A Poem For Thursday

Jan 29 2015 @ 8:00pm


Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes:

If we replace the word “today” in the title of the poem below with “yesterday,” perhaps we have an apt valedictory poem to Andrew following his note of Wednesday about his sad (but for him also liberating) retreat from blogging for the time being. The poet is a certified journeyman farrier who lives near Livingston, Montana.

May you stay fleet of foot on your amazing journey, Andrew.

“Something That Happened Today” by Michael Earl Craig:

I picked up a little beagle today;
I held her between my hands.
Her little legs kicked like sausages.
She was trotting away from me in midair.

I picked up a little beagle today.
She was wet.
And a little cross-eyed.
Had she been swimming in the irrigation ditch?

I picked up a little beagle today.
What was she doing in the barn?
I know I know . . . this story is unfolding
way too fast.

(From Talkativeness © 2014 by Michael Earl Craig. Used by permission of Wave Books.)

How It Happened

Jan 29 2015 @ 7:15pm

Over a year ago, I did an interview with John Huey who was engaged in a long project at the Nieman Foundation of documenting how the Internet changed journalism. He sat me down and asked me to spell out the various stages of the Dish experiment and what I thought I was doing at the time. I forgot about it, but the Nieman Lab did a post on my quitting, and embedded two videos of the conversation and a transcript.

It’s kind of like a mega Ask Andrew Anything about the entire history of the Dish, from the very beginning. The second part of the interview is after the jump:

Read On

Face Of The Day

Jan 29 2015 @ 5:00pm

A Blogger Breaks Free: Blog Reax

Jan 29 2015 @ 3:15pm


Joe Jervis completely understands my decision to stop blogging:

Man, do I get this. Anybody who does live news blogging knows all too well the havoc this kind of work can wreak upon your personal life. Sure, there’s great freedom to be able to work wherever you are and any time. But you also have to work wherever you are and at any time. I’ve blogged from trains, planes, buses, ferries, taxis, airports, “vacation” hotel rooms, and from the backseats of cars. I’ve angered and hurt close friends by leaving parties to update a breaking story or by turning down invitations because something is about to happen. (These days those invitations often close with a tart “if you can leave your computer.”) I do love what I do, but yeah, I get you Andrew Sullivan. I’ve strongly disagreed with you on many occasions, but this, I get.

Rod Dreher can relate:

Blogging professionally is one of those jobs like being a movie critic. Everybody thinks it’s easy, until they try to do it. It’s not so much that you have to stay “on” all the time as it’s that you can’t turn it off. When Andrew says he’s burned out, I believe him. In the past four years, I’ve written two books, and am in the process of finishing co-writing a third, all the while continuing doing this blog, and other writing projects.

And I’m not complaining! I really love my job. But for reasons outside of my control, the work got incredibly intense for the last three months of the year, and I lost my health again (though I seem to be bouncing back, Deo gratias). It’s stress. I regret to say that I don’t know how to unplug digitally. I can’t stand still in a line without checking e-mail, approving blog comments, living digitally. That’s messed up.

What’s even more messed up is that I love this stuff. I really do. This is the best job I’ve ever had, and the best I can imagine having. And every time I start feeling worn out, I’ll be driving and seeing some guy busting their butts on a road crew in the Louisiana sun, and I’ll realize how easy I have it.

Ross tweets:

Peter Suderman calls me “a formative influence” on his own writing:

Sullivan modeled for me what blogging could be—curious and informative and funny and personal and detailed and reader-friendly and important and enjoyably trivial, often all at the same time—while simultaneously introducing me to a vast array of ideas and voices that I might never have otherwise encountered. …

I’ll admit I didn’t read him nearly as much over the past couple years, but I still checked in occasionally, and I was always happy to see that he was still going. I’ll miss knowing that he’s writing and arguing and linking. He was enough of a fixture that it’s almost hard to imagine the blogosphere, as it used to be called, without him around. I hope he returns every now and then to check in on the online world he helped create, and I wonder if he’ll really be able to stay away.

Steve Waldman lists seven ways in which the Dish helped create what blogging is. Two of them:

How to use a link. No, he didn’t invent the “a href,” but he was one of the first to understand that “merely” pointing to something interesting written by someone else was a service to readers, not an admission of inadequacy. And he was among the first to follow (or create) proper “netiquette” of giving attribution. It was on Sullivan’s blog that I first saw the annotation “h/t.”

The readers as experts. In the early days of the internet, there was deep suspicion and confusion about how to incorporate user input. Most media outlets decided to bring in readers through raucous commenting areas. Sullivan was one of the first to feature deep, detailed stories from his readers—stories that provided expertise either on a technical topic or a personal experience. He has viewed his readers as teachers, reporters, and collaborators. I learned as much from his “the view from your Obamacare” as most newspaper survey pieces. The “it’s so personal” thread provided textured accounts by women who’d had abortions.

Meanwhile, Alex Pareene calls bullshit on my blog exit. He points out that the “announcement comes nearly exactly ten years after the last time he announced that he was stepping away from blogging”:

Read On


A reader writes:

I’m know you’re getting a thousand-and-a-half of these emails today, but some bizarre, sentimental impulse compels me to write my own goodbye. It’s hard to see you go, and it certainly came as a shock: standing at the urinal yesterday between classes, bored out of my head and reading the Daily Dish for a precious few seconds, I read the news, stumbled in surprise, and (truly) pissed myself. If only soapy water and paper towels could mend my broken heart!

Really, though, I’ve felt a bit bereft since. Your blog has come to seem like a friend. It’s weird to think about it in those terms, and probably a bit cultish, but it feels true.

Another reader:

I’ve read your blog for 12 years. I’m not sure if I’ve ever before felt such closeness with a complete and total stranger, which perhaps explains why your decision to quit is something then that almost feels like an important change happening in my personal life.

But honestly, I can’t believe you’ve done it this long. I’m exhausted just trying to keep up.

And don’t let anyone tell you that you owe anything to “us.” You don’t. You’ve already given so much to strangers, in this most public airing of all the constitutes the life of your mind, with all of its beauty, sadness, love, hope, loss, brilliance, and yes, even maddening myopia. That is something truly, inexpressibly human, and therefore worthy of all my respect and thanks.

Another wonders:

Was yesterday’s VFYW a South Park reference?


I am really going to miss the Dish.


I hate to add my snowflake to the avalanche that you’re surely receiving from readers, but I just can’t help myself. Over the past five-ish years, the Dish has become my go-to source for just about everything. Not just “news,” but cultural relevance. It’s been invaluable as such. It’s helped me to be a more knowledgable, thoughtful, and well-rounded person, and I’m insanely grateful.

From my heart, I understand – even applaud – the decision that’s been made, and I will miss you. It didn’t fully hit me until yesterday evening when no posts came to fill the strange vacuum following your fateful 1pm missive. Refreshing did nothing! Nothing? Nothing.


I have literally no idea how I am to get my news now. I went through the whole internet trying to add things to my Feedly, and I find myself skipping everything and forlornly looking back at my empty Daily Dish …


No words. None. I’ve been struggling with this since I read your post yesterday. Then re-read it. Then read it again, just to try and absorb it.

I’ve been reading you since the early days of the Iraq War, Abu-Ghraiband through all the madness since. You helped me clarify my own thinking on so many things in so many ways. Even when I didn’t agree, the Dish was thoughtful and welcome.

I will miss you all so much. I will miss Dishness. You were the best thing about my mornings, no matter how crappy the world was.


I think it was sometime in 2005 when I first heard your voice on a podcast of “Real Time with Bill Maher”, and I must admit that you mystified me a bit. So much about you felt very contradictory, I thought, who IS this guy?? But the more I’ve listened, and the more I’ve read, the more I’ve learned about the “liberalism” I apparently stand for, how to look at it more critically and fully, and how to more effectively parse the gray area that exists amid the extremes. That’s really hard to do these days. Thank you for teaching me how to think for myself.


If anything has kept me reading you, while I’ve long left behind the others (I used to read Mark Steyn compulsively), it’s your unpredictability, your breadth of curiosity, and your willingness to change your mind. First, of course, you were the gay conservative Catholic, a combination that sounds incoherent until you see it embodied in a real, thinking human being, as you were in your blog. Of course I didn’t agree with everything you said (though I ended up agreeing with an awful lot of it), but the honesty and passion (sometimes obsession) with which you would continue to make your case many times won my over, if only slowly.

Sometime in 2006, I think, it seemed that I was reading five posts a day about the federal andrew-sullivan-i-was-wrong-covermarriage amendment, and up to that point gay marriage was not an issue of interest for me, and if anything I leaned to mild opposition. But I kept reading, because I now had this connection to you and the blog, and your arguments, your reasoned arguments persuaded me (it would be the same story on the recognition of the disaster of the invasion of Iraq, or of the growing power of the maximalist settler movement in Israel, and others).

That brings me to the last, and for me most important, quality of your writing and thinking: your commitment to free debate, free speech, and free thought, in the fullest sense. It’s this liberal attitude that I fell in love with in college while studying philosophy, and which I respect so much in you. I now teach university in the US, and am dismayed at the trends I see and feel. It’s not so much that I have to be careful about what ideas I bring up, how my words might be misconstrued, or that a passing joke might be felt to cause offense to someone. It’s more what I see in my students, who have already learned these lessons so well that many of them seem unwilling to debate any remotely controversial idea in the classroom. When so few people seem to be willing to live out freedom of speech when it counts, you are a guiding example of its value.


Who the else is going to curate the Internet for me, keeping me abreast of current events while also keeping a keen eye out for psychedelics, Marilynne Robinson, animal cruelty and corporate media whoredom? Seriously. This is fucking impossible.

What a strange relationship. I’ve read a number of authors deeply. But the nature of the Dish is so personal, it feels like something different. In an amazing way, I have trusted you, and I’ve trusted you in a way that I have never trusted someone who is not actually a personal friend. I have allowed you to change me. I don’t think the same way I used to, I don’t occupy the same philosophical ground that I did pre-Dish.

I think the reason I allowed you to change me is that you yourself changed. You were publicly vulnerable in a way that few people are. The courage it took to do that has helped me over the years to muster the courage to truly examine my own beliefs, thoughts and opinions.


So long, and thanks for all the Dish.


I cannot actually remember the first time I read the blog, but it was awhile ago. I do remember telling my mother that she needed to read it … and read it she did. She and I would talk daily about the things you discussed – it was a connection we shared for many years. When something would happen in the world, we would often remark “I wonder what Andrew will have to say about this” or she would often tell me “Can you believe Andrew said that!!??” She was a big fan of yours, as am I.

When she died suddenly at the age of 71 a little over a year ago, I was devastated. But I kept reading The Dish, kept wondering what my mom would make of your take on the world she left too soon. Even now, I often remark aloud “Mom, I wish you were here to read this” or “Mom, Andrew’s lost his mind again.” It kept that connection, and I will forever be grateful.


I have little doubt that many of the emails you’ve received over the past 24 hours, like so many pregnantof the Andrew Sullivan encomia sprouting up in the political blogosphere, contain some version of the phrase, “despite your weird obsession with Trig Palin …” I’d like to take this opportunity to assure you that many of us consider your relentless focus on Palin and her nonsensical story of Trig’s birth as one of your finest hours as a blogger. It’s now glibly considered illegitimate and conspiratorial to look back on this episode for even a single moment, but you were correct to point out that Palin’s own version of this sequence of events is impossible to believe.

Now, I think it’s much more likely that Palin simply lied in her book and her public statements to dramatize the story of Trig’s delivery than that the pregnancy was some kind of hoax, but such brazen, public lying from a VP candidate is an entirely legitimate story. The mainstream press and most political blogs were and still are too cowardly to acknowledge this. You weren’t.


The only accurate way to state this is the simplest: You were the best practitioner of this “new thing” that has come along so far. And second place wasn’t particularly close.

You had an instinct for what political/cultural blogging could be; you were unrelentingly respectful of the diversity of thought and opinion that gravitated to you; you were unfailingly honest in admitting your mistakes in judgment (more so than virtually anyone in the business, Andrew); and you never stooped to insulting the intelligence of either your follower/subscribers or your adversaries. You never took the low road – even when you occasionally flipped out over something, and even when you were compelled by circumstances to comment on a certain former half-term governor (which took some doing).

The quality of the content – every single freaking day – was always first rate, whether I disagreed with you, or came out of my chair pumping my fist in the air. The best, most intellectually satisfying, challenging, and enlightening blog on the web.


Read On

The View From Your Window

Jan 29 2015 @ 2:00pm

VFMW 30 Oct 2014 11.19am

Rome, Italy, 12 pm. The reader writes:

When I read the news on the NYTimes yesterday, I had to fight back tears. They threatened to flow anew when I sat down to read your post. But I was left with a wide grin on my face when I realized what a gift you were giving us, your readers. You’ve liberated us, as well, and some of us can go back to living a less virtual and more authentic life.

I write and illustrate books for children, working out of my home studio in Rome, and I am per force reasonably self-disciplined, but damn it was hard not to take a break when the words or paints weren’t flowing to see what new tidbit you or your staff might have been posted. I’ll miss you like mad, but I just might get more done.

I sent the attached photo back in October (explaining how I’d discovered at my local market German-grown pumpkins resembling those I knew back in the States; my neighbors were duly impressed). I include it again by way of sharing what I, loyal reader and original subscriber, could see when I looked out the door of my studio … when my nose wasn’t buried in your blog.


We’re still processing your emails. I couldn’t look at the in-tray yesterday. But today, I ventured in and am still reeling from the range and depth and sincerity of so many of you. These are a first batch of immediate reactions (more to come). A reader writes:


Another reader:

Denial: Ha ha, very funny Andrew. Early April Fools! Got me there for a second. Probably just another vacation or sick leave. Yeah, gotta recharge those batteries, right. The staff will step in. Or some great guest bloggers. They always do a great job.

Anger: Wait, what? Seriously? Shit. Fuck! I mean … FUCK!

Bargaining: But you’ll stay on as editor, right? For the new Dish staff run group blog / new model internet magazine? I’ll increase my subscription! What do you need to make it work? $50? $100? Seriously, you gotta stick around. You can totally make it work as executive editor. Even as just a figure head! The staff is great! You wouldn’t want them to lose their jobs, would you? Take a break, however long you need – two weeks, a month, whatever – and get back to us. Whatever you need buddy; we’re here for you. We can get through it together.

Depression: Well, that’s it then. The Internet is dead to me.

Acceptance: *sob* We love you, Andrew, and we don’t want your last blog post to be a long string of “jjjjjjjjjjjjjjj” after you die face down on the keyboard. Be free! We your readers release you, our wild bear kept too long captive for our own amusement. Go! Perhaps in some distant happy day we will spy you from a distance in your natural habitat, frolicking on the beaches of Cape Cod, or stalking the dark alleys of D.C. Then we will know that it was the right thing to do – that we could only truly love you by letting you go.


I’ve heard of getting dumped by phone, by email, even by text … but getting dumped by blog?!?

Yes, it felt like a break-up. Another possible headline for that post would have been “It’s not you; it’s me.”

Another reader:

Oh, shit! Are you sure you’re not just being hysterical again?

It’s been a long time in the making. Another reader gets vivid:

I won’t pretend this hasn’t hit me like a bag of hammers to the essentials.


Holy crap Andrew, I need a drink.

We had many last night. Another reader:

But . . . but . . . but . . .

I just bought a fucking mug!!!

One of our longest-running and daily critics from the in-tray:

I am shocked and horrified! Don’t do this … find a way …

Another remembers the last time I tried to stop:

Andrew quits blogging? I hope the Pope’s doctors are on alert.


I’m sorry I took you for granted. It never crossed my mind when you would stop blogging. It’s just that you have always been there. Good days, bad days and everything in between. I’m really at a loss for words.


First Colbert and now the Dish? I am not sure what I’m going to do at work now.


I totally get this. In fact, in the last few weeks, I haven’t been reading The Dish as ardently as before. It wasn’t “you”. I was feeling the stress of the 24-hour news cycle myself.


Betrayed. That’s what I feel. I know it’s not fair and I don’t really understand it, but that’s the best word I have right now.

Maybe it’s because I was a subscriber, or maybe it’s because I’ve read and shared your articles for so long. But it’s like a piece of the internet is being taken out and now the whole is somehow much less. I had hoped I was supporting a new way of doing business, a way to be free of all the ads. But I guess the ads will win after all.

Another also fears the ads:

I just want the record to show that I would happily maintain my current subscription indefinitely for a single article a month from you, or any variation on such a theme that helped you do what you love and not kill yourself in the process. The Dish is not about maximizing content for me, but about smart, honest, opinionated journalism uninfected by the corrosive virus of advertising.

And you already know this. But it is also about love. It is about your ability to be not just a journalist, writer and opinionated public figure, but your ability to be a person just behind the screen of the blog – flawed, struggling, self-questioning, and occasionally a little bit heroic – for whom I can’t be the first to have professed a kind of love.

Go do your best, and let us know where that will be. We’ll follow.

Another won’t:

I got to your final post as a mistake, but once there I did read your final tripe. Wow you wasted 15 years of your life on that? You will have trouble living in the real world, which is a far cry from the bubble you have lived in. Don’t respond back, as I have no interest.

A different view:

Chatham, N.H.-12pm

Chatham, New Hampshire, 12 pm

A first-timer:

We’ve never met and I’ve never written in. I’m the ultimate Dish lurker: I go on multiple times a day and love all the different insights from readers/guest bloggers/Andrew/the team in general, but never felt like I had the requisite expertise or a unique-enough perspective to write in and improve the conversation. But today I realized I’ve been with this community long enough (just two years, which is far from the decades under other readers’ belts) to send a simple but genuine message to the Dish inbox: thanks.

Thanks back. More from you soon. Stay tuned.

Correction Of The Day

Jan 29 2015 @ 11:40am

A reader calls out Paul Farhi:

I’m sure you’ve got a flood of email coming in today. I just wanted to let you know that your readers are looking out for Dusty’s memory. See the attached email from WaPo media reporter Paul Farhi promising to correct his article that defamed her. I took a screenshot for the record:


No hard feelings, Paul. After all, I got my other dog wrong myself.

A Note To My Readers, Ctd

Jan 29 2015 @ 9:57am

Just to let you know that, in the immortal words of Mary Queen of Scots (see above), we’re not dead yet; we’re just figuring out the timing of ending the Dish, and hope to have a last hurrah of pure Dishness in the coming days. First up are your emails in response, which we are curating and reading as I write. There was an avalanche of them, so bear with us as we try to sort through it. We’re also a little hung over today, and the Dish team are human beings as I am. They have gone through all this with me, and they need a little time to process. But stay tuned for more Dish. We want to go out with a bang.

A Note To My Readers

Jan 28 2015 @ 1:00pm


One of the things I’ve always tried to do at the Dish is to be up-front with readers. This sometimes means grotesque over-sharing; sometimes it means I write imprudent arguments I have to withdraw; sometimes it just means a monthly update on our revenues and subscriptions; and sometimes I stumble onto something actually interesting. But when you write every day for readers for years and years, as I’ve done, there’s not much left to hide. And that’s why, before our annual auto-renewals, I want to let you know I’ve decided to stop blogging in the near future.

Why? Two reasons. The first is one I hope anyone can understand: although it has been the most rewarding experience in my writing career, I’ve now been blogging daily for fifteen years straight (well kinda straight). That’s long enough to do any single job. In some ways, it’s as simple as that. There comes a time when you have to move on to new things, shake your world up, or recognize before you crash that burn-out does happen.

The second is that I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully. I want to absorb a difficult book and walk around in my own thoughts with it for a while. I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape, rather than be instantly blogged. I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me. I want to write a book.

I want to spend some real time with my parents, while I still have them, with my husband, who is too often a ‘blog-widow’, my sister and brother, my niece and nephews, and rekindle the friendships that I have simply had to let wither because I’m always tied to the blog. And I want to stay healthy. I’ve had increasing health challenges these past few years. They’re not HIV-related; my doctor tells me they’re simply a result of fifteen years of daily, hourly, always-on-deadline stress. These past few weeks were particularly rough – and finally forced me to get real.

We’ll have more to say – and we’re sure you will as well – in due course. I particularly want to take some time to thank my indispensable, amazing colleagues in a subsequent post. For the time being, auto-renewals have been suspended and the pay-meter has been disabled. While we’re in this strange, animated suspension, I just wanted to take one post to thank you personally, the readers, founding members and subscribers to the Dish.

It’s been a strange relationship, hasn’t it? Some of you – the original white-on-navy ones – went through the 2000 election and recount with me, when I had to explain the word “blog” to anyone I met; we experienced 9/11 together in real time – and all the fraught months and years after; and then the Iraq War; and the gay marriage struggles of the last fifteen historic years. We endured the Bush re-election together and then championed – before almost anyone else – the Obama candidacy together. Remember that first night of those Iowa caucuses? Remember the titanic fight with the Clintons? And then the entire arc of the Obama presidency.

You were there when it was just me and a tip jar for six years, and at Time, and at The Atlantic, and the Daily Beast, and then as an independent company. When we asked you two years ago to catch us as we jumped into independence, you came through and then some. In just two years, you built a million dollar revenue company, with 30,000 subscribers, a million monthly readers, and revenue growth of 17 percent over the first year. You made us unique in this media world – and we were able to avoid the sirens of clickbait and sponsored content. We will never forget it.

You were there when I couldn’t believe Palin’s fantasies; and when we live-blogged the entire Green Revolution around the clock for nearly a month in 2009. You were there when I freaked out over Obama’s first debate against Romney; and you were with me as I came to realize just how deeply wrong I had been on Iraq. But we also fought for marriage equality together (and won!), and for a new post-Iraq foreign policy (getting there), and for legalizing weed (fuck you, Hickenlooper!). We faced the brutal reality of a Catholic church engaged in the rape of children, and the bleak truth about the United States and torture. And I think we made our contribution to all those struggles. The Dish made the case for Obama in a way that actually mattered when it mattered. I think we made the case for gay equality in a way no other publication did. And we lived through history with the raw intensity of this new medium, and through a media landscape of bewildering change.

I want to thank you, personally, for the honesty and wisdom of so many of your threads and conversations and intimacies, from late-term abortions and the cannabis closet to eggcorns and new poems, from the death of pets, and the meaning of bathroom walls to the views from your windows from all over the world. You became not just readers of the Dish, but active participants, writers, contributors. You trusted us with your own stories; you took no credit for them; and we slowly gathered and built a readership I wouldn’t trade for anyone’s.

You were there before I met my husband; you were there when I actually got married; and when I finally got my green card; and when Dusty – who still adorns the masthead – died. I can’t describe this relationship outside the rather crude term of “mass intimacy” but as I write this, believe me, my eyes are swimming with tears.

How do I say goodbye? How do I walk away from the best daily, hourly, readership a writer could ever have? It’s tough. In fact, it’s brutal. But I know you will understand. Because after all these years, I feel I have come to know you, even as you have come to see me, flaws and all. Some things are worth cherishing precisely because they are finite. Things cannot go on for ever. I learned this in my younger days: it isn’t how long you live that matters. What matters is what you do when you’re alive. And, man, is this place alive.

When I write again, it will be for you, I hope – just in a different form. I need to decompress and get healthy for a while; but I won’t disappear as a writer.

But this much I know: nothing will ever be like this again, which is why it has been so precious; and why it will always be a part of me, wherever I go; and why it is so hard to finish this sentence and publish this post.