Politico's co-founder John F. Harris and senior editor Jonathan Martin have penned a lucid and reasoned Election Day lament cataloging all the horrible ways that they, themselves, personally, through their publication Politico, have disfigured American political journalism. Apology accepted, guys!
Harris and Martin's story, arguing that every participant in the 2010 election process will need to "take a shower" after it's all over, was the site's top offering on Election Day morning, a sort of bitter digestif to top off the foul meal that has been the mid-terms:
A dynamic that has been building for a generation - political incentives that reward bombast, penalize spontaneity and intellectual candor, and summon the most mean-spirited angels of our nature - blossomed in 2010 as never before.
These out-of-whack incentives fostered a "media-saturated political culture [that] steered the campaign toward triviality and distraction," resulting in more stories about marginal bed-hopping Christian ladybug Christine O'Donnell than Social Security. The low point of the trend they write, was when Time magazine included O'Donnell on a cover with other GOP upstarts under the headline "Can they govern?", falsely giving the impression that O'Donnell—who has no chance of winning—might have a shot.
OK! So let's start with: There is no better (and worse!) practitioner of the dynamic of which Martin and Harris speak than Martin and Harris and their colleagues at Politico. Don't you hate it when publications "steer campaigns toward triviality and distraction"? Us too! WHICH IS WHY WE HATED IT WHEN POLITICO:
- Accused Obama of speaking to black audiences in code,
- Speculated that Roger Ailes would run for president
- Accused the White House of promoting vodka because it "favorited" a P. Diddy "tweet" on one of its Twitter feeds,
- Listed the people who had publicly supported both Obama and Roman Polanski,
- Devoted a story to Obama's disturbing habit of touching people,
- Cut and pasted a GOP press release into a story,
- Explored the lack of options for an appropriate venue for the president of the United States to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11 because well, you know,
- Claimed there was a "big to-do" over Obama not wearing his wedding ring at a press conference,
- Published a detailed inventory of a press aide to Rep. Betsy Markey's weekend food intake,
- Called Democrats trying to influence the health care bill the "Drama Queen Caucus,"
- Accused Obama of trying to "marginalize his critics" by arguing against them,
- Admitted they have literally no fucking clue how the White House actually works.
It's kind of like Scott Stapp complaining about all the shitty music on the radio.
And as for the wisdom of including hopeless candidates on a list of potential future GOP leaders, agreed. Which is why we're sure Politico will stop writing, right now, about Sarah Palin, a civilian reality show star with no official portfolio who will never, ever, become president of the United States.
[Photo of Jonathan Martin via Getty]