If you enjoy media-centric navel-gazing as much as I do (that is not snark), you’ll want to read Michael Wolff’s piece on the Politico. I think he mostly gets Politico right: it’s disgustingly inside-the-beltway stuff that is somewhat redeemed by the sheer mania of some of its blogger/reporters (like Ben Smith). There’s one thing I don’t quite agree with, though:
If one of the gravest dangers of politics, and the real rap against the Beltway, is its insiderism, Politico vastly compounds the problem. The propensity of the political class to speak only to itself is enabled to a new degree by Politico. Indeed, the ever more detailed nature of this conversation may mean there’s no time to speak to anyone else. What’s more, since these are the only people who matter—Politico’s 6.7 million monthly visitors include almost all the people who shape the agenda, and a disproportionate number of people who pay for the shaping of the agenda—why bother speaking to everyone else?
Also, you become less and less able. The granular and focused and O.C.D. nature of Politico’s view of the world changes the language. Laymen can’t enter this conversation, and the people who are involved in it can’t leave it—can’t set aside so easily the shorthand of legislative, policy, and media talk or the thousand names of minor characters who become major for a 20-minute news cycle, or recalibrate the relative importance of Washington sound and fury against what most other people are thinking about.
While I agree with this critique of insiderism, it seems silly to discuss the issue without mentioning “The Note”, which began years before the Politico and helped shape the asinine political atmosphere of the 90s and early 2000s. Halperin wrote “The Note” in such a way that only real insiders could understand it; with a little time and a few google searches, you can understand most of what you read in the Politico.
There are all kinds of problems with the Politico, the blatant whoring for Drudge links, the tendency of the second string reporters there to simply reprint GOP press releases, and so on. But it’s helped democratize political navel-gazing. And, since DC’s interest in its own navel has always been its raison d’etre (long before the Politico, probably long before “The Note”), letting more people in on the view is probably a good thing.