Whew. Readers of and workers at the conservative Washington Times can breathe easier now. New Editor John Solomon, who toiled at the Washington Post for a year and before that at the AP, says he didn't drink the Post 's Kool-Aid. "I didn't get the bug," he told an intimate gathering last night at the Heritage Foundation, where former Times Editor-in-Chief Wesley Pruden and former Managing Editor Fran Coombs were feted for building the Times. That should bring relief to those inside and outside the paper who had worried that the recent hire was an indication that its owners wanted to tilt it center-left. In fact, Times workers have largely praised Solomon's approach at the city's No. 2 newspaper, where I once held the White House correspondent's job for 10 years.
About the dinner: It was hosted by Heritage boss Edwin Feulner and VP Rebecca Hagelin. Joining the headliners were friends and family, Times workers like "Inside the Beltway" columnist John McCaslin, and others like former Times editorial page editor Tony Blankley and Mark Tapscott, former Times and Heritage exec who now runs the Washington Examiner's editorial page. Blankley praised Pruden and Coombs for having journalistic guts, and Feulner said the Times was a must-read, calling it "politically incorrect by design." Pruden, who retired to write a book but will continue his Times column, stated, "It's been a great run." He and Coombs both said they were pleased the owners chose Solomon as the new editor. Coombs, who stepped aside to let Solomon pick his own deputy, explained that his oft-stated motto "Journalism is war" was meant as a "rallying cry" to new reporters, who were urged to dig up exclusive stories to help the paper make its mark. And the huge Beatles fan described his long teaming with Pruden this way: "Wes and I were the Lennon and McCartney of the Washington Times."