Tag Archive: Hacks

Dec 27 2013

Who the President Reads

At the end of each year Salon’s Alex Pareene gives us his list of his top ten journalistic hacks. This year Alex has ranked the columnists that are President Barack Obama top reads. As, he points out in the article, the Internet has made the conversation more “democratized” than in the past when everyone relied on the print media. Today it isn’t so much how many people read a columnist, it’s who.

But as a Politico editor could tell you, it’s not how many you reach, it’s who. Among Friedman’s readers: much of the nation’s executive class. Among Allen’s? Nearly everyone who works in any capacity for every member of Congress. That’s why it’s necessary to criticize them. They really do “drive the conversation,” to use a particularly odious Politico-ism. Both what is considered politically possible and politically desirable in this country depend in large part on what a handful of mainly older, mainly white and overwhelmingly male columnists and pundits say. Who is let into that conversation and who is left out of it has consequences for all Americans. That was made clear 10 years ago, in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, which the nation’s premier political opinion makers (what we once called “Thought Leaders”) almost universally supported. The Bush administration was aware of this, too, and devoted more efforts to convincing them than to trying to win over what we vaguely call “the people.”

President Barack Obama. Barack Obama loves newspaper columnists. He reads them, because he thinks they offer smarter commentary than one hears on cable news, and he invites them to the White House regularly, so he can influence their writing.

There in lies the problem, as Alex lays it out. Of the columnists that Pres. Obama has said are his favorite reads and who he has invited to the White House, none are women, all but one is black, most are older than 50 and most supported the Iraq war in 2003.

These are the men whose opinions the president “favors”

12. Eugene Robinson, Washington Post.

11. Jonathan Chait, New York magazine.

10. Josh Barro, Business Insider.

9. Ezra Klein, Washington Post.

8. E.J. Dionne, Washington Post.

7. David Brooks.

6. Gerald Seib, Wall Street Journal.

5. David Ignatius, Washington Post.

4. Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg View.

3. Joe Klein, Time.

2. Thomas Friedman, The Davos Herald-Register.

1. Fred Hiatt, Washington Post Editorial Page editor.

Who do you think the president should be reading more? Why?