We’re going to admit something here, before the New York Times Magazine news article about Washington webzine sweatshop “The Politico” changes the very nature of Time/Space: We do not read Mike Allen’s daily email, and we don’t look at the Politico unless we absolutely have to — like, say, when a hundred readers keep sending the same link every two minutes, which is an Important Bat Signal for certain editors who lack the masochistic streak necessary for actually looking at political blogs.
So when we glanced at this hysterical single-paragraph excerpt from the NYT last night, we wondered, “Is this the same dumb collection of wire story ledes and birthday announcements and inconsequential chatter we saw, those few times we opened the Mike Allen email?”
Before he goes to sleep, between 11 and midnight, Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, typically checks in by e-mail with the same reporter: Mike Allen of Politico, who is also the first reporter Pfeiffer corresponds with after he wakes up at 4:20. A hyperactive former Eagle Scout, Allen will have been up for hours, if he ever went to bed. Whether or not he did is one of the many little mysteries that surround him. The abiding certainty about Allen is that sometime between 5:30 and 8:30 a.m., seven days a week, he hits ‘send’ on a mass e-mail newsletter that some of America’s most influential people will read before they say a word to their spouses.
So we dug up yesterday’s Politico email from the gmail trash, deleted unread like so many mass-mailed things that clog the Wonkette tips box, and we opened it.
The items, in order from top to bottom:
- A cut-and-paste paragraph from a Reuters bulletin about Goldman Sachs’ earnings, which the bank announced in a press release.
- A cut-and-paste paragraph from a Chicago Tribune story summarizing Rahm Emanuel’s appearance on a nationally broadcast interview program from the night before.
- An idiotic, unfunny joke about the SEC made by Joe Scarborough, the television host, on his cable news program, also available to anyone with basic cable.
- Cut-and-pasted text from and a link to Politico’s article from the previous day, already widely reported at this point, about former Obama Administration counsel Gregory Craig advising Goldman Sachs.
- A one-line addendum noting that the Politico reporter who wrote the article saw Gregory Craig at the Capitol, presumably working for clients.
- Mention/link of a Bloomberg article about states continuing to issue muni bonds through Goldman Sachs.
- Mention/link to New York tabloids, both of which have dull stories about Obama and his relations with Wall Street and Mayor Bloomberg.
- A cut-and-paste paragraph from a Politico op-ed by someone who works for Al Gore’s climate-change group.
- A text ad from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, opposing climate-change legislation.
- Six more pasted Rahm Emanuel quotes, from the Charlie Rose Show transcript.
- A link to a chart in the Los Angeles Times.
- Quote from a USA Today article.
- Names and ages of three people in Washington with a birthday, along with thanks to emailers for sending these birthday announcements to the Politico.
- A quote from an article about insurance oversight.
- Cut-and-pasted bits about President Obama’s fund-raising trip to California, from Bloomberg, AP, Reuters, the LA Times and the pool report.
- A link without explanation to an image of the USA Today newspaper.
- Quotes from a Bloomberg article about Goldman Sachs, an AP story about some Republicans voted out of Congress in 2006, and something from the Politico about Eric Cantor.
- Another text ad from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, opposing climate-change legislation.
There is nothing in this banal pile of links and quoted text that wasn’t all over the Internet before Mike Allen so bravely “hit send.” The Gregory Craig story counts (in Washington) as a “scoop,” in which an expected thing happens, involving the expected people — but that was floating around both the Politico’s website and the political blogs for twelve hours before it made it to Mike Allen’s famous email forward.
Even lazy-ass Jim Newell, who writes comedy for Wonkette, posted his version of the Gregory Craig/Goldman story a whole 10 hours before the magic Playbook email went out to a loathsome group of Beltway people who so hate their spouses that they need to scan Mike Allen’s Best of the Web links before saying “Good morning” or “Let’s get a divorce.”
There is much to dislike about the Politico and its newsroom culture of pointless trivia and breathtaking lack of perspective, but pretending Mike Allen’s dumb email is anything more than links to the same shit everybody’s already reading is just bizarre. Why is the White House communications director talking to Mike Allen in the night? Is his wifi broken? Is he just lonely?
A Little Preview on NYT’s Piece on Politico’s Allen: ‘The Insider’s Insider’ [Fishbowl DC]
Actual News Article About Politico [New York Times]