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May 14, 2003

MARK STEYN FIRED? I don't do guest posts here except in times of grave national, or global, emergency. This may be one of those times. Below is a post from Tim Blair, who for the usual reasons can't get it to post to his Blogger-powered site: [begin Blair post]

WHAT KIND of idiot newspaper editor would fire Mark Steyn? Apparently the kind who now edits the National Post. Below, a series of answers from Steyn to readers asking if he has, in fact, been sacked:

Obviously it would be highly inappropriate for me to comment on internal matters at the National Post, but as a general observation I would say that the new owners' penchant for big dramatic public gestures has not served them well. There is no reason to believe this latest one will prove any more successful than their disastrous public downsizing of the Post's arts and sports coverage after 9/11.

Obviously it would be highly inappropriate for me to comment on internal matters at the National Post, but as a general observation let me observe that at the time Conrad Black sold a half-share in the Post to the Aspers the paper was neck and neck with The Globe And Mail in circulation - there was, as often happens in media markets that have been somnolent for years, a lag between sales and revenue: advertisers are often slower to pick up on things than readers. Making the product weaker editorially is unlikely to solve this problem.

Obviously it would be highly inappropriate for me to comment on internal matters at the National Post, but as a general observation I would note that in the first week of the new puppet regime there does seem to be a marked Paul Martinization of the paper. If that's what David Asper means by a "strong conservative voice", it would seem to me that that's highly unlikely to do anything for the Post's commercial viability, given the already crowded market of Liberal cheerleaders.

Obviously it would be highly inappropriate for me to comment on internal matters at the National Post, but as a general observation I would say papers should avoid relaunches that give the appearance that the pre-existing paper had got it all wrong. That tends to drive away old readers without attracting new ones. See The Independent.

Obviously it would be highly inappropriate for me to comment on internal matters at the National Post, but as a general observation I would say that that new editor's "letter to his readers" the Friday after the coup was laughably lame, and to avoid all mention of his predecessors looks not just graceless and petty but extremely insecure.

Obviously it would be highly… aw, never mind.


[End Blair post].

Obviously, the folks at the National Post are blithering idiots to even consider letting go of Mark Steyn. I'm sure that Steyn will continue to prosper. I have my doubts about the National Post.

UPDATE: Charles Johnson says this is the dumbest journalistic personnel move since Jayson Blair was hired by the Times.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, now I have an email, forwarded by a third party but purportedly from the National Post, saying that Steyn hasn't been fired. Hey, Mark, what's going on?