Mickey Kaus: Alone Again, Naturally

For long-time observers of Mickey Kaus, this latest development (as reported by Politico‘s Dylan Byers) was thunderously predictable:

The blogger Mickey Kaus has quit his job at The Daily Caller after the conservative site’s editor-in-chief, Tucker Carlson, pulled a critical column about Fox News from the site, Kaus told the On Media blog on Tuesday.

“It’s pretty simple,” Kaus said in an interview, “I wrote a piece attacking Fox for not being the opposition on immigration and amnesty — for filling up the airwaves with reports on ISIS and terrorism, and not fulfilling their responsibility of being the opposition on amnesty and immigration…. I posted it at 6:30 in the morning. When I got up, Tucker had taken it down. He said, ‘We can’t trash Fox on the site. I work there.'”

Carlson, who co-founded The Daily Caller in 2010, is a conservative contributor to Fox News and the host of its weekend edition of “Fox & Friends.”

Kaus says when he told Carlson he needed to be able to write about Fox, Carlson told him it was a hard-and-fast rule, and non-negotiable.

“He said it was a rule, and he wouldn’t be able to change that rule. So I told him I quit,” Kaus explained. “I just don’t see how you can put out a publication with that kind of giant no-go area. It’s not like we’re owned by Joe’s Muffler Shop, so we just can’t write about Joe’s Muffler shop.”

This is a characteristic reason for Kaus to be leaving his latest gig: he’s not a team player, and thus has no inhibitions about calling out the coach for his “rules.” But I suspect that when Carlson hired Mickey four years ago, few long-time Kaus-watchers thought it would be the journalistic equivalent of the third or fourth marriage that finally works out.

In case you’re not familiar with the dude, Mickey Kaus was one of the very first political bloggers, an avocation he picked up not too long after fleeing Washington (where he worked for TNR, and yes, for WaMo) because it played hell with his allergies. He’s also, and I use this as a technical term rather than an insult, a crank, by which I mean a very smart guy who is eventually consumed by his obsessions and feuds. His Kaufiles blog was picked up by Slate–where he was reportedly one of the first, and probably one of the last, lavishly compensated bloggers–but after a while his “neoliberal” positioning began to look more like conservatism, and his aggressive eccentricity seemed to be making him more enemies than friends, and he left Slate to undertake a quixotic 2010 primary challenge to Sen. Barbara Boxer (Boxer squeaked by Mickey by a 81/5 margin, with a third candidate winning 13%).

It’s very Mickey-esque of Kaus to leave the Daily Caller because it wouldn’t let him attack Fox News from the right on immigration policy, one of his crankiest issue-obsessions. He may yet live long enough to replace his reflexive liberal-bashing with reflexive conservative-bashing. But he wouldn’t want to find a comfortable ideological home. So for now, he’s back where he belongs, with Kausfiles, alone again–naturally.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.