Training Day

Veteran TPM reporter Evan McMorris-Santoro is WIN THE MORNING, Jr’s new White House correspondent, which may be the journalistic equivalent of Commander Honor Harrington showing up at Basilisk Station (or at least Jimmy McNulty getting busted down to patrolling the Baltimore docks.)  At the very least, Evan is aware of the mess he’s in, putting him up on about 97% of the rest of the people in the room about 2 PM most weekday afternoons.

Although often thought of as the most prestigious beat in political journalism, the White House is increasingly seen as a newsless land of “stenographers” — a dead end for young, ambitious reporters hoping to carve out a niche, and a constant target of criticism by the partisan public. Veteran members of the White House press corps bristle at the criticisms, even as they acknowledge the beat has lost some of its allure as the obstacles have increased.

Welcome to the NFL, rookie.

Well-crafted analysis is often the best an enterprising reporter can do. The administrations of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama earned reputations for granting exceptionally little access to the press in an effort to tightly control the news cycles. That reality has been in place long enough to make its way even into fictional representations of the job.

True.  You know, like Breitbart.  Pretty fictional there.

What’s more, McClatchy’s Steve Thomma, incoming president of the White House Correspondents Association, said the nature of the beat makes it a magnet for criticism by both fans and antagonists of whoever occupies Oval Office.

“There’s no doubt that partisans feel the White House press corps should be tougher when the other party has the presidency,” he said. “In the Bush years, liberals wanted the press corps to be more aggressive. And now it’s the opposite.”

So you guys are cool with Ed Henry then.  Awesome.  At least he’s getting a bead on the neighbors, who have been living here since forever.  If even the McClatchy guy is treating the daily brief like SSDD, this should be fun.  Oh and Evan, I don’t envy you.  Lord knows if you ever get to ask a question, don’t make a Chuck Toddler Special.

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63 replies
  1. 1
    donnah says:

    Maybe Evan’s been watching House of Cards, where all the smart young journalists hate the dead end White House gig and rely on leaks from wily, corrupt House members. *wink*

  2. 2
    BGinCHI says:

    Welcome to the NFL Arena Football, rookie.

  3. 3
    Viva BrisVegas says:

    @donnah:

    all the smart young journalists hate the dead end White House gig and rely on leaks from wily, corrupt House members. *wink*

    And the kinky sex with wrinkly old men is a perk of the job.

  4. 4
    JPL says:

    Maybe Evan should call Gene Sperling to get some advice.

  5. 5
    Tyro says:

    I guess my question is what kind of “news” do these reporters expect to have access to that’s so important? They will attend a briefing, a president or his staff will make an announcement, and the news will be reported, regardless of whether the individual reporter is physically present there or not. Even if a reporter gets a “leak” telling him what the announcement is ahead of time, who really cares? In 5 minutes, everyone will know that same information, anyway.

  6. 6
    eric says:

    @Tyro: you get access to sally quinn.

  7. 7

    @eric: from Sally’s own memoirs, that’s not much of an accomplishment, you know.

  8. 8
    syphonblue says:

    Liberals wants the press corps to go easier on the Administration? What liberals? Where are these liberals that want a further neutered press corps?

  9. 9
    dmsilev says:

    Commander Honor Harrington showing up at Basilisk Station

    Am I outing myself as a hopeless nerd because I got that reference immediately?

  10. 10
    eric says:

    @soonergrunt (mobile): neither is asking Jay Carney whether the president is [fill in the blank], but someone has to do the rote work.

  11. 11
    NCSteve says:

    @dmsilev: Doesn’t that kinda make David Gregory Pavel Young?

  12. 12
    Violet says:

    Why take the job if he’s just going to whine about it? Do the best job you can and STFU or don’t take the job. I don’t care if his job is “hard” because the White House administrations don’t hand out news scoops like candy. Maybe he should go do something else, you know, like work on his feet for 29 hours a week (no benefits!) at Wal-Mart, or work construction with Mexican immigrants (also without benefits). Then he can get back to us about how “hard” his job is.

  13. 13
    akaka says:

    OT, a quick question for anyone who gets the WaPo. Do Jennifer Rubin’s “articles” ever appear in the print edition?
    thanks

  14. 14

    ‘Partisan Public’ = People who think politics is not a game.

  15. 15
    BGinCHI says:

    I badly want to work “anti-feminist hatecunt” into this conversation (see last night’s thread) but I can’t figure out how.

  16. 16
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    @NCSteve: Then doesn’t that make Rupert Murdoch Lord North Hollow?

  17. 17
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @BGinCHI: Use it like cudlip.

  18. 18
    eric says:

    @BGinCHI: that is easy….by taking the white house gig, he now gets to work shoulder-to-shoulder that most infamous of antifeminist hatecunts, ed henry. see.

  19. 19
    BGinCHI says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: @eric:

    The advice here is way better than Car Talk.

  20. 20
    Humanities Grad says:

    @Ivan Ivanovich Renko:

    If you carry that line of thinking out far enough, you wind up with some REALLY weird scenarios.

    David Broder as Queen Elizabeth Winton, anyone?
    David Petraeus as Earl White Haven?
    The Tea Party as the people of the Silesian Confederacy?
    Pat Robertson and the other Talibangelicals would be the Masadans, of course.

    You can’t really line Barack Obama up with anyone, since the Star Kingdom of Manticore is a parliamentary democracy.

  21. 21
    Avery Greynold says:

    “The Boys on the Bus” by Timothy Crouse, 1973, pins the taming of the White House press corps on the Nixon Administration. If you haven’t read the book, it’s a fun read, especially the parts involving Hunter Thompson. For decades, it was required reading in college courses in both politics and journalism.

  22. 22
    handsmile says:

    Ick. The article reeked of bad faith: an exercise in humble-bragging. I rather suspect that the terms of employment for Mr. McMorris-Santoro are not those of indentured servitude, so one must wonder why such an “young, ambitious journalist” would agree to accept such a compromised position. Surely there are hundred of American journalists, especially in an era of media consolidations and layoffs, who would find the White House beat to be sufficiently “alluring” and “prestigious.”

    Yet the article did provide valuable insight: the NYT’s feckless Peter Baker explained his career motive: “It’s only stenography if you choose it to be.” He also heedlessly revealed the corpse of his and his colleagues’ professional integrity: “But if we can’t make the president of the United States an interesting story, then we’re not trying hard enough.”

    Personality, not policy, is how they define success. And they don’t even notice the stench.

  23. 23
    piratedan says:

    @dmsilev: nope, not at all, treecat not included…..

  24. 24
    Rustydude says:

    @dmsilev – Am I outing myself as a hopeless nerd because I got that reference immediately?

    I got it too, although I have to admit I burned out on this series pretty quickly. I can deal with a right wing author (seems like all sci fi writers are nutters, btw), but as soon as it was revealed that she was a genetically altered super being from conception, the series jumped the shark for me.

  25. 25
    Auntie F. Hatecunt (aka Joey Maloney) says:

    @BGinCHI: Yeah, that would be a great idea.

  26. 26
    Roger Moore says:

    @syphonblue:

    Where are these liberals that want a further neutered press corps?

    I’m pretty sure these are the same liberals who believe that government is always the solution and taxes should always be higher. They’re the liberals who always want the exact opposite of what the Conservatives want. IOW, they’re the ones found only in the Conservative imagination.

  27. 27
    piratedan says:

    @Humanities Grad: nope… gotta disagree, those appear to be off…

    Maybe the New Men would be a better fit for the Tea Party faction since they’re set up as part of the Conservative Alliance….

    Broder would be some Solarian League media foof

    not sure that Petraeus has the same political acumen of White Haven but hey, there are some parallels there, I concede that…..

    nice to know that there are so many other Weber fans amongst the constituency

  28. 28
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Rustydude: I can deal with a right wing author (seems like all sci fi writers are nutters, btw)

    David Gerrold, Harlan Ellison, Chip Delaney, Adam-Troy Castro, Cat Rambo, C.J. Cherryh…the list of counterexamples is endless. I will say that within writers of a certain subgenre of military sf/space opera, you’re more likely to run into Libertoonian and/or social conservative attitudes, but there are plenty of exceptions there as well.

  29. 29

    @Rustydude: most sci-fi characters of the last couple of decades have been thinly veiled Mary Sues, especially the military-themed ones.
    Get a look at a picture of “Daffyd ab Hugh” sometime.

  30. 30
    Samuel Knight says:

    Funny, the White House press corps whiners have the cause and effect reversed. People think they are a bunch of stenographers who don’t understand anything – mainly because they are a bunch of stenographers who don’t understand anything.

    They choose not to call agencies and learn what’s going. They choose just to do he said /she said. They choose to ask inane embarrassing questions. They choose to treat Faux News and other proganda outfits as sister news organizatoins.

    It’s a joke because you made it so. If you want to change it – well start now.

  31. 31
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    “In the Bush years, liberals wanted the press corps to be more aggressive. And now it’s the opposite.”

    The things I learn about myself from Village Status Preservation Society.

    Surely there are hundred of American journalists, especially in an era of media consolidations and layoffs, who would find the White House beat to be sufficiently “alluring” and “prestigious.”
    I imagine just in the various NBC organizations there are fifty or sixty people in their twenties who started out on their high school paper, worked for years to get internships and crafted their writing and/or camera styles only to see Lukey Russert given one of the most prestigious slots in journamalism, and they pray every summer that up at the Vinyard he has a fifteenth gin and tonic and slips off the deck of the twenty foot sailboat he got for graduation.

  32. 32
    Luthe says:

    @Humanities Grad:

    David Broder as Queen Elizabeth Winton, anyone?

    What kind of crack are you on? Michelle Obama is Queen Elizabeth, obvs.

    Broder is Steadholder Mueller.

  33. 33
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tyro:

    I guess my question is what kind of “news” do these reporters expect to have access to that’s so important?

    They’re hoping to be on the scene when a presidential assassination happens. Until then, they’re just marking time.

  34. 34
    different-church-lady says:

    So many things I had to Google just to get through the first paragraph…

  35. 35
    slag says:

    What’s more, McClatchy’s Steve Thomma, incoming president of the White House Correspondents Association, said the nature of the beat makes it a magnet for criticism by both fans and antagonists of whoever occupies Oval Office.

    “There’s no doubt that partisans feel the White House press corps should be tougher when the other party has the presidency,” he said. “In the Bush years, liberals wanted the press corps to be more aggressive. And now it’s the opposite.”

    How do you cover this process long enough to become the “president of the White House Correspondents Association” and still not have a clue as to what drives it? Liberals and Republicans have different priorities. We care about very different things. The level of “aggressiveness” is irrelevant in this context. Really…get better at your goddamned job, Steve Thomma!

    Stupid people are stupid.

  36. 36
    NCSteve says:

    @Humanities Grad: Gonna have to agree that Michelle is Queen Elizabeth. Don’t forget to add Bryan Fischer to the Masadans. Tea Party? Solarian Office of Frontier Security and their puppets in the Verge.

  37. 37
    rachel says:

    @Joey Maloney
    Don’t forget Lois Bujold and John Scalzi.

    soonergrunt (mobile)

    Get a look at a picture of “Daffyd ab Hugh” sometime.

    Never again!

  38. 38
    Joey Maloney says:

    @rachel: I’ll see your Bujold and Scalzi and raise you a Cory Doctorow and Ursula K. LeGuin :-)

  39. 39
    Ash Can says:

    I love how the first (and pretty much only) comment at the end of the linked article basically says, “Well, if you were to get up off your lazy whining ass and actually do some journalistic WORK for a change, maybe there’d be a little more to your job than you seem to think.”

  40. 40
    Roger Moore says:

    @Rustydude:

    seems like all sci fi writers are nutters, btw

    Some, but not all. Fiction in general is an excuse for the author to create the world as they think it ought to be, which tends to attract people who are unhappy with the world as it is. Fantasy and Science Fiction are on the extreme edge of the creating your own world end of things, so they’re even more attractive. But there are plenty of more liberal authors who want to write from a more liberal POV. They aren’t always writing about pleasant futures, but their dystopias are generally the flip side of right wingnuts’ utopias. See, for example, The Handmaid’s Tale or The Postman.

  41. 41
    SamR says:

    @dmsilev: I started trying to figure out who Scotty Tremaine would be in this scenario.

  42. 42
    Xantar says:

    I remember at least two instances in which Evan McMorris-Santoro spectacularly misinterpreted a poll, so I can’t say I’m too broken up over the fact that his career might be going nowhere. He didn’t make much of a contribution to TPM in my estimation.

  43. 43
    Paul in KY says:

    @Avery Greynold: I think what really tamed them was moving into the tax brackets that the Republican overlords inhabit.

  44. 44
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Ash Can: Exactly. The left hates the WH press corps because the premise for every question is a Republican talking point.

    The very first question in today’s WH briefing was about the optics of Obama meeting with Republicans to play nice, while OFA is criticizing them for intransigence. That was followed by the hacks asking if the President speaking at OFA’s founding party sends the wrong message. It’s all Republican framing.

    The Village’s willful misrepresentation of the sequester and its effects is shameful. They’re willing to watch the country burn in order to settle the score for some perceived personal slight. Fucking hacks.

  45. 45
    piratedan says:

    while Weber is adored by some, I don’t think you can make the case that he’s a nutter (Ringo, however…) just because the folks that enjoy the Military sci-fi scenarios are mostly on the right side. He writes to multiple scenarios that interest him that examine multiple political scenarios as well as war game tactical stuff……

  46. 46
    Humanities Grad says:

    @piratedan:

    At his best, Weber’s a skilled writer. He’s developed an intriguing universe, which isn’t easy, and he can do a good job with characterization for characters that he cares about, or who he wants his readers to like.

    There’s no doubt, though, that he’s got a very strong libertarian streak (in Scalzi’s brilliant essay “I Hate Your Politics,” he describes libertarianism as “the official ideology of science fiction writers,” and I’ve always suspected that Weber was one of the people he was referring to). And his treatment of the political characters (as opposed to the military officers) always rubbed me the wrong way. Weber’s hardly alone in this, of course, but his politicians, particularly the “liberal” ones, have always tended to be one- or two-dimensional, stereotyped caricatures. It gets annoying after a while, and while I did follow the series very closely for several years, I finally quit about seven books in.

  47. 47
    El Cid says:

    Under Republican administrations, any question tending toward “journalism” is seen as “aggressive,” whereas under Democratic administrations it seems that the press corpses recognize only weirdo right wing and even flatly created accusations as “aggressive”.

  48. 48
    JustRuss says:

    . “In the Bush years, liberals wanted the press corps to be more aggressive. And now it’s the opposite.”

    This liberal would be plenty happy to see the press get more aggressive, but in regards to policy, please, not more “both sides do it” and who’s hurting who’s fee-fees.

  49. 49
    Tom says:

    Unfortunately, yes!

  50. 50
    piratedan says:

    @Humanities Grad: would disagree with that to a degree, one of the characters, Cathy Montaigne is a “liberal” portrayed as a full fledged character, find her to be quite Pelosi-ish tbh… Then again, it’s a long winded series and as such, populated by so many characters it does boggle the mind regarding the attention he gives to them all. If you want a more hawkish example, Ringo stands out but he also has a direct counterpart in Eric Flint.

  51. 51
    Tom says:

    “OT, a quick question for anyone who gets the WaPo. Do Jennifer Rubin’s “articles” ever appear in the print edition?”

    Unfortunately, yes!

  52. 52
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @Viva BrisVegas: I would have sex with Kevin Spacey.

  53. 53
    imonlylurking says:

    @Humanities Grad: I’ve been skimming the last few-not because of the May Sue or the uni-dimensional writing, but because Weber has developed what I call Marion Zimmer Bradley Syndrome-all of his words are so precious that none of them can ever be cut. So you get to hear twenty times in one book about how honorable the good people are and how evil the bad people are, and all about the specialness of Tree Cats, and blah blah blah. Every decision is preceded by several paragraphs of agonizing about how hard it is to make the right decision.

    Dude needs an editor, stat.

    (And nobody has mentioned David Brin, Sheri Tepper, or Elizabeth Moon!)

  54. 54
    gene108 says:

    “In the Bush years, liberals wanted the press corps to be more aggressive. And now it’s the opposite.”

    If by aggressive, you mean call a lie a lie and a person, who tells lies a liar you maybe onto something?

    You know, if the media did its job to report facts, the public support needed to venture off into Iraq wouldn’t have materialized. There was gobs of information available to show Bush, Jr. was full of it.

  55. 55
    Rustydude says:

    @piratedan:

    Re: Weber… after the 4th or 5th reference of how the main character enjoyed lower taxation in each book I read, it was a little difficult to picture the author’s political views as anything but right of center. There were other tip offs, too, none of which I remember at this late date.

    Earlier comment about all sci-fi writers being nutters was hyperbole. Not a good comment on my part. But I do like some of the explanations here so maybe it wasn’t all bad.

  56. 56
    NCSteve says:

    @NCSteve: Roger Ailes is Dmitri Young, Lord North Hollow.

  57. 57
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    @dmsilev: be comforted, you are not the only one.

  58. 58
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @dmsilev: Where are the lefty protestors demanding answers for her collateral damage?

    ///

  59. 59
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Joey Maloney: Even William Shatner, who at least bills himself as a science fiction author (TEK, and some ST books too, of course he used ghost writers, but the shitty characterization in those books fits the work of his fine Canadian hand), is a big old lefty.

    And how about the Haldemans? (The Forever War, etc.) Defs not wingnuts.

  60. 60
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Rustydude: Wow, you know I never noticed his politics, but when he tried to work the Society for Creative Anachronism into one of his books (and portray them as being a truly important Keeper Of The Light instead of rednecks goofing off) that was a bridge too far for me.

    Plenty of wingnuts in the SCA, too, despite the kind of ‘libertine’ image. Maybe I mean libertarians. Though I knew a number of evangelical Christians who were deeply involved! And a wingnut Catholic. Despite having a lot of friends involved and being a giant geek myself (cosplaying at anime cons, for example) I still don’t “get” it. I think the fake fighting really turns me off… and the prevalence of creepers. At anime cons the creepers seem to congregate in the game rooms for days on end and leave every else alone. Well, there was that grown man who wandered around Otakon one year with a handmade Asuka shirt which stated that God had never created a more perfect woman… btw, Asuka dies at age 14. But he was a big fat neckbeard and everyone male and female was giving him wide berth. In SCA everyone will pretend the biggest creep+loser there is just a really great guy.

    SCA’s very local so I’m sure my attitude is colored by the local group. :( Two different guys in there victimized a friend of mine. And their friends stood by and let it happen. No, facilitated.

  61. 61
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Rustydude: What got me was her special psychic cat. Kind of more Herald-Mage than space opera. It was kind of Mary Sue but not overwhelmingly so and besides… giant space battles. :D

  62. 62
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @soonergrunt (mobile): How can you paint all scifi with the brush of Daffyd ab Hugh? I find that massively unfair. Btw, his pen name is misspelled. I think that’s like the cherry on top of his sad little life.

  63. 63
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @imonlylurking: Of course I thought immediately of Moon but don’t know her politics. (Octavia Butler, otoh…)

    Forget MZB, I think Anne Rice has worked very hard to make herself the poster author for getting too big a head and name to be edited but needing that editor so, so badly.

    When her last book was savaged by former fans on Amazon as a rambling mess she took to the site using her confirmed real name announcing to her detractors: You are interrogating this text from the wrong perspective.

    Comedy GOLD!

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