Michael Kinsley

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Michael Kinsley (born March 9, 1951) is an American political journalist and commentator. Primarily active in print media as both a writer and editor, he also became known to television audiences as a co-host on Crossfire. Kinsley has been a notable participant in the mainstream media's development of online content.

Early life and education

Kinsley was born to a Jewish[1] family in Detroit, Michigan. He attended the Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, then graduated from Harvard College in 1972. At Harvard, Kinsley served as vice president of the university's daily newspaper, The Harvard Crimson. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and studied at Magdalen College, Oxford, then returned to Harvard for law school.

Early career

While still a third-year law student, Kinsley began working at The New Republic. He was allowed to finish his Harvard juris doctor degree through courses at the evening program at The George Washington University Law School.

Kinsley's first exposure to a national television audience was as moderator of William Buckley's Firing Line. In 1979 Kinsley became editor of The New Republic and wrote that magazine's TRB column for most of the 1980s and 1990s. That column was also reprinted in a variety of newspaper op-ed pages, including the Washington Post, and made Kinsley's reputation as a leading political commentator. Kinsley also served as editor at Harper's (for a year and a half in the early 1980s), managing editor of Washington Monthly (in the mid-1970s, while still in school), and American Editor of The Economist (a short-term, honorary position).

Crossfire and Slate

In 1989 Kinsley agreed to take a position on CNN's Crossfire, co-hosting with conservative Pat Buchanan. Representing the liberal or left-wing position in the televised political debates, Kinsley combined a dry wit with nerdy demeanor and analytical skills. He appeared in three movies during those years: Rising Sun (1993), Dave (1993), and The Birdcage (1996).[citation needed]

He was considered for the position of editor in chief of The New Yorker.[2][3] The magazine was eventually handed to David Remnick.

In January 1995, Kinsley made a cameo appearance on the first episode of Women of the House, titled "Miss Sugarbaker Goes to Washington". In the episode, Suzanne Sugarbaker is a guest on the CNN political program Crossfire.[citation needed]

After leaving Crossfire in 1995, Kinsley returned to his editorial roots, relocating to Seattle and taking a position with Microsoft as founding editor of its online journal Slate. In 1999 he was named Editor of the Year by the Columbia Journalism Review for his work at that magazine. Kinsley stepped down from Slate in 2002, shortly after disclosing that he had Parkinson's disease.[4]

Subsequent positions

Kinsley next moved to the Los Angeles Times as editorial page editor in April 2004. He maintained his Seattle residence and often worked from there, commuting to Los Angeles on a part-time basis. During his tenure, Kinsley tried to overhaul the paper's editorial page and led an abortive experiment with a Wikitorial, while also receiving criticism from USC professor and feminist advocate Susan Estrich, alleging a dearth of editorials written by women. Kinsley announced his departure in September 2005 after a falling out with the publisher.[5] He returned to writing a weekly column that appeared in The Washington Post and Slate, and in 2006 he served briefly as American editor of The Guardian. He later became a regular columnist for Time magazine.[citation needed]

On July 12, 2006, Kinsley underwent a form of surgery known as deep brain stimulation, to treat his Parkinson's disease. Initial reports suggest that the operation was a success. According to a joke reference in Time, Kinsley's first words out of the operating room were "Well, of course, when you cut taxes, government revenues go up. Why couldn't I see that before?"[6]

In May 2009 Kinsley revealed in a story reviewing a new issue of Newsweek in The New Republic that he had been fired by Time.[7]

On September 9, 2010, Kinsley, along with MSNBC pundit Joe Scarborough, joined the staff of Politico as the publication's first opinion columnists. On April 29, 2011, Bloomberg L.P. announced that Kinsley has joined the Bloomberg View editorial board. In January 2013, Kinsley re-joined The New Republic as editor at large.[8]

In January 2014, Vanity Fair announced that Kinsley would become a contributing editor and write a monthly column.[9]


In 2002 Kinsley married Patty Stonesifer, previously married with adult children. Stonesifer is a frequent television commentator who was responsible for the former Microsoft news portion of the MSNBC merger (including Slate magazine, where Kinsley served as an editor.) Stonesifer served as chief executive officer of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for 11 years, and is now a senior adviser. In 2002 Kinsley publicly revealed that he had Parkinson's disease.[10]

See also


  1. Jewish Journal: "What will New Republic exodus mean for American Jewish thought?" by Anthony Weiss December 9, 2014
  2. Colford, Paul (July 16, 1998). "Figures Tell Grim New Yorker Story". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 12, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Shafer, Jack (June 6, 2011). "I Would Have Loved To Piss on Your Shoes". Slate. Retrieved April 12, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Staff (December 10, 2001). "Going Public With Parkinson's". CBSNews.com. CBS Interactive, Inc. Retrieved January 25, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Kurtz, Howard (September 14, 2005). "Michael Kinsley and the LA Times Part on 'Unfortunate Note'". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 12, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Kinsley, Michael (July 16, 2006). "Yes, It Really Is Brain Surgery". Time. Retrieved May 12, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Kinsley, Michael (2009-05-21). "Backward Runs 'Newsweek'". The New Republic. Archived from the original on 2010-02-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Michael Kinsley Returns To The New Republic As Editor-At-Large". 2012-12-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Michael Kinsley Named Columnist for Vanity Fair". Vanity Fair. January 19, 2014. Retrieved February 13, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Kinsley, Michael (July 31, 2008). "The Audacity of Bill Gates". Time. Retrieved May 12, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

External links