Jonathan Chait is an American liberal pundit and writer for New York magazine. He was previously a senior editor at The New Republic and an assistant editor of The American Prospect. He writes a periodic column in the Los Angeles Times.
Chait usually writes about domestic politics and policy. Many of his writings are critiques of what he perceives to be illogical conservative positions.
A self-described liberal hawk, he has written pieces critical of left-wing figures such as Naomi Klein and wrote a New Republic cover article condemning Delaware’s tax haven policies.
Jonathan Chait was an initial supporter of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. He later drew considerable attention with his “Case for Bush Hatred,” in which he defended his dislike not only of Bush’s policies but also his personality and mannerisms.
Chait occasionally writes about sports, particularly stories involving his alma mater, the University of Michigan, where he was a columnist for The Michigan Daily.
He strongly criticized the editorial staff of The Detroit Free Press after a controversial article by Michael Rosenberg that alleged systematic infractions of NCAA rules by the Michigan football program under former head coach Rich Rodriguez.
Jonathan Chait suggested Rosenberg’s editor should “lose his job” and referred to the investigation’s methodology as “journalistic malpractice.”
- Born: 1972 (age 49 years), United States
- Nationality: American
- Spouse: Robin Chait an analyst and pro-charter school advocate
- Education: University of Michigan, Andover High School
- Books: Audacity: How Barack Obama Defied His Critics and Created a Legacy That Will Prevail (2017)
- The Big Con (2007)
Jonathan Chait began working at The New Republic in 1995. In January 2010, The New Republic replaced The Plank, TNR’s group blog, with the Jonathan Chait Blog. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, and Reason.
He took over The New Republic’s TRB column from Peter Beinart in March 2007. Jonathan Chait was named a finalist for the 2009 Ellie (National Magazine Award) in the Columns and Commentary category for three of his 2008 columns.
On March 16, 2009, Jonathan Chait appeared on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report to counter conservative arguments that the New Deal was a failure. The impetus for that appearance was an article that he wrote for The New Republic, “Wasting Away in Hooverville”.
Jonathan Chait appears in The Rivalry, a 2007 HBO documentary about the history and culture of the Michigan-Ohio State football rivalry. Jonathan Chait joined the staff of New York magazine on September 6, 2011, leaving his post as senior editor of The New Republic.
He explained his move: “Obviously, I love TNR and had no plans to leave, but the opportunity at New York was irresistible.
Everybody who works there raves about it, and my friends in journalism have noticed for a while it’s become phenomenal — ‘the best magazine in America’, as one editor friend of mine told me.”
Jonathan Chait Says He’s Glad Trump Won
On Wednesday, New York magazine’s periodic all-hands staff meeting came with a little bonus for the assembled staff: a 15-minute, onstage discussion between writer-at-large Rebecca Traister and columnist Jonathan Chait, with the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Adam Moss, sitting in as moderator.
All three are big deals in journalism circles for different reasons. Traister is the voice of watchful liberal feminism. Jonathan Chait is the voice of the damp and shrinking neoliberal consensus. And Adam Moss is a guy with enough National Magazine Awards to gag David Remnick.
According to half a dozen staffers in attendance, it was during this brief off-the-record discussion that Jonathan Chait let his colleagues know that, in fact, a part of him is glad Donald Trump won the presidency.
This wasn’t an accelerationist argument. This came in response to a question about how Jonathan Chait and Traister balance their roles as citizens with their roles as journalists. Were they at all happy for the tremendous content of a Trump era? (This idea comes up a lot among journalists.
In Showtime’s documentary about The New York Times, executive editor Dean Baquet, after watching Trump’s inauguration address, marvels out loud: “What a story. What a fucking story.”)
“Traister went first and gave the right answer, which is ‘no,‘” one employee, who’s been granted anonymity to speak freely about an off-the-record meeting, told HuffPost. “She said there isn’t ‘a single-molecule’ of her that is happy Trump won and that we’ll all face repercussions for generations.”
Chait, however, answered the question with an affirmative “one hundred percent.”
In his writing, at least, Jonathan Chait seems generally aware of the stakes of a Trump presidency. He’s previously made reference to Trump’s “crazy, racist beliefs.” He’s pointed out that “the human toll of the cruelty [of Trump’s policies] has horrified immigration-rights activists.”
But in the New York meeting, he was glibber. “He compared the situation to Jerry Seinfeld’s bit about how, from the back seat of a cab, the whole world outside becomes entertainment,” the New York magazine staffer explained. “He said he’s deadened his emotions to a point where he doesn’t get emotionally involved with the Trump situation.”
According to the staffer, Jonathan Chait said with a laugh: “Maybe that makes me a sociopath.” Some of the employees in attendance said the group was stunned by Jonathan Chait’s response; others were less surprised to hear this sentiment come from a self-described disenfranchised white man.
In an email to HuffPost, Jonathan Chait clarified that he was referring to this Seinfeld routine, “in which he describes the experience of riding in a cab and feeling like you’re watching something happening to somebody else.”
Jonathan Chait also added that his comments “were intended for an audience which, I assume, was familiar with my work and the obvious seriousness with which I take politics in general and Trump in particular.
I was commenting in an ironic and self-deprecating fashion about the way in which I can professionally disassociate myself from the events I am commenting on.”
Jonathan Chait is a writer for New York magazine and the author of The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics. He is a former senior editor at the New Republic.
On February 22, 2010, following an investigation stemming from allegations raised in Rosenberg’s article, the university announced that the NCAA has found probable cause that the school committed five major violations, corroborating some of the allegations in Rosenberg’s article.
On May 24, 2010, the University of Michigan responded to the NCAA Notice of Allegations, stating in part, “the University is satisfied that the initial media reports were greatly exaggerated if not flatly incorrect.
Jonathan Chait then claimed Rosenberg’s allegations that Rodriguez “operated a football sweatshop has been totally debunked.”
On September 26, 2011, Jonathan Chait, while admitting he had not read Gilad Atzmon’s book The Wandering Who, in order to assess the context of a number of quotes, responded to John Mearsheimer’s comment about Atzmon’s book by citing passages which he regarded as characteristically anti-semitic.
On January 27, 2015, Jonathan Chait wrote an article for New York magazine on political correctness, which he labeled “a system of left-wing ideological repression” and cited examples from academia and social media.
Jonathan Chait’s piece drew parallels between forms of political correctness popular in the 2010s with those popular in the 1990s. However, he also argued that the advent of social media had contributed to a form of political correctness that was more ubiquitous and less constrained to academia.
Jonathan Chait is an American liberal pundit and writer