Taibbi on Young Journalists

Not that this is an area I ever write about, but Matt Taibbi has a great passage in a piece beating up Matt Bai in which he assails the culture many young, ostensibly liberal, journalists adhere to in a well-charted path to Beltway acceptance and success.

Bai is one of those guys — there are hundreds of them in this business — who poses as a wonky, Democrat-leaning “centrist” pundit and then makes a career out of drubbing “unrealistic” liberals and progressives with cartoonish Jane Fonda and Hugo Chavez caricatures. This career path is so well-worn in our business, it’s like a Great Silk Road of pseudoleft punditry. First step: graduate Harvard or Columbia, buy some clothes at Urban Outfitters, shore up your socially liberal cred by marching in a gay rights rally or something, then get a job at some place like the American Prospect. Then once you’re in, spend a few years writing wonky editorials gently chiding Jane Fonda liberals for failing to grasp the obvious wisdom of the WTC or whatever Bob Rubin/Pete Peterson Foundation deficit-reduction horseshit the Democratic Party chiefs happen to be pimping at the time. Once you’ve got that down, you just sit tight and wait for the New York Times or the Washington Post to call. It won’t be long.

I would just advise any young journalist who is coming up through a liberal magazine or news website to ask themselves if this looks like you. If it does, is it really what you want to be doing? How you want to be seen?  It’s not too late to change.

More importantly, people who read up-and-coming young liberal journalists should read this passage and wonder if it looks like your favorite wonk or pundit. Have they recently defended a top administration official for leaving public service to take a luxuriously compensated job at a big Wall Street bank because, after all, the journalist has never personally seen the former public servant drown a bag of puppies, so they can’t possibly be a bad, greedy person? If so, it’s probably time to stop reading this person, as they will soon be beating up on unreasonable liberals (at least, more than they already do).

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