Ezra Klein, Josh Marshall Summoned to West Wing, write Identical Opinion Pieces

[This is an updated version of my earlier post from today]

Yesterday, NPR White House correspondent Ari Shapiro tweeted this:


Today Josh Marshal published a piece called  “She Has to Go”,  which is all about Lois Lerner, the IRS official in charge of the unit overseeing tax exempt groups, who is expected to plead The Fifth in today’s hearings. Marshall says:

Whether or not she should be fired for whatever she did in the scandal itself, deciding to take the fifth means she needs to be removed from her position.

This same morning, Ezra Klein published “Yes, Heads Should Roll at the IRS” which effectively says the same thing.

Three identical pieces would have been overkill, certainly, so Jonathan Capehart took a different assignment from the meeting at the White House. The result is a beatdown of Ta-Nehisi Coates and other black critics of Obama’s deplorable Morehouse speech, critics, with whom, Capehart insists,  poor Obama, just “can’t win.”

Meetings like this have really become a very standard feature of the Obama presidency, and I really only draw people’s attention to this stuff to confirm my overall thesis about the abject servility of these people. I mean, the only thing really newsworthy about these little message-management chats at the White House is the brazenness. I find myself wondering why they happen at all.

I get that in times of scandal or crisis, the president can’t rely, as he normally does, on the average liberal journo’s unerring ability to instinctively provide what he requires, at least not the specifics. But I do wonder why these periodic distributions of talking points require physical meetings at the White House, considering the extent to which social networks make them into very minor scandals. Why not a conference call? An email exchange? Are these methods that insecure?

It almost seems as if the spectacle of the meeting taking place is as important as the message management that comes out of it. For real journalists, Klein, Marshall and Capehart  must surely be looked upon with contempt. But for the conformists and status seekers that dominate liberal media, they look like the lucky cool kids, getting the talking points straight from the World’s Most Powerful Man himself — or at least a high-status proxy — and are fodder for fantasies about one day being included in these little tête-à-têtes themselvesThese meetings helpfully signify with great precision what they all should be writing and tweeting about, in sync with Klein, Marshall and Capehart, if they ever want that day to come.



Not that it really adds much to the central Dog Bites Man story, but Politico has confirmed that the aforementioned meeting was with Dear Leader himself and that later in the week the prez met with top-tier lapdogs including Thomas Friedman, David Ignatius and Joe Klein to discuss national security.

Related Reading

New Shills Rising at MSNBC

The Cable News Heroism of Chris Hayes

Keeper of the Gatekeepers

A Vampire’s Tears


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21 Responses to Ezra Klein, Josh Marshall Summoned to West Wing, write Identical Opinion Pieces

  1. Capehart’s piece is usual Kaplan Test Prep Post drivel. It’s also obvious he knows nothing about TNC. TNC doesn’t criticize the President lightly. I still can’t find who else was at this meeting besides those three. And why do we need more than one Kaplan Test Prep Post clown there anyway?

  2. Never taken any courses on journalist ethics, but this kind of thing offends my normal, run-of-the-mill ethics. Collusion, plain and simple. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t Obama run fewer press conferences than even the bumbling, banal Bush (woo alliteration!)? The media management, or attempts at it, are galling. These fools meet with the guy whose cops have been spying on their colleagues, so as to receive marching orders. Disgusting. Let’s put journalists in the same “hated professions” box as lawyers, please.

    And to echo Phil, that is one lame-ass defense of Obama vis-a-vis policies and behavior with regards to the African American community. Particularly, the paragraph that begins “Johnson and others seem unaware…” is like a hilarious reversal of Solnit’s “I know all the bad things he’s done” schtick.

    • ohtarzie says:

      Yeah, Nicholas, it’s certainly not journalism they’re practicing, but then, when are they? Your comment made me wonder about why these meetings happen at all and also why, with all my skepticism, I still find them notable. So I’ve made a minor update to the post, to speculate about it.

      To be honest, I only skimmed all of these articles just to confirm they were as servile as I would have anticipated and that yes, Marshall and Klein basically said the same thing. So I can’t really speak to any arguments made in them. I find this stuff really puke-worthy and only read it as much as my interest in the mechanism of crowd control requires.

      • I’m curious about something. Shouldn’t these people at least let their readers know they got to meet with the President? I get that maybe they can’t divulge what was talked about but I’m sure it would do a great service to their readers to know what’s happening. Maybe the readers would think different of them especially in the instance you posted about. Funny that both Marshall and Young Ezra write the exact same thing the next day. Almost as dumb as the Faux Noise reporter that’s been in the news this week.

      • ohtarzie says:

        Phil –

        That’s a really good point and I should have mentioned that. The meetings are always disclosed on Twitter but there is rarely any acknowledgement of it by the attendees. Yesterday, I believe Marshall did acknowledge the meeting taking place, but it was in a ‘belittle the right-wing conspiracist’ kind of vein which, I think, he has since, scrubbed. I could have just missed it when I went looking for it this morning. But the meeting was talked about a lot on Twitter. Even Chris Hayes acknowledged that it happened, pursuant to discounting its importance. Hayes also noted that he didn’t attend. Everyone talks about it but the people who go. Maybe the secrecy adds to the allure.

  3. alhambralahomo says:

    You surrender the value of your chance to be alive when the most fascinating topic for you iswhat does the boss think. I can’t help but suspect something sexy is going on behind walls. Nothing these guys have ever reported has been an exclusive scoop that their access gave. They could , in theory, even forgo the emails and just fawn the way they were going to fawn anyway. How can yet another trip to the white house to have Boring Bama drone some points at you be motivation in itself? Who could be jealous of that? There’s girls in the white house walls or something. Maybe there’s a certain amount of fear. Like, it would stick out if you said you weren’t interested, like striking at walmart.

    • ohtarzie says:

      I love how you make everything about sex, alhambralahomo. You might be onto something, though. It is a great mystery to me why the apparent rewards for servility are so damn tempting.

  4. Your point about why the meetings have to take place in person rather than over a conference call is interesting and, having seen it firsthand, quite right I think. Even “straight news” reporters in Washington get a thrill out of being on a first name basis with a politician. I went over a guy’s house, then with public radio and now at Fox News, whose mantle was decked out with pictures of him and the likes of Dick Cheney and Condie Rice. Dennis Kucinich nodded at me in a hallway once and I thought the only thing that’d make me cooler would be a pair of Ray-Bans. That was until I realized everyone else in Congress snickered when he walked by. Oh shit, I was sitting at the losers’ table.

    Adult life has essentially the same dynamics as high school: Most everyone would at some point like to be cool. If you’re a liberal Democrat, hanging out with Obama or a high-level surrogate makes you cool and will most certainly get you laid, or so those who participate in these meetings presumably think. And they’re probably not wrong. Watch out, congressional interns.

    Those who host these meetings know how easily impressed most journalists are in Washington and play up the pomp that comes with a meeting at The White House. And fortunately for these journalists, they live in a town full of other people that are easily impressed.

  5. Happy Jack says:

    The Chosen Ones are chosen for a reason. I’m pretty sure the WH has access to Google. A quick background check of their writings would reveal the extent of their ambition and reliability on the pressing matters of the day. Iraq is a fairly reliable marker.

    To be fair, I don’t know this Capehart guy, but a quick look produces a stint on the editorial board of the Daily News. It’s possible he argued against invasion in meetings, but I have a hard time believing he wouldn’t carry the mark of the beast in Hiatt’s eyes.

  6. Ned Ludd says:

    Every time Ezra Klein meets Obama, or someone else of import in the West Wing, Klein’s job becomes easier. People in government (and not just Democrats) are going to consider him a person of status. He won’t get ignored. He can get data, information, and quotes he wants for his articles, and he will get them promptly. If you work in the government or one of the political parties, and Ezra Klein and Matthew Yglesias call you, you are going to return Klein’s call first. You might forget to call Yglesias back. But if I hear that the president is meeting with Matthew Yglesias…

    Taking time to personally meet someone confers status, in a way that a conference call or email exchange does not.

    • ohtarzie says:

      Yeah. We all seem to agree it’s about status. Still so odd that the complete forfeiting of even a patina of journalistic integrity doesn’t temper the buzz. I find that so telling. Means that if you go to Washington, you either get swept up in all this crap or you get the hell out.

      • Ned Ludd says:

        Journalists are like politicians; they enjoy status and money. When they forfeit their integrity, they are forfeiting something that has no value to them. After a heated argument, I convinced the editor of my college newspaper that he had distorted something that I had said. However, he refused to issue a correction. He boasted that there was nothing that I could do about it. Then he bragged that, if he wanted to, he could outright lie about me in the newspaper. It came off like a threat. He enjoyed being able to wield power.

  7. Ned Ludd says:

    One of the first protests I went to was covered by the local TV and radio news stations. They were expecting trouble, there was none, and they correctly reported the atmosphere as being festive. Then, at the end, as people were leaving, the police pepper sprayed the front of the crowd. The coverage went from positive to negative. The news stations uniformly depicted us as attacking the police.

    I called one station and asked if they would like to talk to a protester, to hear what happened from our perspective. The woman I talked to said, “No. If we need information, we’ll get it from the police.” This is somewhat similar to journalists who get their talking points from the West Wing. They don’t see it as compromising their journalistic integrity. They see it as getting their information from a place of authority.

    • The woman I talked to said, “No. If we need information, we’ll get it from the police.”

      Ever notice that the TV news, and newspapers, never say a bad word about the police and if a cop is arrested always blame it on the “rogue cop”? Like newspapers, it’s just another tool of the establishment.

  8. thedoctorisindahaus says:

    what are the odds that such a perfectly (if lamely) choreographed spectacle frightens even its directors?
    The whole ‘all they have to do is flip a switch’ means that whoever – WHOEVER – will be in charge at the moment that switch is flipped, will be the ones calling the shots on all – ALL – the elites who aren’t in that particular circle.
    Unlike us, enough elites have received intellectual training of a calibre to get them reasoning longer term.

    They see these creepy and stupid but definitely creepy little school paper meet ups at the white house and how their entire monopoly game is so flabbergastingly easy to obtain from the people.

    While the system is pretty smooth it is also not ahistorical. Factions ebb and flow and rise and fall.
    There may be a particular rift among the elite or there just may be a fear of a future rift, in which gains and losses will be existential rather than black and red ledgers.
    If you can watch every move that an ordinary nobody citizen makes, from telephone call to email message to street cams, how much easier is it to keep tabs on an important person, upon whom you dedicate manpower surveillance. If you’re the family that’s competing for a contract with the family that’s running a thing, why wouldn’t they just blow you away and not even bother with the facade of competition, since the little people will never be offended.

    Not discounting your theory of a rift, only suggesting an unknown about when instead of where the rift is.

    I imagine if I were a powerful person and life is like high school eternal, I’d be terrified of the class vice president being allowed having an armed guard, if I were the treasurer without a one.
    It is of course possible that the elites have bred out of themselves such an anxious nature and can actually manage to just get along, since fraternity allows for successful domination of the excluded.

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  13. Bill Wolfe says:

    The beltway “environmental” community is one of the worst at this.

    Check this quote out, which clearly came from the WH because it was issued BEFORE the EPA rules were released or EPA Administrator made her statement. That timing was even mentioned in the NY Times story:

    “We are thrilled that the E.P.A. is taking this major step forward in implementing President Obama’s climate action plan,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, a senior vice president at the League of Conservation Voters, (via NY Times)

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