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Pot Calls The Kettle Hack

alex-pareene-headshot

Alex Pareene’s annual hack list omits an obvious candidate: Alex Pareene.

At it is every year, his compilation of jibes, barbs, and insults at the media elite has been widely and appreciatively recirculated. It’s Pareene at his snarky, slightly mean spirited, best. But it’s the very definition of hack work.

Pareene doesn’t bother telling us what he means by “hack.” As described last year, though:

The Salon Hack List is a list of our least favorite political commentators, newspaper columnists, political news show hosts, and constant cable news presences, ranked roughly (but only roughly) in order of awfulness and then described rudely. Criteria for inclusion included being wrong about literally everything, shameless sycophancy, appearing on “Morning Joe” and being “Morning Joe.”

Aside from the “Morning Joe” thing, that’s a rather unhelpful definition; it essentially comes down to a list of media figures Alex Pareene doesn’t like. Which is, I suppose, a potentially interesting exercise if he actually explains why he doesn’t like them.

The more conventional definition of hack, though, is more along the lines of, “To produce (written material, for example), especially hastily or routinely.” Or, as I tend to think of it, producing material for the main purpose of generating pageviews and sales without regard to quality or intellectual honesty.

By both of those definitions, the Hack List—which is now no longer a list at all but a recurring series throughout the year—qualifies. Not only is it mostly snark without substance, using the time-honored tactic of calling out the biggest, most popular names to draw attention to a much lesser writer and publication but it’s now so tirelessly predictable as to be a joke. Indeed, the nature of the list changes every year (lifetime achievement award for a media personality, this year’s worst by a media personality, worst media entity) to disguise the fact that it’s essentially the same list being repackaged every year.

Looking at this year’s “list,” we see pretty much the same figures as last year’s, but this time based on the publication where they work rather than their name. Regardless, let’s look at the hackiest of the hacks.

Number 1: Politico.

I have written tens of thousands of words on what, precisely, is wrong with Politico. But I can put the case much more simply here: It’s Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei.

VandeHei is the co-founder of Politico, and Allen is the organization’s biggest star. Each morning Allen collects a bunch of links to day-old news stories and emails them to thousands of people, and for this he is paid a fortune. VandeHei is the guy who gives Politico its obnoxious, pseudo-macho ethos, with the shouty memos and nonsense about “metabolism.” Allen exemplifies the sort of political journalist who thinks his job is faithfully reporting what mendacious professional liars tell him, while also usually protecting their identities. VandeHei thinks neutrality requires occupying a space precisely between Breitbart and the Huffington Post. Neither would probably understand if you tried to explain to them that supporting whatever any CEO says or effectively endorsing Erskine Bowles for president is actually a violation of political “neutrality.”

There’s several more paragraphs like that but none of them actually tell us what’s wrong with Politico, Mike Allen, or Jim VandeHei. Maybe clicking through the links and reading all of those columns makes that more clear. But Pareene gets more than a dozen paragraphs in this very column and doesn’t bother telling us.

The fact that “thousands of people” are signed up to read “a bunch of links to day-old news stories” would seem prima facie evidence that Mike Allen has a talent for aggregating the most interesting news stories of the previous day for the sort of people who are interested in the news but can’t spend their entire day trolling the Internet or screening their Twitter feed. Which is to say, the sort of people who aren’t Alex Pareene. Except that even Alex Pareene admits to having “a soft spot for Playbook” which is “generally an efficient way to learn what Washington is talking about at the start of each day.”

VandeHei’s management style may be “nonsense,” “obnoxious,” or constitute a “pseudo-macho ethos” but it has thus far achieved its stated goal of “winning the morning.”  The paper is, by comparison with the competition, an upstart with a shoestring budget and a tiny staff and yet it’s running circles around them in breaking stories that win the morning–and the Internet. To be sure, they don’t do nearly as much long-form reporting as some of the more venerable entities. But they’re dominating the coverage of the political game, which is their niche and about which they make no bones.

And Allen nowhere argues we should do “whatever any CEO says.” He’s noting that, contrary to conventional wisdom, big business leaders are frustrated with Republicans just as much as with Democrats.

There are several more paragraphs to Pareene’s critique; they’re all less interesting.

Number 2: The Washington Post.

The Washington Post is the hometown paper of the city that everyone in America hates, usually for good reason. And the things Americans hate about that city and the people who work there are reflected in its pages.

The newspaper itself is an ever smaller and more starved-looking thing. The people running it used to actually compete with the New York Times, for readers and writers and national influence. Now they can’t really decide if they even want to try.

The Post can’t decide if it’s local or national, with editors and publishers offering a series of conflicting and contradictory statements of intent over the last decade. The paper closed its major national bureaus a few years ago, but it also fails to extensively cover local news. What it seems to think it should be is a newspaper dedicated to covering politics and the federal government. D.C. already has three or four of those, which would seem to suffice, but politics is the paper’s brand, and what brings national traffic to the website.

This really isn’t that hard: Like the New York Times, the Washington Post is both a national paper and a local paper. Both are famous for their coverage of national and international news and have audiences around the country and, indeed, the world. Both also cover local news for their vast local markets. In the case of the Post, the fact that their locality happens to be the nation’s capitol means there’s an overlap between those beats.

The Washington Post has the worst opinion section of any major newspaper in the country. It’s actually baffling to me how bad it is. It doesn’t seem that difficult to simply not publish a bunch of liars, hacks and incredibly boring old men, but the Post can’t seem to figure it out.

Okay, he’s on to something here and spends several paragraphs more-or-less backing this up. My main beef here is saving Jennifer Rubin for the end rather than leading with her. Pareene closes:

The Post opinion section exemplifies the most aggravating feature of the American punditocracy: that there are simply never any professional consequences for being constantly wrong or dishonest.

While exactly the sort of conventional wisdom that Pareene’s entire “hack list” is designed to skewer, it happens to be right.

Number 3: Newsweek 

One shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, I know. But if Newsweek has taught me anything this year, it’s that death is not truly the end, because Heaven Is Real, According to Science.

Yes, that was an actual, for-real Newsweek cover this year: “Heaven Is Real.” It was the dumbest, probably, but not actually the worst. This year’s Newsweek covers also included naked bondage lady, and sexy lady about to fellate asparagus (a stock image that had also quite recently been used in at least two other magazines). There was “what if Princess Di was alive and my friend,” too, but that was from 2011.

Now, Newsweek is ending its existence as a print publication. It’s not the official end of Newsweek as a brand — they seem to want people to believe that they expect rational adults to pay money to read something claiming to be a digital version of Newsweek online — but the mass layoffs signal that it’s basically done as a major publication of any sort.

[...]

Tina Brown’s Newsweek didn’t bore us, it just insulted us, loudly, each and every issue.

Brown, the legendary editor most famous for making the New Yorker print photographs sometimes, launched a website called the Daily Beast in 2008, with a bunch of money from famous rich person Barry Diller. Why anyone thought Brown, who does not understand the Internet, would be a good person to give a lot of money to to create a website, is well beyond me, but it is the sort of thing that makes sense if you are a rich person, I think. In 2010, other rich person Sidney Harmon bought Newsweek and then he and Diller decided to merge it with the Daily Beast and give it all to Tina Brown. At the time, Brown’s Daily Beast was losing Diller $10 million a year. Brown’s first move as the person in charge of Newsweek — an early example of the sort of brilliant decision-making that would define her tenure as person in charge of Newsweek — was to kill Newsweek.com and put all its content on TheDailyBeast.com, despite the fact that Newsweek.com had more than twice the traffic, not to mention 80 years’ worth of brand recognition.

You hire Tina Brown because she knows “everyone,” and knowing “everyone” translates into “buzz,” which never quite translates into “profit” or “increased circulation.” In Tina Brown’s Newsweek, friends fawningly profiled their famous friends, who were also friends of Tina’s. Other friends were allowed to write stories so incredibly misleading that other outlets took it upon themselves to perform basic fact-checks. Then that friend’s wife trolled every Muslim in the world.

Here, Pareene simply shoots fish in a barrel. Everyone knows that Newsweek went the hack route as a desperate measure to save itself, only to seal its fate.

Number 4: The Sunday Shows

Every Sunday morning, the big four broadcast networks all air their FCC-mandated “public affairs” programming, which consists of a host (a white guy) interviewing the same dozen lawmakers, journalists and pundits in a rotating order. The lawmakers are usually not the most powerful members of Congress — often they’re somewhat marginal figures in terms of influence, in fact — and the pundits and journalists all generally share the same, or very similar, worldviews. The only people I actually know who watch these things do so out of professional obligation.

But people watch these shows. Millions of people. More people watch “Meet the Press” than “The Daily Show.” Most of those people are quite old, but it’s still the case that a significant portion of the American people are learning the contours of the great public debates of our time from David Gregory interviewing Lindsey Graham.

FAIR is the organization that has most recently sorted and tallied the Sunday show guests, and yet again, the shows skew white and conservative. FAIR looked at the guest lists for ABC’s “This Week,” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” CBS’ “Face the Nation, and “Fox News Sunday” from June 2011 through February 2012. They found:

Of one-on-one interviews, 70 percent of partisan-affiliated guests were Republican. Those guests were overwhelmingly male (86 percent) and white (92 percent).

The broader roundtable segments weren’t much more diverse: 62 percent of partisan-affiliated guests were Republican. More broadly, guests classified as either Republican or conservative far outnumbered Democrats or progressives, 282 to 164. The roundtables were 71 percent male and 85 percent white.

U.S. government sources — current officials, former lawmakers, political candidates, party-affiliated political operatives and campaign advisers — dominated the Sunday shows overall (47 percent of appearances). Following closely behind were journalists (43 percent), most of whom were middle-of-the-road Beltway political reporters.

Media Matters tallied the guest lists in 2005 and 2006 and came up with very similar results.There are never labor leaders, scientists, academics, activists or public policy experts on these shows, ever. There are scarcely any women or people of color. The Sunday shows are broadcast live from the cocoon.

To merely note that they’re right-leaning, though, doesn’t quite do them justice. They embrace an ideological spectrum that goes from Mary Matalin to James Carville, but the panels are dominated by David Brookses and Tom Friedmans and Bob Woodwards, all spouting the same faux-”moderate” Beltway consensus bullshit. They lean right because the elite Washington consensus is that America leans right. But they worship moderation, baby-splitting, and shallow displays of bipartisanship above all else. Imagine David Gergen and Peggy Noonan agreeing with each other about Simpson-Bowles, forever.

This rounds up a bunch of familiar critiques with the format. But how does this constitute hackery, exactly? They’re giving the audiences they show they came to see: A bunch of familiar policymakers and media types talking about the important issues of the week. They skew old, white, and male because the Washington power brokers are old, white, and male. They have the same people on week after week because those people are willing to put on a tie early on a Sunday morning and come talk on TV.

The administration—any administration—limits their access to officials and, frankly, outside of a handful of key players, nobody knows who they are or cares what they have to say. Ditto most members of the House. Meanwhile, there are a handful of Senators who live to go on television and are willing to be cantankerous or otherwise deliver some quotable sound bytes that will get the print media buzzing about the show.

That “There are never labor leaders, scientists, academics, activists or public policy experts on these shows, ever” is factually untrue but there’s more than a kernel of truth there. But these shows are about Washington politics, mostly in bite-sized nuggets. Having eggheads come on to try to explain why the conventional wisdom is wrong doesn’t fit the format.

And make no mistake: Breaking the format doesn’t work. See Amanpour, Christiane.

I don’t find the discussions of the other “winners,” The Drudge Report, CNN, or Huffington Post particularly interesting; they are what they are. So, let me skip ahead to two that caught my eye.

Number 8: MSNBC 

MSNBC, we’re told all the time, is the liberal Fox News. That’s reductive and stupid. It isn’t. MSNBC isn’t the liberal Fox News for two very important reasons: It usually demonstrates a greater respect for the truth than Fox News, and it’s not as good as Fox News. It’s not as good at being liberal as Fox is at being conservative. Fox is rigidly ideologically consistent, with its “straight news” programs echoing the same talking points and pushing the same slanted stories as its opinion shows. While there’s no doubt that MSNBC is more unapologetically liberal than it used to be, it’s still all over the place, with a conservative anchoring its flagship morning show, objective Beltway “straight news” proponents like Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell dominating in the daytime, and weekends full of … prison shows. But more important, it’s not as good as Fox at being compelling TV, which is why millions more people watch Fox every day. (There are demographic reasons for Fox’s advantage, too, but it’s still a huge number.)

There’s a reason Ed Schultz — the most Fox-like of MSNBC’s liberal hosts — has great ratings. That’s also what makes it so funny that MSNBC is supposedly planning on replacing him with Ezra Klein, which is like Fox deciding to replace Sean Hannity with Ross Douthat. Good for respectability. Bad for ratings.

Here, oddly, he seems to be criticizing MSNBC for not being hackish enough.

I’ll give MSNBC its due: Chris Matthews is probably the worst interviewer on television but he is also undoubtedly one of its most fascinating and watchable personalities. Rachel Maddow is obviously and deservedly a national treasure. MSNBC’s new weekend morning programs, hosted by Chris Hayes and Melissa Harris-Perry, seem like a novel experiment in attempting to produce genuinely intelligent television using the medium of cable news and its popular tropes. “The Cycle” is exactly 25 percent great.

Okay, but so far no hackishness. That explains why it’s not higher on the list, I guess, but not why it’s on it.  It turns out, MSNBC is on the list because of Pareene’s annual hatred of a certain morning show.

And there’s “Morning Joe.”

“Morning Joe” is the world’s most self-satisfied television program. It is a place where Harold Ford Jr. is treated as a person whose insights and opinions are worthy of being taken seriously. It’s a show with so little respect for its viewers that Mark Halperin is asked on to explain politics every day.

“Morning Joe” is very sure that it is fun and outrageous, instead of depressing. They joke, or “joke,” about how they are all drinking alcohol at work, on TV! They banter! Sometimes someone swears!

Scarborough’s wacky morning show cocktail party — are they or aren’t they spiking their coffee, is a question they are all really hoping anyone is asking — isn’t just an endless parade of conventional wisdom-spouting morons feebly discussing the day’s political news. It’s also cable TV’s most reliably sexist program, with Scarborough finding it endlessly amusing to interrupt and belittle his supposed co-host, Mika Brzezinski. As most successful sexists do, Scarborough dismisses criticisms of his constant unambiguously sexist remarks by saying that they’re just a joke that you’re too p.c. to get, like in this “hilarious” promo, in which Brzezinski is very professional, and Joe and the other guy do cool, edgy guy stuff like get drunk and do drugs and stuff. (Joe Scarborough is such a cool guy, guys. He enjoys drinking alcohol! He even played in a band once.)

The joke is less funny when you learn that Brzezinski was making 14 times less than Scarborough, until she learned of the disparity and nearly left the channel over it. Now she makes half what he makes. (Which is maybe a reflection of the fact that she seems to get roughly half as much time to talk as Scarborough does on your average edition of “Morning Joe.”)

The problem with all this is that it’s all sneer, zero analysis.  He leads with eye-rolling at the fact that Harold Ford, Jr. and Mark Halperin are frequent guests with no explanation whatsoever as to why that’s a bad thing. We’re just supposed to know, apparently. But both have reasonably solid credentials. Ford is a former congressman and chair of the Democratic Leadership Council who’s currently, among other things, a visiting professor at NYU. Halperin is Time’s senior political analyst and a former political director at ABC.

Is the show’s jocularity and digression from the discussion of serious news sometimes annoying? It is. But it’s a morning show. Contrast “Morning Joe” with the insipid “Today” or “Good Morning America” — much less the IQ lowering “Fox and Friends” — and it’s a veritable graduate seminar.

As to the oft-discussed salary disparity between Joe and Mika, it’s neither an indicator of hackishness nor surprising. The show is, after all, called “Morning Joe.” I’m guessing Don Imus and Howard Stern make considerably more than their co-hosts, too.

This criticism is more interesting, if rather disjointed:

But fratty misogyny is only one of “Morning Joe’s” recurring gags. There’s also Joe’s titanic self-regard, best exemplified by his apparent belief that he and Michael Bloomberg would have made a successful presidential ticket. Scarborough, a moderate conservative television personality, still believes himself to be a Real Man Of The People sort of guy. But the ideology of “Morning Joe” is the ideology of the elite center, a group of people who hold opinions that are deeply unpopular on both ends of the political spectrum and who have convinced themselves that they represent a secret majority of Americans. (Or at least “Real” or “Regular” Americans.) Hence, Harold Ford. These are people who believe not only that cutting the most popular government program in the nation is a “moderate” and sensible idea, but that there is a popular “mandate” for said cut, because millions of voters selected one candidate who promised not to cut Medicare benefits over another candidate who supported cutting Medicare but also scored political points by accusing his opponent of already having cut Medicare benefits.

This isn’t hackishness; it’s a lack of self-awareness. Scarborough still sees himself as the guy who went to Congress in 1994. But two decades of fame, money, and power—and, perhaps more importantly, being surrounded by people with fame, money, and power—simply changes a man. There’s a reason there’s an elite center: elites are surrounded by other elites, read the same things, and tend to come to the same conclusions. But the thing is those conclusions are often right! Being exposed to smart, well-read people with a passion for ideas means constantly having your core assumptions challenged. The resulting consensus might be tedious and unsaleable to the masses but it’s generally the opposite of hackishness.

Number 9: The Atlantic 

Magazines are great. I am a big fan of magazines. The Atlantic does a lot of things right, as a magazine. First of all, it makes money. Most magazines don’t, really. I also give them credit for “figuring out The Web.” Here is the secret of The Web: People like to read thoughtful people writing about and debating the issues of the day, and also they like really infuriating trolling. The Atlantic gives them both.

Here are some pieces from the latest issue: Jeffrey Goldberg on why more guns will solve gun control (counterintuitive!), Jessica Bennett and Rachel Simmons on how writing “xoxo” in emails is “feminizing the workplace,” something on wacky Silicon Valley workspaces and offices. This is a fairly representative sample of the sort of thing in your average issue of the Atlantic.

In November, Michael Bloomberg was on the cover of the “Brave Thinkers” issue. (He is so brave, to have largely the exact same opinions as every magazine editor.) October was mostly dedicated to education reform. April brought us a tribute to underappreciated hero of the global economy Ben Bernanke. I’m not even picking from the women-baiting covers, here. We’ll get to those.

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve written a dozen or so pieces for The Atlantic. They’ve even paid more for a few of them. But it’s hard to see the hackishness in this critique: they have a wide variety of stories by a wide variety of people with no discernible political agenda.

That Bloomberg is an exemplar of the elite consensus discussed earlier and that he shares it with magazine editors is a true fact. But he was touted as “brave” for having the courage to issue wildly unpopular regulations in order to do what he thought right for the city. (I prefer “arrogant” and “dictatorial,” but it’s brave, too.) What’s hackish about education reform? Or posting a counterintuitive feature on Bernanke?

The women-baiting covers include Anne-Marie Slaughter on “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” (in “The Ideas Issue”!), Kate Bolick on why the ladies today refuse to get married (in “The Brave Thinkers Issue”!) and, of course, Hanna Rosin on “The End of Men.” (In another “Ideas Issue.”) Oddly, the magazine’s anti-feminist feminist troll in residence, Caitlin Flanagan, hasn’t had a big trolly cover piece, but she is waiting for you in just about every issue. The magazine recently started a blog dedicated entirely to reductive and controversy-sparking arguments about modern womanness, in case you can’t wait for your monthly fix.

Who is this magazine for? Unmarried professional women who work in tech and worry about China, I guess? It is edited and published, though, by men of Washington, D.C. Publisher David Bradley spent hundreds of hours interviewing journalists across the country for the position of editor of the Atlantic, before deciding on St. Albans alum and New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief James Bennet. (Bradley was also the man who moved the Atlantic from Boston to Washington, after promising he wouldn’t.)

Bradley and Bennet are both products of America’s grandest joke, the Ivy League meritocracy. Bradley’s dad was a spook and a P.R. pioneer. Bennet’s brother is a United States senator. They’re conscientious men with good intentions and all the right opinions. They’re so predictable and boring. You can practically schedule a year’s worth of Atlantic covers in advance: the China one, the women’s shit one, the Israel one, the biannual tributes to Rich People Who Will Save America.

So, the critique here is that the people who run The Atlantic are rich white guys. Unlike, say, Salon. Oh, and they also devote a lot of coverage to women’s issues.

Apparently, though, what really sets Pareene off has nothing to do with the magazine or its website.

The problem is that “The Atlantic: The Magazine” is just a loss-leader for “The Atlantic: The Brand.” The magazine exists to lend credibility and a slightly respectable sheen to the events. The Ideas Festival and the Ideas Forum and the Ideas Conference. The Small Business Forums and “Innovation Summit” and “The Atlantic’s third annual Food Summit.” These are not exactly 92nd Street Y panels. These are synergistic opportunities for industry leaders to meet thought leaders, for a paying audience of their peers. The Food Summit, for example, featured a number of Atlantic editors and contributors roped into friendly livestreamed chats with the CEO of the National Pork Board, the “Regional Business Head” of the Gerber Products Co., and Mario Batali. (Supporting underwriters: DuPont, Coca-Cola, Dole, Nestle, etc.)

The point of all this is leveraging independent commentary and journalism into yet another marketing opportunity and influence-peddling scheme for corporations, lobbyists, investors and people otherwise seeking to turn bullshit into gold. After years of putting on the Aspen Ideas Festival, the best Idea to come from the festival remains “throw a massive self-congratulatory circle jerk at a super-elite venue every year for CEOs to mingle with famous Washington hacks and vacuous would-be Gladwells.”

I’ve never been to one of these things, although I do get invited with some regularity. But it’s not clear what the big deal is supposed to be. The magazine has a few conferences a year in which its writers and editors mingle with the rich and successful. How is that any more problematic than, say, selling advertising space? Is there evidence that this is somehow skewing the magazine’s coverage? Or are we supposed to be mad that the Atlantic’s writers don’t harbor the same disgust at the very notion of CEOs as Pareene?

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    James:

    I agree with about 70% of what he had to say, and 90% of your critique of same.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  2. cd6 says:

    VandeHei’s management style may be “nonsense,” “obnoxious,” or constitute a “pseudo-macho ethos” but it has thus far achieved its stated goal of “winning the morning.”

    You’re right, they’ve done well in achieving their goal of winning the morning

    But it’s an incredibly stupid & dishonest goal. It doesn’t inform readers, and many would argue, it actually sets back the national discourse. Instead of doing actual investigative reporting and telling new things to their readers, we get BS like Politico calling up Jamie Dimon, who was at the heart of the financial meltdown, and getting advice like “cut corporate tax rates.” Sweet Jesus. If you’ve got Jamie Dimon on the phone, a much better question is “explain the moral argument for why you shouldn’t be in jail?”

    I much prefer Pareene’s style to the “both sides do it” hogwash that infects the rest of our opinion journalism.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 0

  3. Blue Shark says:

    Dear James…

    Wow that is quite a lengthy review. And a pretty fair center-right take on the article.

    …Problem is, that you, as a center right kind of white, upper-middle class, republican kinda older guy are wired the same way almost all of the targets in Pareene’s list are … so, you don’t have the outside perspective of the rest of America that doesn’t neatly squat in that WASP territory.

    …The list complied by Pareene is acutely (hackurately) accurate. The lack of consequences for the pundits who are always so obnoxiously wrong about just about everything is paramount in ensuring that the reign of mediocrity just continues to roll along and the dumbing down of America continues.

    …It seems that your entire argument is that the inclusion of the listees on this particular list is insufficiently described in terms of why they are “Hacks”. Not that they are NOT indeed today’s modern media hacks.

    …If you truly lived outside-the-beltway, you wouldn’t have to ask what is wrong with this list. The rest of America is not hard-wired republican the way Washington is.

    …We are a center-left country, all beltway analysis to the contrary.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 4

  4. Andre Kenji says:

    A few points:

    1-) I have some problems with Politico: there is too much gossip and too much speculation about things that MIGHT happen and sometimes they seem to have too much information and too little deepness.

    Besides that, as most political magazines their targeted readership seems to be lobbyists and political consultants. ;-)

    2-) I see some problems with Sunday Shows: There is no reason that Carly Fiorina(That was a disaster as CEO of HP) can go to MTP to talk about the economy, but we can´t see Dave Weigel or Ezra Klein on the same show. George Will became a regular at the This Week roundtable at age 39, it´s hard to find someone as young as he was in most Sunday Shows.

    On the other hand, one can complain that David Gregory and Bob Schieffer are not tough enough. But they are better than the sycophancy of many cable news shows.

    3-) Morning Joe lost most of it´s fun when their director departed to CBS and when Pat Buchanan left.

    4-) You can say anything you want about the WP, but hiring Ezra Klein and giving him a bunch of reporters to do the Wonkblog compensates Krauthammer and Rubin.

    5-) The Atlantic´s articles about women are a little bit tiring, sometimes. Hanna Rosin´s idea of “end of men” is a pretty elitist idea, that only makes sense to a tiny elite in New York(I might be writing like the Tsar).

    6-) Yes, I thought the same thing about Pareene.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Andre Kenji says:

    @cd6:

    The big problem for Pareene is that Salon also publishes a lot of articles about sex and gender, trying to get some pageviews, In 2010, the published this this:

    http://www.salon.com/2010/08/05/men_size_matters/

    That´s far worse hackery than anything on Politico or in Washington Post.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  6. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Blue Shark:

    …The list complied by Pareene is acutely (hackurately) accurate. The lack of consequences for the pundits who are always so obnoxiously wrong about just about everything is paramount in ensuring that the reign of mediocrity just continues to roll along and the dumbing down of America continues.

    I’d have to agree. 95% is on the money. I watch the evening newscasts and occasionally a sunday talk show and the standard of analysis is painful….. it’s painful. Some of the economic stuff is so superficial at to defy belief.Some of the talk shows idea of balance is Will, Tapper, Holtz Eakin and Krugman.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  7. cd6 says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    I’m certainly not going to disagree that Salon also publishes garbage. But Salon doesn’t also “drive the conversation” so their potential for damage done to America is far less.

    Letting John McCain come on the Sunday shows and grump about what somebody else said on the Sunday shows (a) wastes time that could be better spent informing viewers on things that actually matter and (b) successfully convinces some people who actually take Sunday shows seriously (because sadly, there are some) that we’ve got some sort of “scandal” on our hands, or that anything McCain says these days has merit.

    In an intelligent, well functioning democracy, they’d invite McCain on once, explain why he’s wrong, and then never invite him on again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  8. wr says:

    I remember when, during the Occupy days, This Week actually had one of the movement’s leaders on. In a response to something George Will said, the activist pointed out that he was probably the only person on that show or any morning show whose net worth wasn’t in the millions. There was a lot of nervous throat clearing and the subject was changed very quickly — and the activist and anyone who shared that outrageous point of view have never been seen again.

    The point of the hack list, Dr. J., is to point out how the only point of view allowed in our elite political media is that of the wealthy, educated, Republican white male. For one of that elite to respond “I don’t see anything wrong with this being the view expressed — isn’t it what everyone thinks?” is kind of making his point for him.

    That said, since the targets of the list don’t really change much from year to year, the column does begin to feel kind of stale. There are only so many taxi driver jokes you can make about Thomas Friedman…

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  9. Andre Kenji says:

    @cd6: John McCain and Lindsey Graham appears a lot in the Sunday Talk Shows because most Legislators don´t want to go to these shows. They don´t help you to raise money and they are something risky. You can get plenty of airtime going to friendier environments, lilke the View, David Letterman and cable news.

    That´s why Sarah Palin didn´t go to these shows, and that´s why Harry Reid and other powerful Senate leaders doesn´t go (Patrick Leahy and Jeff Sessions did a terrible appearance during a MTP interview, they never went to these shows ever again). That´s why Obama refused to go to the Sunday Talk Shows and went to David Letterman and The View, that are risk free. I have more respect for Santorum and Gingrich than I have for Mitt Romney precisely because of that.

    I´d prefer to see politicians going to MTP instead of going to Hannity or The View.

    Besides that, the problem of Salon is that they only publishes opinion that´s highly dependent from reporting from other parties. It´s easy to criticize magazines and newspapers that have to invest money on things like reporting and covering the news. Pareene should take a look at the mirror.

    Specially considering that he writes for a site that publishes articles dealing with penis sizes.

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  10. Ben Wolf says:

    There’s a reason there’s an elite center: elites are surrounded by other elites, read the same things, and tend to come to the same conclusions. But the thing is those conclusions are often right! Being exposed to smart, well-read people with a passion for ideas means constantly having your core assumptions challenged.

    Come again?

    What is Joe Scarborough right about at a greater rate than the average American? Not to mention the second sentence quoted above implies “smart, well-read people” are rare outside the “elite center”.

    This is a very authoritarian mindset, that proximity to power and influence correlate to intelligence and literacy.

    Being exposed to smart, well-read people with a passion for ideas means constantly having your core assumptions challenged.

    What exactly gets challenged in Washington media? Where are these mental ubermensch engaging in a battle of ideas, and where can I see them?

    No matter the format, no matter the setting, we get the same homogenized opinions: not because those opinions result from intellectual giants nobly pursuing the Supreme Truth, no matter where it lay, but because certain opinions are necessary for a successful career.

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  11. SKI says:

    There’s several more paragraphs like that but none of them actually tell us what’s wrong with Politico, Mike Allen, or Jim VandeHei.

    Actually, you quoted the explanation for what is wrong with Allen and VabdeHei immediately preceding your plaint that he didn’t explain: “Allen exemplifies the sort of political journalist who thinks his job is faithfully reporting what mendacious professional liars tell him, while also usually protecting their identities. VandeHei thinks neutrality requires occupying a space precisely between Breitbart and the Huffington Post.

    Stenography isn’t journalism.

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  12. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    There’s a reason there’s an elite center: elites are surrounded by other elites, read the same things, and tend to come to the same conclusions. But the thing is those conclusions are often right! Being exposed to smart, well-read people with a passion for ideas means constantly having your core assumptions challenged.

    I have to say I laughed when I read this. Their conclusions are often right? You mean like right about the wisdom of invading Iraq and Afghanistan. Right about Dubya being a potentially great president after 9/11. Right about the Goldilocks economy in 2007. Right about Hillary winning the nomination in 2008. Right about the omniscience of Alan Greenspan. Right about Obama having little chance of re-election. Right about the US experiencing a double dip recession. Right about the imminent disappearance of the Euro. Right about US t bill yields going through the roof. Right about Ryan being a very serious person. I could go on endlessly. These people are almost ALWAYS wrong. Only an inside the beltway dweller like JJ would possibly think otherwise.

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  13. Lit3Bolt says:

    If you don’t understand why any of these entities are on a hack list, then you have no business declaring Alex Pareene to be a hack.

    The old wealthy white male privileged sense of entitlement oozes through.

    And this paragraph:

    This isn’t hackishness; it’s a lack of self-awareness. Scarborough still sees himself as the guy who went to Congress in 1994. But two decades of fame, money, and power—and, perhaps more importantly, being surrounded by people with fame, money, and power—simply changes a man. There’s a reason there’s an elite center: elites are surrounded by other elites, read the same things, and tend to come to the same conclusions. But the thing is those conclusions are often right! Being exposed to smart, well-read people with a passion for ideas means constantly having your core assumptions challenged. The resulting consensus might be tedious and unsaleable to the masses but it’s generally the opposite of hackishness.

    is simply hilarious. You might want to read it again and note how many times you refuted or contradicted yourself, and how many tautological assumptions are in there. I mean, that’s sad. But maybe it’s a lack of self-awareness.

    And if you consider Harold Ford, Jr and Mark Halperin and Joe Scarbourough to be elites, then you should simply remove your suit and tie and put on your 18th century French courtiers’ outfit, because that’s exactly how you’re acting. But I’m sure kissing the pinky ring comes naturally after a few years in DC.

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  14. Spartacus says:

    James wrote:

    But the thing is [the elites'] conclusions are often right! Being exposed to smart, well-read people with a passion for ideas means constantly having your core assumptions challenged.

    But this isn’t happening at all, and that’s what Pareene is complaining about.

    None of these people are having their assumptions challenged. When was the last time Joe Scarborough, David Brooks, Tom Friedman, David Gergen or Peggy Noonan were called out for their utter B.S.? When was the last time a single one of them suffered any meaningful consequence for being completely dead wrong about a significant issue? It simply does not happen. These people are accorded the presumption of being right and no one who aggressively challenges them is going to be invited on to their little TV shows.

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  15. Spartacus says:

    And by the way, if you weren’t so clueless you would be ashamed for having written this:

    They have the same people on week after week because those people are willing to put on a tie early on a Sunday morning and come talk on TV.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  16. Davebo says:

    @Spartacus:

    James isn’t clueless at all. He’s an extremely intelligent member of the class being called out.

    And that mortgage has to be paid after all.

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  17. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Davebo:

    And that mortgage has to be paid after all.

    Precisely……not that I’m entirely innocent of the imperatives at play.

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  18. James Joyner says:

    @Blue Shark: It’s rather bizarre to argue that most of the pundits and organizations on the list are Republican. Nor would that constitute hackery. The reason I expect him to explain why these people are hacks is that it’s the stated purpose of the article.

    @Brummagem Joe: “Some of the talk shows idea of balance is Will, Tapper, Holtz Eakin and Krugman” – while that’s certainly a very mainstream, elitist list it’s certainly an ideologically balanced one.

    @wr: If the point of the series is to spotlight “how the only point of view allowed in our elite political media is that of the wealthy, educated, Republican white male” then he does himself a disservice with the “hack” label. There’s nothing at all wrong with being those things nor does a confluence of those views constitute hackery. What it is, though, is an echo chamber.

    @Ben Wolf: I’m not arguing that Scarborough and the like are infallible. Rather, I’m arguing that, because they interact with a lot of smart people with divergent views, the rough edges of their ideologies get worn off. Most conservative Republicans get their views of liberals from Rush Limbaugh and Fox News rather than from, say, Joe Trippi, Harold Ford, Jr., or even Mika Brzezinski. It becomes harder to demonize and caricature when you’re in that company.

    @Lit3Bolt: See my response to Ben Wolf above. And of course they’re elites. Not necessarily the world’s most brilliant minds but they’re bright, educated, informed, connected, wealthy, and powerful. They’re elites.

    @Spartacus: They’re constantly challenged. Is there “consequence” to being wrong? No. I agreed with Pareene on that front in the post, indeed noting that it’s conventional wisdom.

    @Davebo: @Brummagem Joe: You’re engaging in Pareene-level analysis here. First off, Pareene is closer to being of the class in question than I am. He’s been writing for major publications since his early 20s and is surely more connected to the class in question than I am. Second, to the extent that I have an interest in the reputations of more famous public intellectuals, it’s the same as Pareene’s: knocking them down a peg.

    Like @michael reynolds above, I agree with a substantial percentage of Pareene’s criticism of punditry as a racket. But the merit of his points is overshadowed by the silliness of his attacks. To criticize Politico for being exactly what it purports to be, or holding Morning Joe to the standard of Charlie Rose is simply stupid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 15

  19. Brummagem Joe says:

    @James Joyner:

    “Some of the talk shows idea of balance is Will, Tapper, Holtz Eakin and Krugman” – while that’s certainly a very mainstream, elitist list it’s certainly an ideologically balanced one.

    Will and Holtz Eakin are doctrinaire Republicans, god knows what Tapper is but he’s certainly not a doctrinaire Democrat, and Krugman is a doctrinaire Democrat……….That you think this list ideologically balanced JJ say’s more about your sense of reality than I ever could.

    He’s been writing for major publications since his early 20s and is surely more connected to the class in question than I am.

    JJ…..are you serious?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  20. Brummagem Joe says:

    @James Joyner:

    Btw JJ it hasn’t escaped my notice that you steered well clear of the massive catalog of wrongness by the pundit class you think have been so consistently right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  21. Douglas Moran says:

    Joyner: ‘Pareene doesn’t bother telling us what he means by “hack.”’ And then he quotes a Pareene definition wherein Pareene writes, “Criteria for inclusion included being wrong about literally everything, shameless sycophancy . . .” That seems pretty clear. Where’s the confusing part?

    C’mon, James; that pretty much covers it. Almost every single entry on the list falls into one or both of those categories. (Rubin is the textbook definition of both, for example.) And in many of his other columns Pareene–much like digby, or Paul Krugman, or other media critics on the left–has made clear his distaste for and disgust of the “false equivalence” thinking that holds true for so much of the mainstream media. And I think most of the entries on his list that don’t fall into the “always wrong” or “sycophantic” category fall into that one.

    And then, ignoring the definition he just quoted, Joyner quotes his own definition, and measures Pareene’s list against that. If that’s not the textbook definition of a straw-man argument, I don’t know what is.

    Then Joyner writes, with regard to Politico’s hackery: “Maybe clicking through the links and reading all of those columns makes that more clear.” Well duh; why do you think he included the links, James? He’s not requiring you to do a Lexis/Nexis search, or get ink all over your fingers digging through dead newspaper archives; all you have to do is click on a link. But you don’t, and then take him to task for your own laziness and self-imposed lack of information. That’s just lame. Click the links! Jeez, it isn’t that hard!

    I could go through each of Joyner’s complaints, but they all pretty much fall into the same pattern. Besides, it would be boring for everyone here, and I’m just a letter writer.

    I’d like to invite Joyner to go back, re-read Pareene’s list, measure it agains the “sycophancy and constantly-wrong” yardstick, and then critique it. That might prove to be an interesting post. But this? Not so much.

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  22. Douglas Moran says:

    BTW, you set up a double-bind for Pareene. You write, “Alex Pareene’s annual hack list omits an obvious candidate: Alex Pareene.” So Pareene has two choices: Leave himself off the list, and be accused of a lack of self-awareness, or include himself and be accused of being too clever (or trying to inoculate himself, or some other easy accusation). Lose/Lose.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  23. Crusty Dem says:

    @James Joyner:

    @Ben Wolf: I’m not arguing that Scarborough and the like are infallible. Rather, I’m arguing that, because they interact with a lot of smart people with divergent views, the rough edges of their ideologies get worn off.

    You can certainly argue that, but there’s a plethora of data demonstrating the foolishness of this statement, as Brum Joe has catalogued above. The problem being that if the challenges are predictable and the data used is selected carefully, the conclusions arrived at will be whatever the elite thinker wishes them to be. My God, you live in the beltway and DON’T realize that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  24. Spartacus says:

    @James Joyner:

    They’re constantly challenged.

    We obviously have different ideas of what it means to be challenged. Anyone interested in hearing a full-throttled debunking of Washington’s CW would be much better served by just reading the comments on OTB or The Daily Dish. None of the elites on these Sunday shows are challenged with nearly the same kind of cutting facts and sharp analysis as you or Doug are by the commenters on OTB. The same thing is true of the commenters on David Frum’s site.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  25. James Joyner says:

    @Brummagem Joe: I occasionally watch the roundtable on “This Week,” which I find reasonably balanced. The show host is a former Clinton staffer, Will is generally balanced with Krugman, and then there’s a rotating bunch of politicians or insiders. It’s certainly not a Republican fest.

    And, yes, neither my background nor my current station put my into the same category as the up-from-privilege, Ivy educated, million dollar salary class of the pundits being criticized.

    @Brummagem Joe: I agreed with Pareene on, for example, the WaPo columnists. The discussion here is about the sort of “conventional wisdom” displayed on “Morning Joe.” It rejects the hard left and the hard right but has, over the last year or so (the span I’ve been watching the show with some regularity) been much harder on the Republican Party than the Democrats.

    @Douglas Moran: I’m quoting a definition from the 2011 list but point out that he’s not defining “hack” at all. So, I proceed to do so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  26. Andre Kenji says:

    @Douglas Moran:

    So Pareene has two choices: Leave himself off the list, and be accused of a lack of self-awareness, or include himself and be accused of being too clever (or trying to inoculate himself, or some other easy accusation).

    No, the big problem is that it´s hard to point out the finger at other people accusing them of hackery when you work for Salon. Salon even published an article defending Obama´s drones:

    http://www.salon.com/2012/03/16/in_defense_of_obamas_drones/

    Besides that, it´s not like Pareene is writing great political writing when he is not writing these lists. One of Pareene´s biggest beef against the so called “media elites” is when someone says that entitlement programs are unsustainable. Look, *only* Medicare accounts for something like 3,6% of the GDP now. That´s insane(and that´s in part because it´s pretty easy to defraud Medicare and because there are plenty of for profit hospital).

    So, to Pareene we can keep growing Medicare spending until it´s 10% or more of the GDP, obviously.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  27. Rafter JandersThewildgoose says:

    @James Joyner:

    James, between Will, Tapper, Holtz Eakins and Krugman, name the leftist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  28. Rafter JandersThewildgoose says:

    @James Joyner:

    Re your point that Will is balanced by Krugman: Krugman is a professional academic who uses facts and figures, while Will is a professional propagandist who routinely lies and makes up facts and figures. If that’s your idea of balance…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  29. James Joyner says:

    @Rafter JandersThewildgoose: “James, between Will, Tapper, Holtz Eakins and Krugman, name the leftist.” Krugman. And possibly Tapper. Plus, Stephanopoulos as host.

    @Rafter JandersThewildgoose: Will is a Rhodes Scholar, Princeton PhD, and Pulitizer Prize winner who’s frequently critical of the GOP. I’ll grant that his shtick is tired and that he’s seemingly unmoved by evidence on a couple of issues (global warming the most prominent). But he’s an ideological and intellectual counterweight to Krugman.

    Beyond that, the subtext of my defense of these shows is that Pareene is criticizing them for not being something that nobody would watch. I personally would prefer something more akin to the old Firing Line debate program. That’s not what people want on the Sunday chit-chat shows.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  30. Rafter JandersThewildgoose says:

    @James Joyner:

    Krugman and Stephanopoulos are leftists??? The fact that you consider them so tells us quite a bit about your complete inability to understand Pareene’s critique.

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  31. Douglas Moran says:

    @James, that’s a pretty weak defense. Nor does it address any of my other points.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  32. Coop says:

    I agree with his criticism of the WP opinion section. What’s more telling is the way he judges the value of the entire paper solely on its opinion section, even though it makes up such a small percentage of the paper’s content.

    Noticeably absent from his criticism of the WP, is Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog. Maybe because it’s one of the best, most substantive blogs out there. It more than makes up for the drivel on the opinion pages.

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  33. Andre Kenji says:

    @Coop:

    Noticeably absent from his criticism of the WP, is Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog. Maybe because it’s one of the best, most substantive blogs out there. It more than makes up for the drivel on the opinion pages.

    That´s the problem of Pareene´s article. Ezra Klein is more than enough to compensate Rubin and Krauthammer.

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  34. James Joyner says:

    @Rafter JandersThewildgoose: This is the United States, not the United Kingdom. There’s simply not a sizable left wing in the European sense here. Krugman is absolutely a leftist in the American context; he would be a moderate Tory or a Liberal in the UK context.

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  35. jlina says:

    @Andre Kenji: I am confused… how could any amount of good journalism compensate for the continued broadcast of admitted lies? Journalism is, at its heart, supposed to be about the dissemination of truth to a wider audience. The dissemination of lies to a wider audience is called propoganda, and there should be no place for it in a serious newspaper.

    As for JJ, well, I think your point was done a disservice by your need to find fault with each entry in the series… even you admit that the grounds you critique his WaPo entry on are weak, for example. I am a fan of Pareene’s style and values, but he’s certainly not flawless. Had you focused only on the flawed aspects of this list, your article would have been more broadly compelling.

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  36. superdestroyer says:

    @wr:

    If you every want to entertain yourself, look up the educational qualifications of the guest of most of the talk shows on MCNBC. It will become quickly apparent that one has to be the graduate of an Ivy League or Ivy like school to be invited onto MSNBC. How else do you get four or five prep school, Ivy league graduates discussing inner city crime or how to improve public schools.

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  37. wr says:

    @superdestroyer: At least on MSNBC — on their two weekend morining shows, anyway — you’ve got people discussing inner city crime or how to improve public schools who have lived in the inner city or gone to public schools, and who still know people who do currently.

    Find one such person on Fox. Or Meet the Press. or This Week.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  38. Andre Kenji says:

    @jlina:

    how could any amount of good journalism compensate for the continued broadcast of admitted lies?

    Define “admitted lies”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Andre Kenji says:

    For instance, the late Aziz Ab’Sáber, probably the biggest geographer of Brazil, said that the idea that Climate Change would destroy the Amazon Rainforest was a deceit, and he said that he the rainforest would become bigger, not larger. He also said that most of consequences of higher temperatures were being distorted by alarmist scientists. And he was a geographer that studied climates.

    That´, obviously, would not count as “admitted lies”.

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  40. Rafter Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    That’s a very weak defense. There absolutely are very many people, tens of millions of them, with left wing views in the US, but they are systematically shut out of the public conversation (how often do labor leaders or socialists get on the Sunday show? Where’s Kos’s WaPo column? Or even John Cole’s?)

    It’s a neat trick: exclude the left from public view, and then claim the success of that effort as proof there is no left.

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  41. superdestroyer says:

    @wr:

    I would say that almost no one discussing inner city schools or crime on MSNBC went to inner city schools or even attended public schools. For all of the liberals discussions of too many whites on talk shows, I would argue that too many prep school, Ivy League graduates are a bigger problems. How can opinion makers discuss real problems when they have lived such isolated lives and been surround by very intelligent, very ambitious people.

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  42. superdestroyer says:

    @Rafter Janders:

    Unions are well represented because everyone talking on those shows is a union member. The last people who will ever be on those shows are companies that are in the middle of labor disputes. Randi_Weingarten and Andy Stern could get on television whenever they wanted.

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  43. James Joyner says:

    @Rafter Janders: “There absolutely are very many people, tens of millions of them, with left wing views in the US” There are 310 million people in the US. There’s a reason the Democrats stopped nominating hard left candidates for president.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  44. Douglas Moran says:

    @James Joyner: That’s fairly disingenuous. Of that 310 million, less than half (~150 million) are registered voters. Of that number, about 128 million voted in the Presidential election this last cycle. “Tens of millions” is more than enough to swing an election one way or another.

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  45. alanmt says:

    You mean someone doesn’t know why Mark Halperin is a joke?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  46. Rafter Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    Do you imagine that’s some sort of response? It’s a two party system. But that does not erase the fact that there are tens of millions with left wing views. All you’re denying, and what I never claimed, is that they are an absolute majority.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  47. Rafter Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    When have Democrats EVER in modern times nominated a hard left candidate for president? What an ignorant thing to claim.

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  48. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    Name at least two (bc you wrote “candidates” plural) hard left candidates nominated by the Democratic Party and the hard left positions they espoused (nationalization of industry? Forcible redistribution of wealth? Gay abortions on demand?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  49. James Joyner says:

    @Rafer Janders: You’re making my point for me. Democrats were getting shellacked by nominating the likes of McGovern, Dukakis, and Mondale, who were widely considered too far to the left. They’ve subsequently nominated much more centrist candidates: Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama and done much, much better. But even Dukakis wasn’t hard left in a European sense; that view represents a tiny fringe here. Even Ralph Nader isn’t espousing nationalization of industry.

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  50. Brummagem Joe says:

    @James Joyner:

    But he’s an ideological and intellectual counterweight to Krugman.

    Don’t be ridiculous. Krugman is one of the world’s leading authorities on monetary policy, a Nobel prize winner, the author with his wife of one of the most widely used economics textbooks in the US university system, and regularly rated by his peers as one of the 10 most influential economists in the world. He’s also been consistently right about the extent and depth of the Bush recession. Will on the other hand is an ideological propagandist. He has no other profession.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  51. Brummagem Joe says:

    @James Joyner:

    But he’s an ideological and intellectual counterweight to Krugman.

    Don’t be ridiculous. Krugman is one of the world’s leading authorities on monetary policy, a Nobel prize winner, the author with his wife of one of the most widely used economics textbooks in the US university system, and regularly rated by his peers as one of the 10 most influential economists in the world. He’s also been consistently right about the extent and depth of the Bush recession. Will on the other hand is an ideological propagandist. He has no other profession.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  52. Andre Kenji says:

    @James Joyner:

    Not even in Europe the hard left candidates that your blog commenters want are elected. In most European countries the so called center-right won most of Post-War elections(I don´t remember a large country where a party of the center-left won most of the elections) and the far-left parties are considered a joke.

    By the way, in many elections the Center-left parties won because they had very moderate candidates like Massimo D´Alema, François Mitterrand and Gerhard Schroder.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  53. C. Clavin says:

    Sorry…I didn’t get past;

    “…There’s several more paragraphs like that but none of them actually tell us what’s wrong with Politico, Mike Allen, or Jim VandeHei…”

    which was immeduately preceeded by;

    “…Allen exemplifies the sort of political journalist who thinks his job is faithfully reporting what mendacious professional liars tell him, while also usually protecting their identities…”

    Pareene points out what is wrong with Allen, and for that matter all of today’s journalism, and Joyner ignores it. That’s all you ned to know…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  54. MBunge says:

    “He leads with eye-rolling at the fact that Harold Ford, Jr. and Mark Halperin are frequent guests with no explanation whatsoever as to why that’s a bad thing. We’re just supposed to know, apparently. But both have reasonably solid credentials. Ford is a former congressman and chair of the Democratic Leadership Council who’s currently, among other things, a visiting professor at NYU. Halperin is Time’s senior political analyst and a former political director at ABC.”

    And that sort of credentialism is close to the height of hackery. Do Ford and Halperin actually contribute anything of real value to any discussion? Do they say anything that wouldn’t be said by numerous others if given the opportunity? How many times has either said something that made you think differently about anything?

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  55. Lit3Bolt says:

    @MBunge:

    Exactly. Ford and Halperin are famous for being famous, elite because they’re elite, and insiders because they’re insiders. The fact that Joyner considers Ford, Halperin, and Scarborough to be “well-read,” and “often right” even though their center-right views “are unsaleable to the masses” reveals a broad anti-democratic, aristocratic strain of thinking unworthy of any political scientist in the United States. These guys are hacks and propagandists who are paid for having conventional Beltway opinions, and are the antithesis of journalistic inquiry and debate. Their trade is Beltway gossip and name dropping, not hard hitting interviews or questions or inquiry into any meaningful issue. That this has to be spelled out for Dr. Joyner, who apparently is still bemused by the whole “hack” thing, is hilarious.

    Joyner took aim at Pareene for being a hack, and the accusation does have some merit, but more importantly exposed himself as a defender and sycophant of the Washington establishment and the servile media that protects them.

    “Outside the Beltway” must be one of those Bush-style names that functions as the opposite of what it really is and really does, like the “Patriot Act” and “No Child Left Behind” and “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  56. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    You’re being deliberately dishonest. First you claimed that the Democrats were “nominating hard left candidates for president.” When challenged on that, and realizing that it is impossible to claim with a straight face that men such as Mondale and Dukakis were men of the “hard left” (and you conspicously avoided my challenge to name any “hard left” policy positions they espoused) you retreat to the weasel’s position that they were “widely considered too far to the left” (italics mine).

    And you then have the nerve to claim Obama, Kerry, Clinton and Gore as Democrats who presumably were NOT “widely considered too far to the left.” But of course those men were so considered — by Republicans. We just had an entire presidential campaign where the whole thrust of GOP attacks was that Obama was a tax and spend socialist Marxist who was coming to redistribute all our wealth.

    Face it, the whole Republican game is to paint every Democrat, be he Clinton or Dukakis, as “too far to the left.” That doesn’t mean that they are, or that Dukakis was “hard left” while Obama is a moderate centrist — it just means that the GOP propaganda game has varying success over time. They could paint Mondale as too left in a time of rising economic prosperity, while they couldn’t do so to Obama after Bush presided over a worldwide economic collapse. But none of that changes the fact that McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, etc. were no more “hard left” than, say, Kerry or Gore. Every Democratic presidential nomineee was generally firmly in the Democratic mainstream.

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  57. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    Also, too: supposedly there is no left-wing position to speak of in this country. There are so few real leftists that we have to count George Stephanopolous as one.

    But, on the other hand, the hard left is so numerous and powerful that for decades it was able to control the nominating process for the Democratic party. There’s simultaneously no “hard left” in this country and yet there were tens of millions who voted for “hard left” candidates as the nominee.

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  58. Rafer Janders says:

    I will concede there’s one thing wrong with Pareene’s list: it lacks one name.

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  59. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    Seriously, James? Mike Dukakis and Walter Mondale were “hard left” candidates? You’re seriously claiming that with a straight face?

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