After close to a year of authoring a blog hosted by the Web site of The New York Observer, journalist Philip Weiss has decided to pull up stakes and strike out on his own.
The reasons, Weiss said, were part economic, part political.
“I wanted money after a year, and the Observer didn’t want to pay me, and they were uncomfortable with my politics,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Forward.
Over the past year, Weiss has devoted considerable space on his blog — called MondoWeiss (now located at www.philipweiss.org/mondoweiss) — to the question of American Jews and Israel. He has been a champion of the controversial paper published last year by political scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, in which they argue that the “Israel Lobby” wields too much power over American foreign policy.
According to Observer editor Peter Kaplan, Weiss’s move was initiated not by the paper but by the writer. Though Kaplan conceded that he and Weiss differed over money, he insisted that he has no trouble with Weiss’s politics.
“I love Philip as a writer and as a human being,” Kaplan said. “As far as I’m concerned, he could have run his blog under the Observer’s auspices forever.” Kaplan said that he hopes to continue to use Weiss as a writer for the paper’s print edition.
In his new blog’s maiden post, Weiss, who considers himself an anti- or non-Zionist, retreated a bit from the charge that the Observer was uncomfortable with his politics. Instead, he said, the paper’s site was perhaps an inappropriate venue for his own personal thoughts on Israel and America, especially ones that draw a hostile response.
“One of the problems with the Observer site was the invective,” he wrote, “which I did a lousy job of policing.” He invited visitors to his new site to be courteous. “If people want to comment, they should keep out obscenity, scatology, etc. You know where the line is.”
The Observer has itself seen some changes of late. Bought in August by Jared Kushner, the 26-year-old son of scandal-plagued New Jersey developer Charles Kushner, the paper switched last month from broadsheet to tabloid format.