White House Takes On Politico

Marc Ambinder reports, “It’s not just Fox News that’s become subject of White House derision. The following is an excerpt from a joke e-mail that is circulating among White House staffers.”

politico-screenshot7 narratives politico is fighting in their efforts to get an interview with the President

1.       They are more interested in readers than accuracy

2.       Its okay to be wrong everyonce in a while, if your are the first to break the news

3.       More interested in gossip than news

4.       A spouter of the worst sort of insider conventional wisdom

5.       Their analysis about obama has been wrong more than any one

6.       Click … period

7.       More obsessed with personality than policy

It’s pretty amusing, actually,when one understands that,

It’s a response, of sorts, to the analytical essay that Politico editor-in-chief John Harris wrote about the “seven stories that Barack Obama doesn’t want told.”  It’s fairly caustic — and, truth be told, the White House maintains good relationships with Politico reporters and has been known to try to agenda-set by dishing out a few tips to the publication. But make no mistake: many on the White House senior staff dislike Politico’s brand of journalism, and they do not like the effect that Politico’s metabolism has on the rest of the press corps, including this (i.e., my own) corner of it.

While I’m leery of the White House “going after” media outlets, whether Fox News or Rush Limbaugh or The Politico or HuffPo, this particular bit strikes me as all in good fun.  And, frankly, not without merit.

I’ve written over the years about the increasing professionalization of the blogosphere, with major blogs taking on many of the aspects of the mainstream press that we once scorned.  Less commented on, perhaps, is the extent to which the reverse is happening.  All of the major media outlets these days have blogs; some have oodles of them.   And Politico is really the culmination of this process, with the blogs and the reporting virtually indistinguishable in both appearance and ethic.

As we’ve moved into the 24/7/365 mode of reporting, the old customs of careful fact checking and multiple sources have been under pressure.  That was true, to some extent, even in the pre-Internet days (such as the wild speculation during the live reporting on the attempted assassination of President Reagan) but it’s really ramped up of late.

With the online versions of the papers becoming of equal importance — if not supplanting entirely — the print versions, the need to generate pageviews has proliferated.  One has only to look at the layouts of the pages to see that:  Most longer stories are spread out over multiple pages simply to generate artificial pageviews and every page has various widgets to entice people to click through to the Most Emailed, Most Popular, Most Sexy stories.

And the bloggy ethic of get it up fast, promote it, and correct it later if you’re wrong has gradually taken over.  Except, sometimes, the last part.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.