National Journal chief correspondent Michael Hirsh is leaving the publication to become national editor for Politico Magazine, according to emails obtained by The Huffington Post.
Hirsh’s departure isn’t surprising, given that Atlantic Media chief David Bradley, the owner of National Journal, recently sided with the subject of an article written by the veteran journalist.
In September, Hirsh wrote a much-discussed cover story making the case that former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers shouldn’t be named chairman of the Federal Reserve. The Huffington Post reported last month that Summers had complained at the time to Bradley, who agreed the piece did not treat Summers fairly. Recently, National Journal and Atlantic staffers have been urged to take added precautions when writing on Summers.
While Summers and Bradley apparently found the 4,700-word cover story unfair, there were no corrections made to it. Adam Kushner, the article’s editor, who has since joined The Washington Post, described Hirsh’s piece as “intellectually honest and responsible.”
Hirsh acknowledged the dispute over the Summers piece, but maintained in an email that it wasn’t the impetus for leaving the magazine.
“I won’t deny that I had some issues with Atlantic Media and National Journal, including David Bradley’s public criticism of my Larry Summers cover story (though I was gratified that David later apologized to me for making that statement),” Hirsh wrote, “but the overwhelming reason I am making this move is the exciting prospect of working with [Politico magazine editor] Susan Glasser, [deputy editor] Blake Hounshell and the other great journalists at Politico.”
Hirsh, who joined National Journal from Newsweek in 2010, informed colleagues Monday afternoon that he was leaving, and in an email chain, seemed to acknowledge some frustrations with management. At 3:30 p.m., Hirsh told wrote that “it’s been great working with you all, and the best of luck to one and all going forward.”
Ron Brownstein, editorial director of the National Journal Group, responded a few hours later and praised the outgoing journalist:
“When we were originally discussing whether to offer our chief correspondent position to Michael one of his references said to me something incredibly memorable: he said when the game is on the line, Michael always wants the ball. That turned out to be profoundly and powerfully true- whenever the need was greatest and the deadlines tightest he always stood up and raised his hand- and delivered smart unsparing analysis. Thanks for everything Michael and good luck.”
Hirsh responded by thanking Brownstein before taking a dig at the current company culture.
“I’ll always appreciate your incisive edits of my early stories, which made me a much better writer, and above all the vibrant editorial culture you brought to NJ, when ideas were widely and sharply debated and there was an air of excitement and endless possibility in the newsroom, as opposed to the obsessive bean-counting of traffic numbers.”