The Chat Room

George W. Bush Boiled Down to Two Words

Jacob Weisberg answers Reddit questions about Slate, SOTU, and Dubya.

Righteous anger?

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Slate Chairman Jacob Weisberg responded to questions on Wednesday during an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

moonkitty555: What did you think was the most important piece from last night’s SOTU?

Jacob Weisberg: Probably the focus on the minimum wage. This is concrete, popular, and a rallying cry for the base. Best thing I’ve read so far on SOTU is Will Saletan’s piece about how it posited the idea of a work ethic, and fairness for people who work against the unfettered free market.

oliver_babish: What happened to the greatest Slate feature ever, Randy Cohen’s daily News Quiz?

Who wins in a knife fight: Dahlia Lithwick or Dave Weigel?

I once received a free umbrella from Slate back when you were on a subscription model, and I lost it. Do you have any replacements?

Jacob Weisberg: We now have the Ken Jennings Friday News Quiz, which I like even better.


I lost my last umbrella too. Maybe someday.

apadden: Would you agree that Obamacare is more detrimental to society than it is helping it?

Jacob Weisberg: No, I wouldn’t. I think runaway cost growth, gaps in coverage, and the fear of losing coverage were hugely detrimental. ACA will definitely help with the second two. On costs, the jury is out.

apadden: My family can afford health care. With the implementation of ACA, it forces me to either switch over to that plan (which covers less than what I am covered with now) or to pay a fee that increases every so often as a penalty for not switching. How does that seem fair?

Jacob Weisberg: It makes sense that plans have to meet minimum standards. If yours doesn’t, it seems perfectly fair to me that you be required to buy one that does, or pay a fee. Because if you wind up in the emergency room or with a serious illness, you’re not going to be the one paying the costs. They’ll be shifted to others.


plashricrem: Do you have a favorite Slate podcast? And/or (as you’ll probably say they’re all equally awesome) favorite type of sandwich?

Jacob Weisberg: I’m a regular for both the Political Gabfest and Culture Gabfest. I honestly don’t prefer one to the other. Avocado and cheese?


chocosquirrel: What should one do to be published inside Slate?

Jacob Weisberg: Have a brilliant insight, write it up entertainingly, and send it to us.


Eternally65: Do you believe that mainstream (excluding Fox News) media is further left than the rest of the country?

Jacob Weisberg: Reporters are more likely to have liberal views, but are professionals who strive for fairness and neutrality. There’s no other mainstream organization that is biased to the left the way Fox is to the right.


wigginin: Have you thought about doing longer podcasts? I have listened to the Gabfests for as long as they have been around, but I recently have been enamored with podcasts like Joe Rogan’s which go on for almost three hours, and I love how flexible the conversations can be.

Jacob Weisberg: I fear we’d try the patience of audience and hosts. The live shows do go on longer with questions, in a nice way.


many_username_wow: Hey, Jacob! What inspired you to start collecting Bushisms? Do you have a favorite? How did you find the transition from journalist to vague boss? Do you miss the day-to-day of reporting? Thanks for your time!

Jacob Weisberg: I started collecting Bushisms during 41’s tenure. When 43 ran, I picked right up. I do miss writing daily or weekly—but to me, making Slate succeed overall is where I can contribute the most.


chocosquirrel: If Slate were an omelet, what type would it be?

Jacob Weisberg: Now we’re cooking. It wouldn’t be an omelet at all. It would be a frittata. You’re doing it wrong.


metkere: How would you describe George W. Bush in three words?

Jacob Weisberg: I can do it in two: buried anger.


chocosquirrel: If Slate sponsored a sports team, what sport and what team? Slate Racing?

Jacob Weisberg: A lot of us run, and there are some amazing runners on staff. Anthony DeMaio, our head of ad sales, did a marathon in like 2:43 or something. Maybe a cycling team?


flipperbomb: How would you describe the concept of the “slate pitch?”

Jacob Weisberg: Whatever everybody thinks about X is wrong. Today, for instance: “Obama’s speech wasn’t boring. He made one very bold argument.”


kidsneakers: Do you think the Dear Prudie twins story was real?

Jacob Weisberg: You mean the incestuous twin brothers? Emily has reason to think that it was. In any case, I think “you probably shouldn’t tell the family” was excellent advice.


Dunkindoh: Do you have any inside information /spoilers for the next season of The Americans

Jacob Weisberg: Background to that question: My brother Joe is the showrunner.

I’m had only a glimpse so far, but it’s going to be awesome. Likable characters do detestable things. The kids get a lot more interesting, especially Paige. And the Stan-Nina thing gets more complicated.


englishgentabouttown: What advice to you have to students/recent graduates aspiring to journalism?

Jacob Weisberg: You should practice writing every day—a blog about something you’re passionate about is the ideal way to do it. Try to start building an audience that belongs to you. Tweet. I feel strongly that there’s never been a better time to be a journalist. Opportunity abounds.