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MediaWatch: WaPo at the Crossroads; Politico’s Cancer Moves Northward

The purchase of the Washington Post by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos caught almost everyone by surprise, and is still reverberating among the Make Believe Media’s denizens.

Within a week of the deal being announced, former WaPo ombudsman Patrick Petson took to the pages of DC’s alt-weekly, Washington CityPaper, offering his advice for what was needed to fix the Beltway’s pre-eminent rag. When stripped of the typical, obvious suggestions and bromides one would expect, Pexton’s “advice” boiled down to “Fire Jennifer Rubin.”

While I agree with the sentiment, ditching the Mittens fluffing, establishment GOP Stupid Party’s RINOish mouthpiece wouldn’t do anything to change WaPo’s fortunes. The problems at WaPo are more fundamental:

Erik Wemple breaks a huge media-corruption story for the Washington Post, and unfortunately for his employer, it’s about the Post itself.

This is just about as bad as it gets, and it’s mitigated only slightly by the fact the Post allowed Wemple to publish his tough piece.

Wemple reports that the Chinese wall between advertising and editorial at theWashington Post Magazine, the paper’s thin little Sunday insert, is being seriously breached. Two stories from the August 11 education issue—one on college drinking and one on benefits for gay spouses of higher-ed workers— were pulled from the issue….

This deserves a rare Audit WTF Award. You can’t do that. You’re the Washington Post, for crying out loud! Have some self-respect. The ad staff shouldn’t be allowed to even comment on copy before it’s published, much less to spike two-thirds of an issue’s pieces because they don’t provide an optimal environment of marketing-friendly bullshit for merchants.

This is a far worse transgression than the Atlantic’s recent ‘Scientology advertorial’ fiasco. In that case, the Atlantic was just guilty of stupidity; treating column inches as ad space could be compared to websites running “sponsored links,” a la Buzzfeed or FARK, but it was a foolish decision that needlessly–if temporarily–tarnished the magazine’s reputation.

WaPo’s breaching of the “chinese firewall” is institutional rot. If he wants to change the paper’s fortunes, Bezos needs to start firing people further up the food chain than Jennifer Rubin before charting a vision for its future.

Meanwhile, the Post’s Beltway rivals, Politico, announced their Sugar Daddy, Robert Allbritton, flush after selling his television holdings, has made an addition to his burgeoning New Media stable:

In an ambitious play for the New York market, POLITICO publisher Robert Allbritton has purchased the online news site Capital New York, with plans to make “a substantial investment” in the business and more than quadruple staff.

Capital, which was launched in 2010 by former New York Observer editors Josh Benson and Tom McGeveran, will now be led by POLITICO co-founder and executive editor Jim VandeHei, who will serve as president while remaining in his current role at POLITICO. Benson and McGeveran will remain co-editors.

According to Mediabistro’s Fishbowl DC, things in New York’s media zone will soon get… interesting:

Things could turn into a bloodsport. Word on the street is that they’ll be poaching the “best and brightest” from New York publications. Inside sources explain to FishbowlDC that it’s clear they see weakness in the New York Times as they saw in WaPo in 2007. They think they can go into their core areas – city and state politics, media – and beat them at their own game by instituting a new one.

Personally, Capital New York has never impressed me; their main competition, Politicker, offers a better product. And believing Politico’s battle with WaPo can be similarly waged against the Old Gray Lady is just plain crazy. The Beltway brand of political ‘journalism’ can’t be ported to the New York market, because it’s a wholly different environment. The “Red vs Blue” conflict that Politico uses to grease their Interweb hits doesn’t exist.

The NY Republican Party is a toothless group which has no influence. Except for a few Congressional districts (in NYC, the imbalance is even worse), New York is an overwhelmingly Blue State.

In DC, political news coverage is, naturally, centered on what’s going on in the White House. Politico sucks up to the administration like no other Beltway media outfit. But up in Albany, the seat of power is not occupied by the guy living on Eagle Street. Andy “Evil Eyes” Coumo does not control the levers of power; kissing his ass would earn Politico North a big fat nuthinburger.

The real power in Albany is centered in the Assembly Speaker’s seat. And trust me, Shelly The Shitheel eats punks like Politico’s cubs for lunch.   



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