Poor Andrew quit, he tells us, because grossing seven figures a year while being his own boss was so terrible a burden that it was not worth it.
“The truth is, I had to stop primarily because it was killing me,” Sullivan said Sunday night at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan. “I used to joke that if blogging does kill someone, I would be the first to find out.”
He described the grueling pace that he maintained along with a small editorial staff.
“This is 40 posts a day — every 20 minutes, seven days a week,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan has been lying low since he penned his farewell post for “The Dish,” the politics and culture blog he founded in 2000. When CNNMoney requested an interview earlier this month, Sullivan declined, saying he was “in detox from media for a while.”
In announcing his retirement from blogging in January, Sullivan cited “increasing health challenges.” He said those health struggles weren’t related to the HIV he’s lived with for more than 20 years, but rather the stress of a profession that he helped make mainstream.
On Sunday, while speaking to veteran journalist Jeff Greenfield, Sullivan said that the “crushing” workload was only part of what made his job so overwhelming. The experience, Sullivan said, was often dehumanizing.
“Here’s what I would say: I spent a decade of my life, spending around seven hours a day in intimate conversation with around 70,000 to 100,000 people every day, ” Sullivan said. “And inevitably, for those seven hours or more, I was not spending time with any actual human being, with a face and a body and a mind and a soul.”
Sullivan said the job resulted in lost friendships and minimal contact with his family. He said his husband, whom Sullivan married in 2007, called himself a “blog widow.”
No longer tethered to his computer, Sullivan said he’s resolved to exercise and meditate each day, and to get eight hours of sleep. He expressed relief that he wasn’t forced to cover the recent controversy over Hillary Clinton’s emails.
“I couldn’t imagine blogging the next election,” he said. “I will not spend another minute of my time writing about the Clintons. Period. Or the Bushes.”
Andrew, of course, was an extremely prolific and (allowing for his left-wing derangement and common intellectual dishonesty) high quality blogger. Andrew’s own editorials were usually claptrap, but he was an excellent editor and anthologist.
40 blog posts a day is a lot, probably more than anyone really needs, but Andrew had the professional assistance of a paid staff of at least four, plus several part-timers and usually one or more interns. I’ve often thought that I could do a pretty competitive big-time job of blogging if I had half a dozen assistants combing through the web for me all day, and all I had to do was dash off the occasional think piece along with titles and opening lines.
I’m afraid I don’t buy the “it was all too exhausting” story. Andrew obviously loves blogging. He is an attention junkie and a news, politics, and cutural obsessive.
What I think must have happened is, that as Andrew arrived at the beginning of his third year of trying to make a go of it as an independent blogger supported by reader subscriptions, and it was time for Andrew’s readers to pony up again, the subscription and renewal rate (which Andrew usually like to boast about), this year started falling off. Andrew looked at his wall, and saw “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.”
Experiments like Andrew’s thrive on being a hot new thing. Even a talented blogger like Andrew Sullivan will, after three years, have done as much new as he can do. My guess is that subscriptions began going down, and Andrew thought long and hard, and realized (not unintelligently) that there was nothing he could do, the future was only going to go one way. So Andrew decided to pull the plug while he still looked successful, before everyone caught wise and recognized that the game was up. Better to go out voluntarily a winner, than to be seen to lose.
My own guess is that Andrew will be back blogging again before very long, just as soon as he can put together a paying gig. The real question I have is: Will the logical Republican Revolution starting in 2016 make Andrew turn his coat around again? Will the next new Andrew be Republican and conservative?