Congratulations, leftist internet! Today marks the first time that Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall's little political blog that could, handles the in-town White House pool report. They grow up so fast.
As Politico noted last month, the White House Correspondents' Association, which runs the White House pool—a resource-sharing arrangement whereby all the news organizations that are supposed to bodily cover the president during all his waking hours rotate their reporters in shifts and share their notes with everybody else—has started letting Talking Points Memo, Salon, and the Huffington Post share in the pool duty. That's a major shift considering the fact that the pool report has historically been a just-the-facts-ma'am recounting of detail (with the occasional insider joke thrown in) that can be served up to all sorts of newspapers. Throwing avowedly partisan web sites into the mix is, well, interesting.
Christina Bellatoni, a senior reporter for Talking Points Memo's Washington, D.C., bureau, is today's designated pooler, marking TPM's first time in the regular rotation (she hasn't filed any reports yet). She also filled in for Salon's Mike Madden as the travel pooler on Friday, offering this accounting of Obama's day:
Travel photo lid called. We're thankful.
First Lady's Christmas tree event is open press.
(I'm filling in for Salon, who has the day off).
Predictable liberal cant.
Salon has been in the pool rotation since January (Mike Madden has drawn the coveted Dec. 31 shift), and the Huffington Post (next up on Dec. 20) and TPM were both added in the last month. Whatever issues may surround letting outspoken Obama supporters serve as purportedly objective chroniclers of his daily routine, the main motivation for the White House Correspondents' Association in opening the door to them appears to be manpower: As newspapers close or consolidate their Washington operations, Politico's Michael Calderone noted, web upstarts are there to take over shifts from overworked ink-and-paper types.
It's a good thing that non-institutional web-based outlets have continued to infiltrate the heart of the D.C. journalistic establishment, but there's something strange about the idea of the Obama Administration becoming a playground for people who support his policies. Not that we want Michelle Malkin writing pool reports to balance things out, but—actually, we really would like to see Michelle Malkin writing pool reports. That would be fantastic.
When we asked Salon's editor in chief Joan Walsh how long Salon had been pulling pool duty, she replied, "Certainly we were not in the pool during the Bush administration."
Gosh, why not?