David Keene, a trusted adviser to presidents, a longtime champion of personal liberty and one of conservatism’s most respected voices, was appointed Sunday as the new opinion editor of The Washington Times.
Mr. Keene recently stepped down as president of the National Rifle Association after leading the group’s successful effort to block new restrictions on gun ownership and sales in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings.
The Times also announced that Editor Emeritus Wesley Pruden, who came out of retirement to reorganize the opinion pages in January, will remain in a full-time capacity, directing and producing editorials.
“David has been a tireless advocate for conservatism, demonstrating time and again how the movement’s values and ideas can address the problems of the day. He’s a deep intellectual with the sharp wit, unwavering values and the endless civility needed to guide the thought leadership of Washington’s most important opinion pages,” said Larry Beasley, the president and chief executive officer of The Washington Times.
“David will bring a unique flavor and style to our opinion pages that will mirror our mission to serve a growing conservative audience,” Mr. Beasley said.
Added John Solomon, the paper’s editor: “At a time when the conservative movement is struggling to apply its values to the challenges facing America, we are lucky to have a leader of David’s caliber, wisdom and experience shape our opinion strategy. He is perfectly suited to craft the fresh policy ideas our readers have come to expect from The Washington Times’ opinion pages and to use our print, Web, TV and radio products to inspire a new generation of conservatives to find their voice, embrace innovation and reach consensus.”
Mr. Keene will oversee the newspaper’s editorial page, commentary section and online opinion strategy. He inherits a department that includes some of Washington’s most-read columnists, including Emily Miller, Mr. Pruden, Sen. Rand Paul and Dr. Ben Carson, and routinely attracts guest op-eds from federal officials, members of Congress and global leaders.
Mr. Keene said Sunday that his goal will be to “continue to expand the reach of The Washington Times as the ‘go to’ publication for conservatives in Washington and around the country by giving readers access to solid, insightful and interesting conservative perspectives on public policy and politics that they can rely on.”
“Since its founding, The Washington Times has played a vital role as the conservative newspaper in Washington and one of the most widely quoted nationwide,” Mr. Keene added. “Presidents, elected officials and policymakers have relied on The Times, and our challenge is to expand our reach in new media and in this political era to provide a reliable, readable resource for conservatives and others across the country.”
In addition to his new role overseeing and writing editorials, Mr. Pruden also will continue to write his twice-weekly column, which has run in The Times for three decades.
“Wes has helped rebuild our opinion department, restocking our writing talents with the likes of Rand Paul and Ben Carson while rebuilding a consistent, cogent opinion voice for the newspaper. We’re thrilled Wes is staying aboard to help David and to keep his popular column bristling with wit,” Mr. Solomon said.
Mr. Keene’s selection was hailed Sunday across the conservative world.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called Mr. Keene “a major voice defining conservatism in America for the last generation.” Former U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton called Mr. Keene’s appointment a “great coup for The Times. No one knows Washington better than Dave.”
Conservative commentator Tucker Carlson, editor of The Daily Caller, called Mr. Keene the perfect blend of intellectual and outdoorsman.
“Dave Keene is one of the smartest, most principled people I know. He’s also an accomplished fly fisherman and sportsman, which is not a small thing in an age when so few people in the policy world ever go outside,” Mr. Carlson said.