“Would You Like To Know More?” (Updated)

Thank goodness for the Columbia Journalism Review. They’ve looked into claims that Politico redacted material from a McChrystal story because it was unflattering to the profession avocation. They pronounce all clear. There’s nothing to see.

As you likely know, Politico after-the-fact redacted their reporters’ statements that Michael Hastings, author of the Rolling Stone McChrystal piece, was so effectively candid because he didn’t worry about access and burning bridges. In Jon Stewart’s non-redacted words, Hastings piece revealed the rest of American media as the mediocre, self-editing access sycophants we all know them to be.

But hold on. The august CJR arbiters received an email from a Politico editor. Therein Politico proclaims the deletions occurred solely ‘to tighten up the piece.’ To CJR the issue is settled. (Although carefully crafted language allows CJR to cover itself for the future). Politico doesn’t escape unscathed. CJR wraps Politico’s knuckles for bad form. How thoughtless to withhold such an explanatory email for a day. Many were left in anguish needlessly.

Still all maintain shattered pretense. One has to ask why, given the cost? Even the most casual, inattentive media consumer knows the truth. More intensive consumers or players in the charade know punitive denial of access could always harm careers. With today’s imploding newsrooms it’s a veritable pink slip. In truth, Politico doesn’t need CJR. Or ‘approval’ from what’s left of the media establishment rubble. They created what everyone else is trying to be: a successful escape pod from a dying WaPo traditional media organization. They are one of the few working new models in a blasted heath – for the moment. Politico is a case study for many in and outside media. The Atlantic’s re-direction to emphasize mostly online properties some argue is based in part on Politico.

Institutionally, the vaunted CJR is actually in supplicant’s role. They embody the old, the failed, failing or dying. Sustained interaction with Politico allows CJR a window into the new while extending validation and priceless relevance. Does Politico really care what any of them say? A shame Politico’s formula for success is shoveling tactical drivel while mainstreaming so many Movement hacks.



Hastings gives a terrific interview to the UK Times (reg required). Confirming what Politico redacted, he states:

“I think he had been protected by other profile writers in the past, who wanted access,” Hastings said. “I am not an access journalist. That’s not my style . . . They were pretty candid right from the get go,” he said. RS editor Bates later told US television: “They knew when we were on the record. They said a lot of stuff to us off the record that’s not in the story. We respected those boundaries. This was all when they knew they were on.”

In a[n earlier] confessional article for GQ about the dark arts of campaign journalism, Hastings wrote: “You pretend to be friendly and non-threatening, and over time you ‘build trust’, which everybody involved knows is an illusion. If the time comes, if your editor calls for it, you’re supposed to f*** them over.”

Another general, Buck Turgidson, sagely advised a president in a crisis, ‘Now, the truth is not always a pleasant thing.’ Pity that NATO doesn’t agree with David Brooks’ clucking that ‘kvetching’ brought down a ‘super competent’ [great] man. Per the UK Times, “Even senior Nato [non-ironic sic] officials admit, however, that the profile brought together an irrefutable weight of anecdotal evidence about the fractured relationships that surrounded General McChrystal’s command. It also incorporated a series of revelations about the mission’s prospects of success.”

The intriguing question re RS? What was said off the record.


In another forum Hastings goes further:

[QUESTION:] In the hypercompetitive media world, some of the reaction to your story has been a little negative, that you have “hostile views” and that you’re anti-war. Some have wondered how you could jeopardize your future access to sources. How do you respond to that?

[HASTINGS] Look, I went into journalism to do journalism, not advertising. My views are critical but that shouldn’t be mistaken for hostile – I’m just not a stenographer. There is a body of work that shows how I view these issues but that was hard-earned through experience, not something I learned going to a cocktail party on fucking K Street. That’s what reporters are supposed to do, report the story.


  1. Comment says

    We flipped on MTP and McCain was on again. He might as well be host. He will be on This Week next Sunday – Predictable.

  2. Comment says

    Though we have to admit that we shed no tears over TC breaking up the Journolist smugset.

  3. Comment says

    Those two are both about equal – different kind of phony. But both are phony. Tucker’s act is to pretend he is the last of the risk takers in a land of bicycle helmets. Total BS – plus thin skinned. Goldberg has his own act.

  4. Comment says

    That K st. comment is cool — Btw, though we read the polls, we very much doubt the GOP will take the House – Speaker Boehner would be a good foil for Obama – he is morose and bitter seeming. He seems petulant and peevish – esp with angry and disappointed – which is often. Right now too many in the GOP seem angry and baby-like. Even lobbyists who win, like the head of the NRA, give the impression of being losers under seige. The only thing they really care out is investigating powers so they can waste time probing Sestakgate instead of some BP stuff. We think – deep down – they know Obama will be reelected. We think so. Newt’s dumb recent book is sort of a jump the shark moment for the man who wanted to make Saving American Civilization tax deduct-able.

  5. Comment says

    LOL – that’s funny. Ww think the GOP is gonna blow it with too many bad candidates. Who knows – just a guess. It all depends on growth rates and jobs – everything else is just details.

    Brooks is really getting reamed in his comments section – But we think Brooks really longs for the day when he could be a Timesman like Scotty Reston keeping mum on Bay of Pigs or perhaps an Alsop or a Punch Sulzbger giving antiseptic tour d’orizons etc

  6. Dr Leo Strauss says

    The non-verbal and other cues suggested ‘no.’ The entire mise-en-scène was an odd mix of celebration and optimism for November suffused with Spenglerian doom. Pessimism that liberal secular popular culture would overwhelm their Last Stand.

  7. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Spent Friday in part with hard core Values Movement types active in significant independent expenditure campaigns against ‘soft Republicans’. Weigel’s misstep reified so much of their world view and siege mentality. They cackled with glee at incoming txts that he would be picked up by Huffington Post. Just the possibility cemented the Beckian narrative. The new David Brock some proclaimed.

    As an aside, all of them used Droids, Blackberries or other non-Apple devices only. Has Harvey Mansfield reviewed the new iPhone yet?

  8. Comment says

    Not to beast this horse too much because we don’t really care and it will sort itself out anyway, but it’s interesting to see that odious Iraq war propagandist J. Goldberg (who seemed to lie about Qaeda-Iraq links in NYer articles)jumping and down with joy. That guys is a fraud – falsely markets himself as a liberal. With all there terrible columns at WaPo it really is sad to see that clown at Atlantic.

  9. Comment says

    Weigel being fired from the WaPo’s neocon hothouse small temp victory for DB – feelings balm.

  10. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Yeah, he’s in type or flight mode. Some solace for him. David Broder would approve.

    Still, it must be hard. To pioneer shallow trendism as a career and then realize that he may still clamber after trends, but trends don’t take an interest in him (to turn Trotsky on his side, if not Hegelian head).

    Imagine the pain recalling the Old Days. When ‘super competent’ [sic] People of Substance tuned in daily to watch MacNeil Lehrer . He proffered how many ingratiating smiles to barely conceal his impatience with Shield’s unvarnished Old School sincerity? He paid his dues. All so he could, ahem, casually dole out tidbits of ‘inside kvetching’. And be celebrated for it.

    Puzzling Brooks writes at length of D.C. tribalism. D.C. summer interns from every community college learn this in two weeks. The City is extraordinarily tribal, for that matter. As is San Jose, CA, Columbia, SC, etc. It’s every law firm. Most PTA meetings are tribal. What, after all, is the NYT newsroom?

    How Brooks must dread the fall of night with the paywall’s on-coming shroud.

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