Signs of life at the Washington Post

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

When the Washington Post hired Greg Sargent a few months ago, I wrote this about Sargent:

He has demonstrated both an understanding of many of the ways political reporting has failed its consumers, and a willingness to write about it -- a rare combination among professional journalists, as Bob Somerby frequently points out.

Here's a good example of that: On Friday, Sargent called attention to the odd disparity in David Broder's level of outrage about Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

It's hard to overstate how revered the Washington Post's David Broder is among the Establishment media. He's known as the "dean" of the Washington Press corps; he has won the Pulitzer; he has been described as the best and most respected political reporter in the country.

Needless to say, Washington Post reporters simply do not publicly criticize David Broder. When he was at the Post, Jim VandeHei (now at Politico) described him as "the best of the best." Post reporter Chris Cillizza placed Broder alongside the late David Halberstam as "titans of journalism." In short, your typical Post reporter is probably more likely to ask Broder for his autograph than to question his perspective.

Which isn't to say Broder's work doesn't deserve criticism; it often does. (Those interested in examples can find plenty in a column I wrote two years ago examining Broder's inconsistencies and shortcomings.) But he doesn't get that criticism from his peers and colleagues -- many of whom reflexively agree with his narrow Establishment views. Others probably just don't want step on any toes.

In light of that, Sargent's post on Friday is a reminder that his hiring is one of the more encouraging moves the Post has made in years.

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