Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The top of their game is scraping the bottom of the barrel.

In this week''s New Yorker, David Packer uses Old Man Broder's love poem to Sarah Palin following the Tea Party speech ("a public figure at the top of her game") to skewer what passes for journalism among the almost useless Washington Press Corps:
Broder wasn’t analyzing Palin’s positions or accusations, or the truth or falsehood of her claims, or even the nature of the emotions that she appeals to. He was reviewing a performance and giving it the thumbs up, using the familiar terminology of political journalism. This has been so characteristic of the coverage of politics for so long that it doesn’t seem in the least bit odd, and it’s hard to imagine doing it any other way. A couple of weeks ago, the Times ran a piece by its lead political reporter, Adam Nagourney, about a Republican strategy session in Hawaii: “Here in Honolulu, the strains within the party over conservative principles versus political pragmatism played out in a sharp and public way, especially as the party establishment struggled to deal with the demands of the Tea Party movement.” The structure of the sentence, and of the article, puts the emphasis entirely on tactics and performance. This kind of prose goes down as easily and unnoticeably as a glass of sparkling water, with no aftertaste. Readers interested in politics drink quarts of it every day without gaining weight. And Broder and Nagourney are at the top of their game.
The best part of it is when he shows us how one of the villagers* would cover Hamid Karzai in Pakistan.
*The concept of Washington as an insular village in which the inhabitants, especially the press, write mostly for and about themselves and share the same conventional wisdom is an internet meme which provides an easy shortcut for sayin "the chattering class," "TV gasbags" and/or "pompous self-centered asses" all at once.

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