Contrary to the stereotype of the Harvard graduate, Michael E. Kinsley '72 spends more time downplaying his many successes than talking about them.
In the last 25 years, Kinsley has spent 10 years as managing editor of The New Republic and six years hosting CNN's "Crossfire."
Kinsley currently heads Slate, Microsoft Corp.'s on-line "Webzine," a magazine on politics and culture.
But looking in the Class of 1972's 25th anniversary report, none of these achievements can be found. Kinsley simply lists his occupation as "journalist."
Ask Kinsley about being named a Rhodes Scholar and he says that he was probably selected because of "a lapse of standards."
"Not all Rhodes scholars are scholars, although many of them are," Kinsley says. "I just wasn't one of them."
"It was a period of distraction, and I certainly didn't take as much advantage of the opportunity to learn as I should have," says Kinsley, who concentrated in economics at the College.
Kinsley also brushes off being offered the position of managing editor of The New Republic before he even graduated from Harvard Law School (HLS), saying that "it was a much smaller operation back then."
Kinsley says he convinced HLS to allow him to finish his law degree at George Washington Law School so he could take on the job starting in January of his third year.
"The job of managing editor at The New Republic is essentially the same job that I did as an editor 10 years later," Kinsley says. "And the position of editor is largely an honorary one."
In his usual fashion, Kinsley sidesteps the role he played in the growth of the liberal magazine.
"I like to think that I had some influence on both the flavor of The New Republic and on its stature," Kinsley says. But he credits Martin H. Peretz, lecturer in social studies at Harvard and the current owner of The New Republic, as "the one who made it the influential magazine it is today. It was at a very low ebb when Marty bought it, and he has changed it greatly."
Kinsley credits The Crimson with teaching him the skills he has needed to get to the top. As the vice president of The Crimson, Kinsley says he spent most of his time at the newspaper.
"The guy was just phenomenal--just look at what he's accomplished since then," says Patrick R. Sorrento, The Crimson's production supervisor since 1967. "Everything he did, he did absolutely right. Whatever the assignment, he did it."
Despite being "the obvious star of his comp class," as Sorrento describes him, Kinsley was never elected president of The Crimson. Instead, Kinsley was named vice-president, the only one in the newspaper's history.