More on Politico

Truevcu says this about my post on Politico:

As much as I enjoy(ed) politico as a source of news I find myself gradually more and more unable to refute the argument that, while not as hopelessly biased as FoxNews, are drifting into a very bad place.

Actually, I disagree — the primary reason Politico is egregiously terrible is precisely because of its assiduous adherence to neutrality. Because the publication emphasizes balance uber alles, disingenuous arguments and talking points exist, unqualified, next to legitimate — or at least, more legitimate — good faith arguments. This is compounded by Politico’s obsessively political focus, so policy gets even shorter shrift than it might in other publications. It’s worth noting that this problem is endemic to all traditional media coverage to varying degrees.

I also hate Politico because it feeds and purveys the notion that political considerations drive governance. Of course, there will never be complete seperation of politics and policy, but Politco covers government like fantasy sports. Who’s up? Who’s down? Who won? Who Lost? These questions should obviously be of secondary importance when considering matters of public policy, but jackals like Jim VandeHei, Chris Matthews, and Maureen Dowd spin — indeed relish spinning — governing into a giant soap opera, and becuase of their outsized voice, amplify the importance of political posturing in governance. The “narratives” they so dispassionately report become obtuse self-fulfilling prophecies, which quite unlike soap operas, have real impacts on real people. Like “balance”, this is hardly Politico‘s affliction alone, but for my money is arguably the most pernicious force in politics.

5 Responses to “More on Politico”

  1. truevcu Says:

    I’m as irritated with attempts at balance degnerating into making false equivalencies as anyone, but reading politico since the election you get the feeling they’re trying to make up for the rest of the media tripping over itself to fluff Obama’s pillow during the campaign.

    Additionally, I miss Kotecki ;_;

  2. Jon Says:

    I don’t disagree that it’s been a bit more right-leaning, but I think that’s because Politico is myopically focused on moving papers and they know conflict sells. Naturally, Republicans take advantage of this (and some of it’s Obama’s fault, too — wanting the stimulus to be a bipartisan victory was a miscalculation), and hence it seems to have a more Republican tilt. I also don’t necessarily blame Republicans for using the media when publications like Politico are more than happy to run with anything a politician says.

  3. mike Says:

    Right, well, simply, politico seeks to validate its own existence. In government, this is mildly inexcusable (dramatization hinders productivity and gives assholes a platform). In sports, it’s not (professional sports are entertainment). Hence the validity of your fantasy sports analogy.

  4. Jon Says:

    I guess I should have made the fantasy sports metaphor a bit clearer, but I actually think there are striking similarities.

    Fantasy sports focuses on aspects of the game that are an inescapable byproduct of a competition, but are nonetheless ancillary to the outcome. What creating a market for stat obsession does though is heighten the importance of statistics themselves, which in turn, creates incentives for athletes themselves to focus on something that is secondary, and often of detriment, to the job they are paid to do. The same is quite true of strictly POLITICAL journalism (of which Politico is the apotheosis), which in monomaniacally covering politics, enhances short-term political incentives as opposed to sound policy incentives.

    For what it’s worth, I think one of Obama’s strengths (certainly it was in the campaign anyway) was recognizing that in the long run, short term political incentives often weaken long term strategy.

  5. My Endless Hatred for Politico, Part 85,832 « Yes, Let’s Talk About This Says:

    […] 2009 Gabriel Sherman has an article in the New Republic on my favorite little rag, Politico. As I previously suspected, Politico is animated exclusively through driving readership through frivilous political […]

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