A farewell to The Week that was

·3 min read
An exit.
An exit. Illustrated | iStock

The value and future of the liberal public square has come under intense debate. Ours is a time in which the ACLU wrings its hands over the risks of free speech; self-described small-government conservatives seek to sic the state on Big Tech; and everyone is increasingly unsure if those people should really be allowed to say that. Our national discourse is all mucked up with fear, fury, malicious irony, piously feigned ignorance, and a steady, all-directional flow of bad faith.

I have long been honored to write at TheWeek.com because it is an exception to that rule. We have tried — not perfectly, but sincerely and consistently — to wade out of that muck. We have deliberately cultivated real ideological difference and collegiality, increasingly rare qualities in American media aiming at general, national consumption.

Where other sites have an open political alignment or de facto third rails, The Week has intentionally sought to publish voices with real disagreement about grave matters. We have prized sharp and conscientious argument. We have clung to the ideal of the liberal public square while it gathered ever more enemies. We have maintained an internal culture that errs on the side of respect and treating serious matters seriously.

"The Week published paleocons like Michael Brendan Dougherty and leftists like Ryan Cooper, libertarians like Shikha Dalmia and centrists like Damon Linker, all distinctive writers and thinkers who tended to avoid being siloed within the political dispensations with which they identified and who prided themselves on refusing to 'think with the church' as it were," as longtime columnist Noah Millman recently wrote. "You can find people like them at other opinion pages, but they'd be the exception to a rule where most opinion columns cluster around the predilections of the publication's core readership. It was genuinely special to be part of an enterprise that strove for something different."

Indeed it was. I came to The Week in 2014 as a freelance news writer. Particularly with a Democratic administration, the editors wanted a balance of viewpoints on the news team. They were searching for someone who would hit left as well as right, and, as a libertarian, I was happy to hit at anyone in government. I joined giddy at my good luck in being selected to write for a site that published so many people I respected.

From there I went on to become weekend editor, contributing editor, deputy editor, and acting editor-in-chief. I've done work I've enjoyed in each of those roles, but it's the opinion writing of which I'm proudest, aided by generous editors who let me pursue my interests — galas, medieval analogies, not going to space, destroying the suburbs — however odd they might be.

Here at The Week, I researched twin pregnancies and postpartum injuries, tracked the making of a misinformation meme, reported a discrepancy in CDC data, chronicled the evolution of the American right, jumped on the QAnon beat early, explored the reality of martial law, parsed libertinism and libertarianism, refused to endorse a presidential candidate, tallied "day one" promises, pondered yard signs in states blue and purple, meditated on violence, interrogated my own history of quoting the Founding Fathers, committed to the necessity of good character, and began writing on topics around media, mind, and epistemology that would later form the basis of my second book (out this fall — please pre-order!).

But now that era has come to an end. TheWeek.com is moving in a new direction in how it handles in-depth analysis and opinion — look for a note with more details on the occasion of our official launch of that approach June 1 — and it's time for me to move on.

Readers, thanks for hearing me out this once more, and do keep in touch. Cheers to The Week that was.

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