Blake Hounshell, ‘On Politics’ Editor at The Times, Dies at 44
Blake Hounshell, an influential political journalist who was managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine and a top editor at Politico before joining The New York Times and overseeing its popular newsletter “On Politics,” died on Tuesday in Washington. He was 44.
The police in Washington said they identified as Mr. Hounshell the body of a man who had apparently jumped from the Taft Memorial Bridge there; they were investigating the incident as a suicide, a police official said. His family said in a statement that Mr. Hounshell had died “after a long and courageous battle with depression.”
Mr. Hounshell, who joined The Times in 2021, wrote “On Politics” out of Washington, incorporating contributions from other Times correspondents. The newsletter appears five days a week and is regularly read by an estimated half-million paying subscribers.
Mr. Hounshell “quickly distinguished himself as our lead politics newsletter writer and a gifted observer of our country’s political scene,” Joseph Kahn, the Times’s executive editor, said in a memo to the staff, adding, “He became an indispensable and always insightful voice in the report during a busy election cycle.”
Mr. Hounshell’s last “On Politics” newsletter, focusing on the conundrum facing Gov. Gavin Newsom of California over the state’s capital punishment policies, was published on Monday. On Friday he wrote about the Republican Party’s difficulties in attracting young voters.
“For months before the 2022 midterm elections, Democrats fretted that younger voters might fall into old habits and stay home,” Mr. Hounshell wrote. “The analysis is still a little hazy, but as more data comes in, it looks as if enough young people showed up in many key states to play a decisive role.
“And now,” he added, “some Republicans are warning that their party’s poor standing with millennial and Gen-Z voters could become an existential threat. But there’s no consensus about how much, if at all, Republicans’ message needs to change.”
Born on Sept. 4, 1978, in California, Bernard Blakeman Hounshell was raised in Delaware and Pittsburgh. He graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2002. He began his journalism career after studying Arabic in Cairo.
In 2011, he was a finalist for the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists, given by the Wallace House Center for Journalists at the University of Michigan, for his reporting on the Arab Spring uprisings of the early 2010s.
In his time as managing editor of Foreign Policy, from 2009 to 2013, the magazine won three National Magazine Awards as he transformed the publication for the internet era.
At Politico, where he worked for eight years before joining The Times, he was digital editorial director, managing editor for Washington and political news, managing editor, and editor in chief of the website’s magazine, which he had initiated.
He had been launching, writing and editing newsletters and blogs for 15 years since 2006, when he joined Foreign Policy.
David Halbfinger, The Times’s politics editor, said on Tuesday that Mr. Hounshell was endowed with “the kind of wide-ranging intellect that made it possible for him to explain anything to anyone.”
He is survived by his wife, Sandy Choi, and two children, David and Astrid. He lived in northwest Washington.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.