Michael Wolff, internet shouty guy and writer-for-magazines, was supposed to write a juicy tell-all for Vanity Fair about his scandalous affair with an intern! Instead he's apparently been working on a piece about fucking Politico?
And god, it is terrible! It is about how right-wing dinosaur book author Michael Crichton once said newspapers would die, because newspapers are dumb, and now, look: they are dead! Except for Politico, which is a little tiny Washington DC newspaper with a money-losing website. It is revolutionary! How is it revolutionary? Because it is a bunch of loser DC wonks talking to each other about loser DC wonk stuff, and many of its reporters appear on TV all the time. Breaking!
Oh, good, another opportunity for John Harris to say some of this crap:
News organizations, in the Harris-VandeHei-Allen formulation, are deadweight. Institutional authority, which once defined journalists-"The most important words were what came after your name: ‘I'm John Harris of The Washington Post'"-has increasingly become an indication of mediocrity. "In 2006 we didn't yet know that newspapers were dead," Harris continued, in my conversation with him one afternoon in Politico's Virginia offices. "I think we thought they'd drag on, but the institutional age of newspapers was clearly over. What mattered was the individual talents and reputations of journalists. The best journalists had broken free. The best have their own names. They were carrying the business."
Yes, ok, well—try calling up the White House as "John Harris from Boner Party" and see if anyone will talk to you, John!
Still: revolution! Because Mike Allen links to a lot of stuff, every morning, and everyone who matters reads those links. Just like The Note, back in 1910 or whenever that was a thing people read. Or like Drudge! Or like I.F. Stone!
But Politico is not making money, for anyone—just like... a newspaper? How is this revolutionary, again? It is a couple of blogs—some of them very good!—and Drudge-bait articles offering "attention-grabbing" takes on non-events.
This has worked-sort of. Politico puts its current traffic at 6.7 million unique visitors per month (down from a high of more than 11 million during the campaign), yet it still can't support its staff of about 100 on the Internet's low advertising rates (although, with its agenda-moving audience and its preponderance of advocacy advertisers, it manages to get a higher rate than most sites).
And, weirdly, it makes its money with its little Roll Call-style tabloid physical newspaper! Revolutionary! (If that newspaper is actually making money, yet?)
It is perhaps useless to argue whether this is good or bad. Rather, the world is as it is.
It is perhaps useless to argue whether this article has made a single point, about anything! It is what it is. A stupid article that is full of bullshit about a stupid website that is full of bullshit from a man who should definitely sit down and write that affair story before we lose interest.