What's Beef?

By Adam Serwer

[A. Serwer]


Dana Milbank debates Nico Pitney on Howard Kurtz's Reliable Sources. Milbank can barely bring himself to respect Pitney as a person, let alone a journalist: according to Pitney, Milbank called him a "dick" while Kurtz was promoting another segment.

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I've already written about what I think of this whole matter--the White House notifying Pitney they intended to call on him in advance would have been offensive if it had been, as Milbank put it, "colluding with the administration" in order to advance their agenda. But that didn't happen, because president dodged Pitney's question of under what conditions it would recognize and Ahmadinejad victory in Iran. The point of "colluding" would have been to make the President look good--and that was neither Pitney's goal nor the ultimate outcome.


What strikes me though, is that Milbank is actually probably the least likely champion of traditional print journalism. His columns are all tone and humor, they offer very little original or significant information. Milbank is not document diving or sneaking into veterans hospitals to find mold on the walls and cockroaches taking over the building--not that he necessarily has to be, we can't all be Dana Priest. But by nature, Milbank's columns are meant more to be entertaining than informative, they draw on reporting from his colleagues at the Washington Post, and they're 90% snark. The only thing that really separates Milbank from the stereotypical blogger is that he writes for the Washington Post and he wears a suit. I think that's actually what bothers him the most about Pitney in particular and bloggers in general. I'm not of the opinion that bloggers make old school shoe-leather reporters obsolete. Not by a long shot. But someone like Milbank? He's a rotary phone. And I think he knows it. 





This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/06/whats-beef/20271/