Congratulations, Bill McGurn!


When I arrived in Washington in 2007 to interview for a speechwriting position in the Bush White House, I was an absolute wreck. I had flown into D.C. late on a Sunday night so that I could go in early on Monday morning, immediately jump on a plane back to Los Angeles, and make sure that — having missed only one day of work — my employer at the time wouldn’t catch on to the fact that the President of the United States was making a play for one of his employees. This was a particularly salient consideration given that I was sure I wouldn’t get the job.

Being barely 24 at that point — and never having worked in government beyond the state level — my heart was in my throat the entire time. The late night flight didn’t help. By the time I got into my hotel in Georgetown it was nearly midnight. I was supposed to arrive at the White House at 6 AM. I set seven alarms that night. I am not exaggerating.

The next morning didn’t dampen the surrealism of the experience. Stopping into the Starbucks across the street from the White House pre-dawn, the only people in the joint were myself and Helen Thomas (at which point I had to wonder whether this was confirmation that I was having an authentic Washington experience or confirmation that I had, in fact, overslept and was trapped in a night terror. Thank God that most of her years in the White House Press Corps pre-dated HD cameras).

When I arrived at the White House, I had expected to be guided in by someone. Instead, they moved me through security and I walked the North Lawn alone to the front doors of the West Wing as the sun rose over the executive mansion. In written form, I know this sounds like a moment of glory. Perhaps it would have been for a sturdier soul. For me — raised far from the trappings of political power — it was an epic battle with incontinence. 

The reason I tell this story now is so that you have a sense of just what kind of man it would have taken to put you at ease in such a sensory maelstrom. That man was Bill McGurn, who, from the moment I was in his presence, made me feel as if I was visiting an old friend for a casual lunch.

The old saw has it that you spend your first few months in Washington asking “How did I ever get here?” and all the time from there on out asking “How the hell did everyone else get here?” That latter thought never crossed my mind in regards to Bill. He is the kind of man you imagined in government back during your childhood, before you knew that virtue could be a fireable offense in Washington.

He’s the kind of guy you’d want as a next-door neighbor; the kind of guy you wouldn’t hesitate for a heartbeat to leave your kids with for an evening. You may have to have spent some time in the Beltway to know how rarely one can say that about someone who was senior White House staff. He’s also the kind of guy you’d want as a boss regardless of whether you worked at the corner store or the West Wing. Which is why I’m tremendously jealous of the folks manning the editorial pages of the New York Post:

William McGurn, the News Corp VP and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, has been named editorial page editor of the New York Post, the paper announced today.

McGurn previously served as chief editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal and currently writes speeches for News Corp chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch. He will replace Bob McManus, who intends to retire next month after twelve years in the editor’s chair.

The Post, already a fine paper, has made an exquisite decision. Where a first-class writer would have sufficed, they have instead picked up a first-class writer and a man of integrity, grace and wisdom. His virtues are such that I think you can even forgive him the misfire of my employment.

Congratulations to Bill. Nice guys do occasionally finish first.

There are 18 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Profile Photo Contributor

    It almost doesn’t seem fair that so much professional success should accrue to Bill, given that he’s already been blessed with one of the most beautiful families you’ll find anywhere–his amazing wife Julie and their three lovely daughters. But only almost; this is well-deserved indeed, and congratulations are certainly in order for both the McGurns and the New York Post.  Cheers, Bill!

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Inactive

    Surely now the Post will replace the Times as the newspaper of record.

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Podcaster

    Outstanding news! Congratulations!

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Contributor

    I appreciate Troy’s generosity of spirit but let me add a dash of realism to the brew. Yes, I hired Troy — my very last hire, with Marc Thiessen, my successor. I hired Meghan too. Let me reassure Ricochet readers: this was not Christian altruism. This was hard-headed self-interest. These two people made me look better than I am. In many ways that’s the secret of life: hire people smarter than you are and give them free reign. I’ve been a little absent from Ricochet these last few weeks as this new future beckons. Let me say, publicly, that I have a hard time leaving my home at the Wall Street Journal, for which I worked over many years on three continents and in several war zones. Paul Gigot has been a superb editor, and though I know I have brought him grief for some of my stands, he has never inhibited me in the slightest. If I prove to be worthy as editorial page editor of the Post, it’s because I’ve had good bosses myself. Meghan and Troy are young, so please forgive their mistaken attribution to me of a wisdom that owes more to their talents.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Inactive

    Congratulations Bill and may I suggest that what the Post really needs is more of us snippy commenters to cause the online page editors added grief each morning.

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Contributor

    Sometimes there’s a gread deal of wisdom in a snip…

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Moderator

    It is in no small part thanks to the company of Bill and his charming wife on an NR cruise that Mrs. Of England is happy to be on Ricochet, and comfortable with the thought of moving to live in a yet-unvisited USA. Bill’s discussion of deutero-Isaiah, in particular, remains the academic theological conversation that I think made her think and made her smile more than any other since we reunited.

    For me, Bill’s gift was helping me think through my thoughts and feelings about Romney at a point when I was feeling doubt (I wasn’t a huge fan of No Apologies), even though he mildly disagreed with my views.

    Whatever he talked about, he conveyed modesty, tremendous knowledge, and a reassuring persona that comforted you into almost forgetting the greatness of the man in whose presence you were. He was consistently fair, and generous in spirit even when talking about those he condemned. The Post is a combative newspaper, and his insight and wit will contribute to that, but it is particularly important for such a paper to be run by an unimpeachably and obviously good man.

    Great choice, NYP.

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Inactive

    Knew there was a reason I liked the Post. The NY Post app on my phone is my daily newspaper. If it added just a little bit more national news to its mix it would seriously add its circulation.

    Looking forward to the opinion page under Bill’s guidance and fine hand.

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Member

    It’s nice to know that there will still be one NYC paper with an editorial page I can read without having my head explode. Of course, the dream job at the Post is writing the front and backpage headlines, but this is good too. Congratulations!

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Inactive
    Nick Stuart: Knew there was a reason I liked the Post. The NY Post app on my phone is my daily newspaper. If it added just a little bit more national news to its mix it would seriously add its circulation.

    Looking forward to the opinion page under Bill’s guidance and fine hand. · 24 minutes ago

    Thanks for the tip: I’ve just added it.

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Inactive

    But… But… What about “Main Street?”

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Member


    • #12
  13. Profile Photo Inactive

    whooo hoooo!  

    Hope dawns.  Maybe all isn’t totally lost, if a paper like that can still pull off a coup like this.

    I don’t envy Bill and family the coming flak, however.

    May God grant you thick  skins and light hearts to match your strong minds and staunch principles. May your illative sense be shrewd and searching and sure.  May your enemies be scattered.  And your courage high.  May your people skills multiply…

    There’s practically no virtue or grace you’re not going to urgently need for the journey ahead, frankly.

    Maybe not thrift or cheerfulness in poverty.  Though, those might come in handy, too, in case they cross a line.  Or demand that you cross one you can’t.

    Anyway, whatever.  I’m sure you’re up to it all.  Godspeed!

    • #13
  14. Profile Photo Inactive

    I bet this will get you a free subscription to Commentary. Talk about perks ! 

    Say hello to Mr Hamilton.

    • #14
  15. Profile Photo Member

    No doubt, Troy and Meghan will soon be Post columnists….

    • #15
  16. Profile Photo Member

    Congratulations, McGurn (I can’t believe I’m contemplating subscribing to the ny post).

    • #16
  17. Profile Photo Contributor

    I’m late to this party, Bill, but congratulations.  In all the wide, colorful world of American journalism, I can’t imagine any more wonderful fit between an editor and the page he edits than you’re about to display at the Post.

    Glorious news.

    • #17
  18. Profile Photo Member

    Congratulations, Bill!  I’ll miss you on “Main Street”, but I’ll be happy to visit you at the NYP.

    • #18
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.