The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Alex Pareene: Expert on Hackdom

Posted on | November 23, 2010 | 3 Comments

Takes one to know one:

These are the most predictable, banal, intellectually dishonest and all-around hacky newspaper columnists, cable news shouting heads and political opinion-mongers working today. . . . We cut the list down to 30 people whose continued employment most baffles us, and then we ranked them in order of shamelessness.

When I think of a “hack,” I think of someone who habitually pushes second-hand partisan talking points or, alternately, an untalented writer who recycles cliches. Either way, it is the lack of originality that defines genuine hackery.

We’ll wait to see the full list before assessing how well Pareene has ranked these pundits. But right off the bat, I’m perplexed by this question: Exactly how the hell does Pareene — who has never done anything except sling snark from the sidelines — presume to apply the label “hack” to a political reporter like Matt Bai? And what the hell kind of criticism is this?

[Bai’s] sins are largely the sins of most professional campaign reporters. . . Because he covers campaigns, he privileges campaigns . . . as the single most important factor in deciding elections.

Excuse me? Is Pareene trying to say that campaigns are a secondary factor in deciding elections? Has Pareene ever done any reporting himself? Does he think that campaign reporters — i.e., the journalists most directly acquainted with the facts on the ground — should be disqualified from offering analyses of elections?

Bai has done some excellent work for the New York Times, including a very informative pushback against the Left’s absurd claim that Democrats lost because of moderate “Blue Dogs.” Having covered several Republican candidates (including Morgan Griffith and Ray McKinney) who were campaigning against incumbent Blue Dogs, I fully understand how valuable such centrists were to Democratic Party control of Congress. If Pareene doesn’t understand that, it’s his problem, not Matt Bai’s.

And why is Howard Kurtz No. 23 on the list? If Kurtz is not the best “inside media” reporter in the country, who is?


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