The New York Times reported this morning that one of its leading lights, columnist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof, is resigning to pursue a run for Oregon governor.
The paper first announced the move internally in a note from editorial page editor Kathleen Kingsbury. (Like Kristof, who grew up in Yamhill, Kingsbury is an Oregon native who grew up in Portland.)
“Nick has been a generous colleague and constant source of wise counsel, journalistic creativity and ambitious standard-setting in his years with us,” Kingsbury wrote. “Nick has shown us how to pursue journalism as both a noble and a purposeful mission, to help the less fortunate and force the powerful and privileged not to look away from the pain so common in this world. He did so not in a hectoring or guilt-inducing way, but in the spirit of trying to make a difference.”
The Times’ employee handbook prohibits news staff from involving themselves directly in politics beyond voting.
“Journalists have no place on the playing fields of politics. Staff members are entitled to vote, but they must do nothing that might raise questions about their professional neutrality or that of The Times,” the document says. “In particular, they may not campaign for, demonstrate for, or endorse candidates, ballot causes or efforts to enact legislation.”
As WW first reported during the summer, Kristof has been pondering a run for several months and has more recently set about preparing a legal argument for why he meets the Oregon Constitution’s requirement to be a state resident for three years before entering the governor’s race. The complication is that Kristof voted in New York in November 2020.
Kristof will soon join a Democratic primary field that already includes Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla, House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), State Treasurer Tobias Read and at least six other candidates.
Kristof, who worked as a reporter from 1984 until 2001, and as a roving columnist since, said he’d always expected he’d retire when he stopped working at the Times. But that plan changed.
“I’ve gotten to know presidents and tyrants, Nobel laureates and warlords, while visiting 160 countries,” Kristof said in statement on Thursday. “And precisely because I have a great job, outstanding editors and the best readers, I may be an idiot to leave. But you all know how much I love Oregon, and how much I’ve been seared by the suffering of old friends there. So I’ve reluctantly concluded that I should try not only to expose problems but also see if I can fix them directly.”