Tom Shales Confirms He Will Leave Washington Post after 39 Years

Tom Shales, the Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize winning television writer, said that he will leave the paper on Dec. 31 when his contract expires.

Shales confirmed the news in an interview with yesterday, but had made mention of the decision in a dramatic September posting on the Facebook wall of Donald Graham, the chairman of the Washington Post. Co.

"Dec. 31, 2010 -- and you won't have me to kick around any more," he wrote. "I'm being handed my hat."

Shales said the Facebook posting was a way to send out a clear signal to his supporters. "I was feeling ignored, I guess, and I just wanted there to be some notice that I was headed for the last roundup," he said.

Shales took a buyout from the paper in 2006 and went on contract shortly after that. He said leaving the paper, his home since 1971, will be hard emotionally, and financially.

"It’s scary, damn scary," he said. "Plus I’m so heavily in debt and my house is underwater. Suddenly I'm a cross-section of the American public."

He admitted that the lump sum of the money from the buyout was mostly gone.

"I either frittered it on the stock market or ate it," he said.