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September 08, 2012 10:58 AM The Trajectory of Ezra Klein

By Ryan Cooper

ek.jpg

Ezra Klein has been on the Saturn V path of political punditry followed by many a Washington writer before him. Not even 30 yet (he’s 28) he got his professional start at an internship here at the Monthly and made his way, via the American Prospect, to the tottering-but-still-top-of-The-Establishment Washington Post, becoming their biggest traffic source. There have been some false moves, big scandals, and bitter resentment from jealous older journalists, but the trajectory has still been up and up and up.

Matt Welch of Reason wrote an excellent profile of the guy and his rise recently. Here’s a taste:

Klein adds some new wrinkles to this stock character of Beltway journalism. Whereas his predecessors were exclusively eastern-seaboard, Ivy-League types, Klein is a California kid from the UC system (Santa Cruz and Los Angeles). Instead of launching his career by leveraging connections to the established elite, he built his reputation by blogging loudly, and sharply, into the void. Yesterday’s Kleins earned their fame at The New Republic; today’s model rose to prominence despite avoiding, and occasionally bashing, progressivism’s flagship magazine. With these departures in style, substance, and comportment, Klein’s meteoric young career underscores not only the dynamic transformation of the media business, but changes in liberalism itself.

I’ve been reading Ezra since around 2006 or so, and it’s been interesting to watch the way he has changed as he has gotten more and more successful. Writing-wise, at least, he is almost unrecognizable from those early days. In fact, he barely blogs at all any more—his corner of the Post, Wonkblog, is now largely written by a growing team of four other writers (and is emitting an increasing whiff of BuzzFeed). Ezra seems more about putting out a longer column syndicated across many outlets (including this magazine), and regularly guest-hosting Rachel Maddow’s show. I wager he’ll have his own show inside of a year.

But during this time, he got rather dull. Where Old Ezra once was quick, witty, and not afraid of seeming partisan, New Ezra is bloodless, ponderous, and scrupulously nonpartisan to a fault. In other words, he sounds like a Washington Post writer. Take this column on the Romney campaign, where Old Ezra is doing his damndest to escape from the New Ezra superego:

So at about 1 a.m. Thursday, having read Ryan’s speech in an advance text and having watched it on television, I sat down to read it again, this time with the explicit purpose of finding claims we could add to the “true” category. And I did find one. He was right to say that the Obama administration has been unable to correct the housing crisis, though the force of that criticism is somewhat blunted by the fact that neither Ryan nor Mitt Romney have proposed an alternative housing policy. But I also came up with two more “false” claims. So I read the speech again. And I simply couldn’t find any other major claims or criticisms that were true…
All this is true irrespective of your beliefs as to what is good and bad policy, or which ticket you prefer. Quite simply, the Romney campaign isn’t adhering to the minimum standards required for a real policy conversation. Even if you bend over backward to be generous to them — as the Tax Policy Center did when they granted the Romney campaign a slew of essentially impossible premises in order to evaluate their tax plan — you often find yourself forced into the same conclusion: This doesn’t add up, this doesn’t have enough details to be evaluated, or this isn’t true.
I don’t like that conclusion. It doesn’t look “fair” when you say that. We’ve been conditioned to want to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame, and the fact of the matter is, I would like to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame. I’d personally feel better if our coverage didn’t look so lopsided. But first the campaigns have to be relatively equal. So far in this campaign, you can look fair, or you can be fair, but you can’t be both.

Italics mine. The conclusion is correct, but compare that to Old Ezra reacting to the news that Douglas Feith had resigned:

Doug Feith has quit. Oh happy day! The prime incompetent amid a sea of pretenders, he distinguished himself as an omnipresent voice for incompetence, playing a crucial part in fucking up of the invasion, and occupation, of Iraq.

I don’t want to come off as too harsh on New Ezra. I think he’s still worth reading. I’m happy to see the Post hire non-boneheads. I’m especially happy to see him lever his influence into paying jobs for lots of other journalists, and if I were him, I probably won’t bother too much with working the blog trenches either.

But there’s some interesting comparisons to be made to other leftish writers at his level. Chris Hayes, probably Ezra’s closest comparison, has maintained his social democrat position (far to Ezra’s left) while making it to own-cable-show status. Matt Taibbi is quite possibly more widely read than either of them, but seems to thrive on his outsider, bomb-throwing stance. Or maybe it’s just that neither of them got sucked into the Post vortex.

Welch’s profile concludes on an interesting note:

The great war correspondent Martha Gellhorn had a memorable line about “that usual tedious trajectory from left to right” as writers grow older. One might include in that sentiment the equally predictable earlier-life journey from outsider to insider, from critic to actor. In his 20s, Walter Lippman went from junior Socialist Party agitator to senior Woodrow Wilson functionary. Klein (who says of his early 20s that he “was more liberal then than I am now”) originated from much further outside the bubble, using the disintermediation of technology to vault himself up the totem pole in ways not conceivable a century, or even a decade, ago.
But he has become arguably the prototypical insider in the Age of Obama: confident, cloaked in numbers, assured about the virtues of economic intervention but alarmed by the growing dysfunction of politics. In fact, he is so deep inside now that he’s come to an even more terrifying conclusion about life in The Village than his Netroots compatriots could ever have dreamed: “I’m much more certain that the problems are systemic and the various forms of gatekeeping elites [are] impotent,” he wrote me in a follow-up email to our interview. “And that feeling—that the people in charge aren’t just wrong or bought off, but that, quite often, they fundamentally don’t know what they’re doing—is a bit scary, and fairly radicalizing.”

It seems Old Ezra is still alive and kicking. Let’s just hope he doesn’t end up where David Broder did, the useless “dean” of the Washington press. (Or go work for The New Republic.)

@ryanlcooper

Ryan Cooper is a National Correspondent at The Week, and a former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @ryanlcooper

Comments

  • Leopold Von Ranke on September 08, 2012 12:48 PM:

    The "New Ezra" is actually pretty good. COmes across as more knowledgeable and thoughtful. Better that than a bomb thrower who only speaks to the committed.

    Romney/Ryan lies might well do the trick for them. Remember the fall of 2001 and the spring of 2002. A lot of lies were told then and if one questioned them too loudly one was likely to have been beaten up by a gaggle of true patriots. Most people believed those lies then, and many still do.

  • Judy Martinez on September 08, 2012 12:56 PM:

    Your Post is so true. I've read Ezra's Blog(s) for years, until I stopped a few months ago. Along with the sharp insights expressed bluntly and directly, all the fun hiz gone out of his writing. Remember the days when Ezra used to post fabulous and not-widely-circulated videos as opposed to just lifting something form Wimp? Remember those super recipes he posted ? Ez was a whole human being. All the fun has gone out of him !

  • Diane Rodriguez on September 08, 2012 1:10 PM:

    Interesting post. Thanks Ryan. I wasn't very familiar with Klein's trajectory. Quit reading the Post long ago - the commenters are - yikes.

    Klein and Hayes are both very bright guys. I love that they work hard to understand the big picture and don't just parrot others. I have to confess I prefer Hayes and think he will be the brighter star. Their youth injects a vibrancy into journalism that is missing with many older writers/pundits - not you Charles Pierce.

    The issue I have with both of them is based on the exuberance of youth rather than arrogance - sometimes they just talk too much. They are so excited to share their ideas that sometimes they drown out others.

  • mb on September 08, 2012 1:10 PM:

    "the fact of the matter is, I would like to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame. "

    This is an inexcusable admission by Ezra the WunderPundit, imo. For the past 3.5 years, Ezra has become the apologist for watering down Progressive goals. He was full of sensible reasons why we're not just lucky to get healthcare reform without the public option, but better off because blah, blah, wonky blah, blah, blah. Soon, I expect, Ezra will be pushing some kind of Simpson-Bowles reform.

    I've been kind of 'over' Ezra for a while now, but the above statement pretty much seals it for me. Ezra has been captured by the Center which is, imo, toxic to good journalism.

  • Rich on September 08, 2012 1:13 PM:

    You're a bit too nice and go on a bit too long, while missing a few points.

    I, too, have read Ezra for quite awhile. He clearly is well on his way to WaPo hackdom. He probably won't become David Broder---Broder was always a union-hating, establishment supporting moderate Republican, reflecting his small town Midwestern roots and its managerial version of Progressivism that sought to manage (and dilute) change. The bipartisanship of that movement was basically cover for moderate Republicanism. Ezra is far more likely to turn out like Dana Milbank (who once was able to write and think) or Dan Balz who seeks refuge in his inability to interpret poll numbers. Greg Sargent is probably the one person who has gone to the Post w/o losing his integrity or inadvertently pulling a Froomkin-like suicide of truth telling. At best, Ezra might windup like Michael Kinsley, occasionally thought provoking, but mostly the kind of guy who gets along with trogs like Bill Buckley and edits a zine like Slate filled with TNR second stringers.

    In a certain sense the elite UCs aren't that much different from the IVies or Oberlin. The comparuison with Hayes is apt. Despite being teh child of civil servants, he probably is clueless about the world his parents inhabit, as a product of elite public and private institutions, as well as clubby publications.

  • Neildsmith on September 08, 2012 1:18 PM:

    "...quite often, they fundamentally donít know what theyíre doing"

    Again with the dawning realization that life, politics, and the economy are way to complex to manage. This is the liberal conceit. We are convinced that if we just do this or that, we can make it all better. At best, we can limit the damage and catch those who can't compete in the dog eat dog system we've created with a safety net.

  • square1 on September 08, 2012 1:27 PM:

    Yesterdayís Kleins earned their fame at The New Republic; todayís model rose to prominence despite avoiding, and occasionally bashing, progressivismís flagship magazine.

    Hmmm. Welch seems oblivious to the fact that The New Republic hasn't been "progressivismís flagship magazine" since before Ezra Klein was born. This is a magazine of which its writers would be more inclined to defend Doug Feith than lambaste him.

    IMO, Klein's career is a classic example of the Peter Principle at work: his legitimate competence at blogging about economic issues generally and health care specifically, has allowed him to rise to the level of general pundit and opine general political issues, where he has failed to demonstrate much particular insight.

    A big difference between Taibbi and Klein is that Taibbi routinely demonstrates a profound grasp of what motivates the various players on Wall Street or in D.C. Klein generally lacks that insight. Klein may understand health care policy, but I don't think that he has a particularly great understanding of the politics of health care reform.

    The last quote of Ezra in this post is nonsensical. Kelin says that our political problems are "systemic" but not that our politicians are bought off, as if those are mutually exclusive possibilities.

    The fact is that the systemic failure of the political system is that "pay-for-play" has become institutionalized.

  • Mitt's Magic Underpants on September 08, 2012 1:29 PM:

    Journolist wasn't a scandal. It was a right-wing fantasy, and ever mentioning it just empowers the right wing further.

    The thing about Ezra is that he wants to be liked. He's overly kind and deferential to those who agree to let him interview them. This effectively neuters Ezra.

  • Robert Waldmann on September 08, 2012 1:41 PM:

    I think that the very very young old Ezra was not out there with the Hayes, Taibbi and the young Lippman. He supported the US invasion of Iraq. "We both supported the Iraq war out of an optimistic-liberal hawkishness that I think we both now consider to have" http://wapo.st/OZkGC8

    His style has changed, but he was always to the right of DFHitude even at a time when the DFHs had the only semi sane view on the key issue of the day.

    There is huge massive intellectual territory to the left of the median Washington Post columnist. E Klein and M Taibbi are not more similar than are E Klein and J Klein.

    Note that in the later Bush years everyone who was remotely reality based agreed about most current issues (Bush sucks pretty much sums up everything sensible anyone had to say). So the difference between moderate center lefters like E Klein and B Obama and not so moderate lefties like Taibbi was not obvious. But it was always there.

    Also what's wrong with numbers ? I like numbers (especially 17 and 137).

  • lost coaster on September 08, 2012 1:59 PM:

    Re Klein as Broder II, see http://wordpress.reed.edu/politika/2012/09/03/ezra-klein-and-scholarly-research/

    in which Reed poli sci prof Paul Gronke expresses his hope that Klein is Broder reborn, though he means something different than Atrios does by invoking the Name of the Dean:

    "But Klein is more than just a journalist in my experience, and he shows his academic side in todayís column about a new article by Columbia University economist Michael Woodford. Klein understands political science models that forecast election outcomes. He has defended political science against attempts to defund our research. And he shows up every year at our annual meeting.

    Itís a little early in his career to compare Klein to David Broder, the long time Washington Post columnist who was a longtime member of APSA, regularly attended our meetings, and helped to popularize and legitimize our work.

    But Klein is starting out really well."

    It is startling to see Gronke say that without any apparent awareness of the question this column actually addresses. But his partial blindness points to something deeper about Broder's fetish for bipartisanship - his ties to the political scientists who for generations have done the same.

    But of course when Ezra says

    "the fact of the matter is, I would like to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame. Iíd personally feel better if our coverage didnít look so lopsided."

    That's Being David Broder, close enough. The larger problem is in the next part:

    "But first the campaigns have to be relatively equal. So far in this campaign, you can look fair, or you can be fair, but you canít be both."

    Replace "campaigns" with "parties," and there we are.

  • angler on September 08, 2012 2:01 PM:

    Great piece. Two thoughts.

    1. Ambition is dangerous.

    2. EK's drift to the center is symptomatic of the liberal commentariat and many Dem pols since Obama took office. Take out the dynamics of getting hired by the Washington Post, and you could have written something similar about Josh Marshall, Matt Yglesias, Markos Moulitsas, or Kevin Drum. When GWB was power they generally were much more anti-establishment in tone and argument. Since Nov. 2008 their writing has taken on the tone that MB describes for Klein, telling their progressive readers that it has to be this way and disavowing much of criticism of DC as a system that Klein makes a feeble nod to in the end quote of Ryan's post.

    These bloggers have always been in the Dem mainstream, or the DC Dem mainstream. The truly different part of the recent past was 2000-06 when the crazies looked like they were going to tear down the country some of the party leadership and most of its editorial writers decided to shed triangulation for confrontation. As Dems regained power their militancy waned.

    The weird exception to the rule is Ed Kilgore. In the early 2000s he was much more a DLC hippie basher than he is now.

  • Anonymous on September 08, 2012 2:08 PM:

    Re Klein as Broder II, see http://wordpress.reed.edu/politika/2012/09/03/ezra-klein-and-scholarly-research/

    in which Reed poli sci prof Paul Gronke expresses his hope that Klein is Broder reborn, though he means something different than Atrios does by invoking the Name of the Dean:

    "But Klein is more than just a journalist in my experience, and he shows his academic side in todayís column about a new article by Columbia University economist Michael Woodford. Klein understands political science models that forecast election outcomes. He has defended political science against attempts to defund our research. And he shows up every year at our annual meeting.

    Itís a little early in his career to compare Klein to David Broder, the long time Washington Post columnist who was a longtime member of APSA, regularly attended our meetings, and helped to popularize and legitimize our work.

    But Klein is starting out really well."

    It is startling to see the professor say that without any apparent awareness of the question this column actually addresses. Gronke's partial blindness may reveal something deeper about Broder's fetish for bipartisanship, ratified as it no doubt was by political scientists who explain and valorize conventional political structures and practice.

    But of course when Ezra says

    "the fact of the matter is, I would like to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame. Iíd personally feel better if our coverage didnít look so lopsided."

    That's Being David Broder, close enough. The larger problem is in the next part:

    "But first the campaigns have to be relatively equal. So far in this campaign, you can look fair, or you can be fair, but you canít be both."

    Replace "campaigns" with "parties," and there we are.

  • exlibra on September 08, 2012 2:32 PM:

    [...] the fact of the matter is, I would like to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame. Iíd personally feel better if our coverage didnít look so lopsided. -- Ezra Klein

    I wouldn't hold those wishes and personal feelings against him, as long as, at the end of the day, he comes to the right (as in: correct) conclusion. And he does:
    So far in this campaign, you can look fair, or you can be fair, but you canít be both.

    When he gets to the point where he actually says "both sides lie" but fails to mention that, say, Obama lied once and Romney never once said anything true, *then* I'll have a problem with his reporting/opinionating

  • matt w on September 08, 2012 2:33 PM:

    I think the analysis of the line about "I would like to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame. Iíd personally feel better if our coverage didnít look so lopsided" is somewhat unfair to Ezra. Part of what's changed is his audience; he's trying to reach people who aren't committed liberals, and to whom the Doug Feith quote would come across as bomb-throwing partisanship. To do that, it's better to present yourself as a neutral arbiter giving a verdict on the facts (which he is doing accurately) than as someone who has been committed all along to the idea that the Republicans are wrong.

    That's why the next line about "you can look fair, or you can be fair, but you canít be both" is devastating. He's saying that the facts have a liberal bias. It's easier to do that if you present yourself as trying to give an even-handed presentation of the facts.

  • Linkmeister on September 08, 2012 3:02 PM:

    I think of Ezra and Matt Yglesias as contemporaries, and both have moved away from the snarkiness of their early blogging days. I find that regrettable.

  • jjm on September 08, 2012 3:10 PM:

    I did not follow blogs or Ezra Klein before the last couple of years. I first heard of him, Nate Silver and Chris Hayes when they were guests on the Maddow Show, and found all of them mighty impressive. Facts right at their fingertips (they DO know 'arithmetic'!) and I haven't seen either Ezra or Hayes equivocating on those facts; Nate went off to the NYT so I don't hear so much from him, but I do follow his Tweets and they are always good.

    So, my take on this is that both Klein and Hayes are important, even vital, additions to our national news disourse; they were, in my eyes, among the very first in the media to challenge the GOP's purveying of falsehoods, fiscal phoniness, and obfuscating rhetoric. Along with Maddow, who exposed the AFP/Tea Party/Koch Brothers connection for me, and her exposť of the C Street fanatics should have earned her a Pulitzer.

    And they've been rewarded by the public: MSNBC, which featured Maddow, Hayes, and Klein along with the usual suspects, was the most viewed coverage of the convention.

  • Bluecrab on September 08, 2012 3:47 PM:

    I will never understand why anybody takes this guy seriously when he presumes to talk about economics. An undergraduate degree in poli sci does not qualify you to talk about economic issues. Calling Ezra Klein a "wonk" is a joke - he's less of a wonk than that pathetic poseur Ryan. Read him for political opinion, but for economics, go to somebody who knows what the f*ck they're talking about... like Krugman. Ezra Klein has a hugely overblown reputation. So, Ezra... how does it feel to be Hiatt's token liberal? What was that? I couldn't hear your response... probably because you're doubled over at the waist and clutching both of your ankles.

  • c u n d gulag on September 08, 2012 3:53 PM:

    Once you get that WaPo taint on you, you can't get it off. Only the older Liberals seem not to have been too affected.

    I used to love Ezra's writing, but about two years ago I stopped reading him. He seemed like he's been tamed.

    And I prefer Chris Hayes anyway.

    And unlike Ezra, and so many others, I've gotten MORE liberal as I've grown older.
    But, then, no one's paying ME to write or co-or-host a show, so who the feck knows how I'd react.
    But, who knows?
    After all, the road to Conservatism, like Hell, is paved with good intentions.

  • NealB on September 08, 2012 4:36 PM:

    Ezra's ok. But in terms of tv news show host, he's no Rachel Maddow. Rachel Maddow is no Rachel Maddow either, really, but she comes off that way because she's got a presence and flexibility (and years of broadcast experience) that Ezra will never have. Chris Hayes is another one that's catapulted fairly quickly and I agree with others that find him more likable, just as smart, and just basically more interesting as a personality.

    I remember practice videos Ezra did years ago when he was a blogger. He hasn't really changed much since then, in terms of his presentational style; he's still slightly behind himself, hiding. That's probably never going to change.

  • Lee on September 08, 2012 4:38 PM:

    So, so true! Ezra used to be must read... he's still smart and informed, but he's definitely been sucked into the beltway mindset. It's kind of sad.

  • Steve P on September 08, 2012 4:49 PM:

    In "The Cheyenne Social Club" James Stewart plays a saddlebum who inherits a brothel. Attired in fine brothelowner clothing, he asks old pardner Henry Fonda not to tell anyone that he used to vote Democratic.

  • Cranky Observer on September 08, 2012 5:16 PM:

    = = = Part of what's changed is his audience; he's trying to reach people who aren't committed liberals, and to whom the Doug Feith quote would come across as bomb-throwing partisanship. = = =

    I honestly don't know what these words are supposed to mean. Douglas Feith was one of the most astonishingly incompetent administration officials in the history of the United States, and possibly in the human history of organized government - even deeply conservative military officers said as much (once they felt Cheney no longer had the power to punish them, of course). He caused enormous damage to the United States both at the time and, in my opinion, for the next 50-100 years. If journalists can't openly say that when it is true because he has to cater to people who refuse to honestly discuss such issues because they aren't "committed liberals", what exactly ARE journalists? And how will our nation survive, for that matter?

    Cranky

    eawasti cov - 1st try

  • Rose (fellow upstater) on September 08, 2012 6:16 PM:

    c und gulag, you are so on target!

  • Doug on September 08, 2012 6:44 PM:

    I simply cannot fathom where Mr. Klein got his ideas for his statement: "We've been conditioned to want to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame, and the fact of the matter is, I would like to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame."
    Oh wait, it's right there in the DC Pundits' Manual under "false equivalency; see "he said/he replied"...

  • @rlux on September 08, 2012 6:52 PM:

    I was an early fan of Ezra, but this year I dropped his blog from my regular reading roster. I'm glad to see him succeed, he seems like a good guy, but he has definitely gotten a lot less interesting to read as his star has ascended. Beltway Insider syndrome? Fear of controversy messing up his cushy gigs?

    Assuming that age and financial success don't turn him into a Republican, I woudn't be surprised to see him with an MSNBC show at some point, but he's still far too stiff on camera to be prime time material right now.

  • Col Bat Guano on September 08, 2012 7:14 PM:

    I liked Pandagon/Santa Cruz Ezra a whole lot more.

  • Mark on September 08, 2012 8:36 PM:

    I've been reading Ezra since his college days at pandagon and even then he was considered a bit of a moderate. It has been fun to watch his growth. I hadn't realized he was the Washington Post's #1 traffic source.

    But I disagree with your final sentence. For years it seemed obvious that Ezra was applying for the job of the next Broder and have considered that a good thing. Broder does an amazing job of pushing the entire Washington establishment to the right. Someone who can play the same roll but push the establishment to the left would be of great value to this country and liberalism.

  • matt w on September 08, 2012 9:04 PM:

    Cranky -- it's a matter of tone, mostly. You know that Feith was one of the most incompetent officials ever, I know that, and Ezra Klein knows that -- but pretty much everyone (outside of the military officials who had to deal with that) who knows that already votes Democratic. If you're writing for a general audience, you can't just assume everyone knows that Feith was the fucking stupidest man alive; you have to explain why a bit, in a way that makes it clear that you're not just starting from Democratic premises.

    Which you can see in the way Ezra completely shivved the Romney campaign in the quote we're discussing. I can't believe that some people are taking that quote as false equivalency or he said/she said; Ezra is clearly saying that even non-partisan people should come down on one side rather than the other in this campaign, because the Republicans are lying their faces off. This is the opposite of false equivalence.

    (That's not to say that you should always start from non-partisan premises; on issues where it's a matter of different values, or where there's some reasonable factual dispute, I think a liberal should make clear what their premises are and take the liberal position. But on things like Feith and the Romney/Ryan campaign, where it's simply a matter of objective fact that the liberal position is the right one, you should make that clear.)

    And for the idea that Ezra is a milquetoast Broderite, here's two of his tweets:

    "Wow, really? RT @ChuckGrassley: As Romney speaks notice he is smart enough to do so wo TelePrompTer unlike obama"
    "Note that if Republicans take the Senate, Grassley would be Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee"

    Would Broder ever countenance that? NB the bipartisan fetishists continued to slurp Grassley as a Republican moderate well after Grassley compared telling the truth about the Bush tax cuts to Hitler's tactics; they'd hesitate to point out what a moronic wingnut he is.

  • grandpa john on September 08, 2012 11:51 PM:

    Weíve been conditioned to want to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame, and the fact of the matter is, I would like to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame. Iíd personally feel better if our coverage didnít look so lopsided.
    I call bull on this . I agree with Doug and Cranky. Who has been conditioned to give false equivalency ? certainly not the right wing media.If you let someone brainwash you it's your own damn fault.
    If Klein is truly a journalist he should be conditioned to one thing, the truth, equal praise to keep from hurting someones fee fees is Bull.

    Praise goes to those who have integrity and tell the truth, blame goes to the amoral liars.We know who those are, The chips fall where ever they fall. If as a journalist you can't put truth first, if you can't call out those who lie, then you have no more integrity or character than those who do the lying, and cheating.

  • bluestatedon on September 09, 2012 7:09 AM:

    "the fact of the matter is, I would like to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame."

    This reminds me of the mind-boggling statement by Jim McNeil that his objective was to present both sides of an argument in a fair, equitable manner. These attitudes go to the heart of why mainstream journalism is so thoroughly useless in this country.

  • Bob h on September 09, 2012 9:01 AM:

    Soon enough we will read in the Post that Epzra and his wife have made a down payment on a $3.9 million home in DC?

  • Bloix on September 09, 2012 9:50 AM:

    Young Ezra was worth reading for one reason: health care. He actually read the bills, debates, and academic analysis, and reported on the content of the alternative proposals concisely and accurately. No one else in the media did that. Okay, his snarky style was entertaining but snark is easy and there are plenty of writers who are more entertaining. His value-added was health care.

    Now he's a generic political reporter. His blog is a wasteland - none of the others have an authentic voice and they're too timid or ignorant to do more than say, "here's an interesting factoid!" - which often appears to be some bullshit that's been fed to them by a flack.

    He has some useful skills. He's an excellent interviewer on paper, and he's got the potential to become one on TV. But he doesn't stand out from the pack any more.

    Keep in mind that Ezra is from a modest middle-class background. He's a hard worker and a handsome and personable guy. What he's doing now is making a career for himself.

  • FlipYrWhig on September 09, 2012 11:49 AM:

    Near the end of the thread, finally some old-timers from blogospheric days of yore showed up. Not many people remember that, before Amanda Marcotte came on board, Pandagon had added a new guy, who the readership would rail against for being too wishy-washy and not a real progressive, and that was Ezra Klein. I don't know about this narrative of rightward drift because he was being tagged as not all that left already 8 years ago.

  • Cranky Observer on September 09, 2012 1:12 PM:

    matt w,
    I am fully congnizent of your counter-argument; I just think it is wrong. And deadly dangerous for the long-term future of our nation (although Cheney & Bush did so much damage to that it may be too late).

    Cranky

    and JavaLit - 1st try

  • Bloix on September 09, 2012 1:56 PM:

    "we will read in the Post that Ezra and his wife have made a down payment on a $3.9 million home"

    Although nastier than I would have been, this is actually spot on. Ezra has made a very good marriage - he married up, as they used to say - and he and his wife are on their way to becoming DC media royalty.

  • drinkof on September 10, 2012 8:49 AM:

    Klein was interesting enough, never essential reading, but certainly worth reading back in the day. This article reminded me mostly that, though still on my bookmark set, I invariably skip by him these days, and that I needed to drop his in favor of somebody more interesting.

  • Aaron B. Brown on November 25, 2012 9:48 AM:

    Only a complete idiot who hasn't followed Ezra's career would ever describe him as a 'bomb thrower', in any way, shape or sense of the word.

    For years I had always wished Ezra would throw a bomb or two, but he's just not that kind of guy, apparently.

    That said, I preferred it over when he was a blogger, before you became part of the establishment, but hey he has mortgage payments to make, and in the media business you either sell your soul, or you don't eat. Sadly.