Exiting the Courthouse Metro station today, I came face to face with an alluring ad for The Politico. Upon arriving home, I navigated to the website to find out what the authoritative ad was promoting. Apparently, a couple of Washington Post veterans left their positions to get involed with The Politico, which looks to be a new, multi-platform reporting venture that will cover Capital Hill, the presidential race, and lobbying and issue advocacy "with enterprise, style, and impact." I have no idea what they mean by that, but I have to ask, is a project like The Politico really necessary? Doesn't D.C. already have The Hill, Congressional Quarterly, and Roll Call, not to mention The Washington Post, The Washington Examiner, and, even...ugh...The Washington Times? Does Washington really need another outlet for the chattering class to bloviate*--to make uninformed speculations about whether the country is ready for a black man or a woman as president and whether Nancy Pelosi is allowing some Rep into her inner circle? Is such reporting at all useful? It definitely is not at all original. If The Politico is what I think it is--the self-satisfied trailer that flashes all sorts of recognizeable faces doesn't look promising--it embodies the primary problem of political reporting, which covers too much on the subjects of tactics and political posturing and too little on translating what on earth our elected officials actually do each day, what legislation they are proposing and passing, and who exactly their legislation is serving.
Such journalism embodies the problem with this town in general, which is that some folks get so into the idea that they are mixing with the Illuminati, the "powerful" people, that they report on the goings on as if they were in a cafeteria surveying the social dynamics between cliques. Little do any of them realize that such a paltry minority of people know or care who most of Washington is. I enjoy a clever dig at politicians or a little Washington gossip every once in awhile, but I turn to the totally unserious Wonkette for this, not a legitimate paper, and there is a glut of entities that fulfill this need already. If I'm wrong about The Politico, and it is a serious, useful periodical, I'll be the first to admit it. If I am right, I look ever forward to reading another article about whether the nation can elect a Mormon for president or whether Giuliani can win over social conservatives.
*When looking up the word bloviate to make sure I was spelling it right--it is unlisted in my computer's dictionary--I found this very appropriate example of its usage on Dictionary.com: Anyone who has ever spent an idle morning watching the Washington talk shows has probably wondered: how did these people become entitled to earn six-figure salaries bloviating about the week's headlines?
-- Robert Worth, "Quick! The Index!", New York Times, June 3, 2001.