Friday, March 8, 2024

"Better than Ezra"

Like Frank Bruni, Ezra Klein is a good soldier. I doubt that deep down Klein believes that we really need to seriously entertain claims of warehouses full of alien bodies and football field sized spaceships acquired by the government through a conspiracy involving Mussolini, the Five Eyes spy network, and the Vatican, but the New York Times put its reputation behind these loons and good soldiers do not let their papers look bad.

Even when it means taking one for the unit.

Many years ago, an old newspaperman told me how he came to write an editorial supporting (if memory serves) Senator John L. McClellan in the pre-merger Arkansas Democrat. Neither he nor any of the other editors were for McClellan but the paper had endorsed him and it looked bad having the paper not run a single editorial backing the man. This was, the editor admitted to me, a violation of the code of conduct but he decided it was worth it to help the paper avoid more embarrassment.

I don't think that Klein went through the same thought process, but his recent piece suggesting that Biden should step down was definitely a case of the writer backing the narrative at the cost of his own reputation. 

As I said at the time.

[Josh] Marshall is a common ground kind of guy so it is unusual for him to go after a colleague, particularly in one as respected as Klein without conceding that at least one or two secondary points have some merit, but he's not giving any ground here ("No. Ezra Klein is Completely Wrong. Here’s Why.")and quite rightly so.  Barring a few examples from writers with obvious ideological axes to grind, this may be the worst piece of political analysis I have ever seen from the New York Times, a paper which in recent memory has told us that Obama was toast in 2012, Trump couldn't possibly get the nomination in 2016, DeSantis was unstoppable in 2022, and Nikki Haley was building up real momentum in late 2023.

Lots of veteran political observers seconded Marshall's points.

Fast forward to last night, when part of the reaction to a forceful and energetic State of the Union speech were some comments suggesting that Klein's piece hadn't held up that well.

Even Alex Thompson, national political correspondent at @Axios joined in which has really got to sting.

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