up. I said that he might have raised his objections with me before deciding to drop the column; he acknowledged he should have."

In an email to The Huffington Post, Hiatt defended the decision and noted that The Post publishes "a wide range of views, including progressives Eugene Robinson, EJ Dionne, Ruth Marcus, Greg Sargent, Paul Waldman and Katrina vanden Heuvel and contributing columnists Rachel Maddow and Danielle Allen."

"We’ve been pleased to publish Harold’s columns for the past 13 years, but he failed to attract readers as these others have," Hiatt continued. "And while our decision should never be made based only on clicks, I think it would be arrogant to entirely ignore what our readers are telling us."

But some prominent readers quickly took issue with the Post's decision. 

"Hope this is not true," New York Times national political correspondent Jonathan Martin said on Twitter Thursday. Nicholas Confessore, Martin's colleague at the Times, tweeted that Meyerson's departure comes "arguably right when readers would most benefit from his perspective."

You'll be missed on the Post op-ed page, Harold,” tweeted Timothy Noah, labor policy editor for Politico. “Thanks for covering these issues when nobody else cared to.”

Occidental College professor Peter Dreier wrote Thursday on HuffPost that Meyerson's "ongoing coverage and incisive analysis of the nation's labor movement and other progressive causes" stood out among U.S. columnists. 

"At a time when America is experiencing an upsurge of progressive organizing and activism -- from Occupy Wall Street, to Black Lives Matter, to the growing movement among low-wage workers demanding higher minimum wages, to Bernie Sanders' campaign for president -- we need a regular columnist who can explain what's going on, why it's happening, and what it means," Dreier wrote. 

And Sanders himself tweeted that Meyerson's "insights will be sorely missed by Post readers."

Gabriel Arana contributed reporting. 

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