Ok, so, this'll probably get a little long-winded and I'll apologize in advance. So much has been asked and speculated and surmised and whatever that I sort of feel like there's more of a record that needs to be set straight than just saying, this is how the firing went down.
So, from the beginning, I guess: I started doing the Ask A Lobbyist column in August of '06 in the midst of a soul-suckingly awful stint at a consulting firm (and, at a really difficult time in my personal life). When the Anonymous Hill Staffer guy left, Alex Pareene put out a call for entries (Hillies or whomever) and I sent an email, he thought it was funny and I started writing. A lot of the time I wrote drunk. Once I wrote drunk, sick and late at night from Vietnam (a business trip). My dad and a couple of friends that knew about it thought it was hilarious that I was able to stay anonymous because it sounded so much like talking to me when I had my rant pants on. It was never great money (Peter, aka Princess Sparkle Pony, called it "shoe money" to me once, and he was right) but it was a good outlet for a lot of frustration with both the job I was in and the anti-lobbyist backlash in the world (when, really, the politicians are as bad if not worse).
Then that October I got a new job and kept doing the columns because I liked it. It was one of the few times I got be be creative in my writing (press releases=not very fun) and I had inadvertently (again) stumbled into a job for which I wasn't particularly suited experience-wise (they should've hired someone with less), politically (they told me they were very non-partisan and no one there was) or interest-wise (because they didn't let me do any intellectually stimulating work nearly the entire time I was there).
In the mean time, Alex put me in touch with Moe Tkacik and we hit it off and she liked my writing and she asked if I would be interested in taking over "That's So Janes" at Jezebel, and I was. They posted my first one when I was on a cross-country road trip with my cousin and, when I came back, my employer laid me off. That sucked. It was also just about the time that Alex was leaving to work for Gawker and John Clarke was joining Wonkette and it seemed like serendipitous timing to me because I realized that I was burnt out at being a lobbyist and that I'd only ever had two jobs (of 6) that I liked and that was because of the bosses I'd had.
So, I spent October unemployed, writing columns for Jezebel and Wonkette and looking for work and trying to decide on a career transition (work on the Hill, for a non-profit, see what could come of the writing thing, etc.). Anna was heading off on a vacation and Moe pitched me as a guest editor and Anna agreed; in the mean time, John Clarke said he wanted to hire me because he liked my voice and my insider-y-ness and because it was a woman's voice- but that I needed a trial run and so that's what my Jezebel guesting stint became.
And I found I really liked it, despite the pace and everything. So, while we were negotiating during my trial period, for the record, no one pressured me to stop being anonymous. But, I figured that if I was going to make the jump to blogging/writing/journalism, I should do it whole-heartedly. If it failed, well, I'd be in no worse a position than I was in last October but at least I would have a body of work for which I could take credit. And, on using the pictures, well, I was egged on by my gay best friend and a really good photographer the day after my 30th birthday and the day after the man I'd been dating decided (at 4:20) that he needed a break from our relationship because it was too much pressure. That made for a fun birthday, though Alex's going-away party was a good way to get out of the house. And I figured that, if nothing else, no one would be scoping my Facebook profile or a cached version of my (now defunct) website looking for sexier or less flattering pictures of me (and, I was right). Plus, my idea of what's not shocking (lying fully clothed in a bathtub with the shower going) was never quite in tune with most of DC's, as my grad school classmates can attest.
So, I outed myself and started working and trying to be true to the vision for the site that was laid out for me: newsy, cynical, (yes) snarky, funny when it warranted, insider-y, etc. And then things were thrown into chaos with John's abrupt departure and Jim and I ended up basically running the site for a month. Despite the fact that we still had to post 10 times a day in addition to doing administrative stuff (which made for long days) and the fact that December's never a great month, I thought we did pretty well: traffic went steadily up, I didn't think our writing quality declined, etc. Plus, Jim and I have similarly collaborative working styles and complementary interests, so it was rare that we ever wanted to write the same story.
We found out Ken Layne was starting about the same time everyone else did on January 2nd and were both really super excited. That wore off a little quickly for me, as it was obvious from the get-go that he was not a fan of my writing. He didn't think I was funny and he didn't like when I was serious or rant-y and it was pretty clear to me by last weekend that what happened was going to happen. I was still in the probationary phase of my contract (3 months and I'd get 2 weeks notice), but I figured that he might let that run down before letting me go. I was wrong.
He very politely called me at 5:30 on Friday (which: standard HR practice, truly) to tell me that it had been my last day writing for Wonkette. He told me that the intention of bringing him back was to move the site towards being what it was under him and Alex and that my voice and writing didn't fit with that vision -- and he's right, it doesn't. In that editorial environment, I would stick out like a sore thumb, and he said he wanted a more uniform tone. He said that I should finish what I was doing, write a goodbye and call it a day. Getting fired sucks, but he wasn't a dick about it.
So, I finished my post on the Texas guy and the Sharon Jones video that Eric Brewer had done, and contemplated what to write for a little while. I had a short conversation over IM with Anna and Moe to let them know what was going on, and to ask if I would still be contributing to Crappy Hour and whether they might be able to pay me for some contributions and they said yes, so I added that to the goodbye. I also called my parents and emailed some people so that no one would completely freak out when it went up. And then I pushed "Publish" and logged out of the system.
So, to some of the stuff that's been said on the comment boards and others. It didn't feel, nor was it presented, like sexism and I doubt seriously that Ken was jealous of me, given that he comes with like 20 some years of experience and his own following. Ken's assessment of my fit with where he wants to take Wonkette is completely accurate, even if the results of that are personally devastating to me. I have no idea whether Nick Denton was informed of or gave any input to Ken about the decision to fire me, though my (admittedly limited) experience with him suggests to me that he was probably like "Do what you think best" if he was told.
So, that's the story. It is, admittedly, kind of boring. And now I'm going back to bed for a couple of hours because I was out late, up early and I like sleeping. Then I'll get on the job search train.