Perry Bacon Jr. quits Washington Post for NBC

Perry Bacon Jr. has resigned as Washington Post national political reporter to become political editor of NBC’s theGrio.com and a contributor to MSNBC, according to a Post memo (h/t Michael Calderone).

A Bacon reporting controversy on my site four years ago brought in the only email I’ve received from Leonard Downie Jr. in all my years of covering media.

Perry Bacon Jr.

The story: In December of 2007, I posted a journalism professor Chris Daly’s blog post questioning Bacon’s page one story and his credentials. The j-prof wrote:

Who is Perry Bacon Jr.? I don’t really know, but in two minutes of Googling him, I learned that he graduated from Yale in 2002, so he is approximately 27 years old. Since when does the Post assign 27-year-olds to write Page 1 presidential campaign pieces? … This is fast-tracking with a vengeance — a problem that I thought the Post had gotten past.

Leonard Downie Jr.

Former Post executive editor Downie didn’t like that. He called Daly’s post “an outrageous personal attack on a fine young journalist, and I’m disappointed that it has been given circulation on Romenesko.” He continued:

The Washington Post has now and has had in the past many outstanding journalists like Perry who successfully take on great responsibility here at a similar age. Daly, however, during his time as a contract stringer for this newspaper, failed to earn a similar role for himself. And now, he says, he depends on Google for his shoddy reporting. Daly owes Perry Bacon an apology and Romenesko needs to be more discriminating.

David von Drehle also weighed in with an excellent defense of young journalists:

You could make a pretty good anthology out of the under-30 journalism of David Remnick, Michael Lewis, Malcolm Gladwell, Kate Boo, Mark Singer, Wil Haygood, Tom Friedman, Susan Faludi, Carl Hiaasen, Richard Ben Cramer — you get the idea. Journalism is, to a large extent, a kid’s game. …

My ideal journalism professor would be a person who knows the capacity of young writers and fires them up, rather than one who draws arbitrary and unfounded limits on their potential. Whether a piece of journalism works or doesn’t has nothing to do with the writer’s age

TODAY’S MEMO ABOUT BACON LEAVING THE POST

From: Kevin Merida
Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Subject: Perry Bacon leaving

STAFF NEWS: PERRY BACON LEAVING

We are sad to announce that Perry Bacon, Jr. is leaving The Post to become political editor of NBC’s theGrio.com and a contributor to MSNBC.

Perry has been a key member of National’s political team since 2007, when he arrived from Time magazine to cover the 2008 presidential campaign.

He has traveled the country for us, and written about the forces that have shaped the political landscape in the era of Obama. Perry has covered Congress, the White House and, most recently, the Republican presidential race.

We have benefited from his sharp analytical mind, and have always appreciated his sophisticated understanding of public policy. We wish him well.

Caking details to come.

Kevin Marilyn Steven

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