Some Washington elites are crying foul about a searing critique of Washington’s ruling class written by a member of “the club.”
Mark Leibovich, a Boston native and New York Times Magazine reporter, depicts politicians, media figures and lobbyists who chase the city’s gold and glitz. His critics condemn him for being an insider who broke the code and exposed the truth of parties, people and politics he witnessed close up in the nation’s capital.
His explosive book, “This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral–Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!–in America’s Gilded Capital,” is written, he says, “for people outside of Washington.”
Leibovich mentions being stopped and “chewed out on the street” by insiders who thought his book was “not flattering and not respectful enough” of them after his book was published.
Why did he take such as risk by writing his book?
“I do have a foot in both worlds,” he said. “I choose to live here. I choose to follow politics. I choose to work for a major news organization that a lot of people read, The New York Times, and a lot of people have very strong feelings about [that], and there’s probably part of me that wanted to put a cap on myself before I became too much of the insider world.”
His book opens with a scene unlikely to occur in normal U.S. cities, when politicians and journalists worked the room at former NBC newsman Tim Russert’s memorial service.
“I was struck at the memorial service at the Kennedy Center by just everyone working it,” Leibovich said, “And how everyone was just throwing business cards around, and everyone was trying to get then-Sen. Obama, or then Sen. McCain booked on their shows, and looking for their next jobs. It was just profane in some ways.”
Another example of Washington’s abnormality is the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner, he said.
“The White House Correspondents Dinner is just this awful, I think, cancer of an event, which is this huge dinner which has become these dozens of parties in which tens of millions of dollars are spent on the permanent class of Washington, ostensibly leaders, spending money on themselves at a time when the rest of the country has nothing to celebrate,” he said.
In condemning “the ruling class” in this interview, Leibovich tells tales and names names, including Richard Gephardt, Trent Lott, Haley Barbour, Chris Dodd, Bob Woodward, Robert Novak and others.
Leibovich’s editors made him take out sizable chunks of his manuscript — putting Washington elites on notice that a second edition might be right around the corner from this talented, watchful writer who is producing respectable, courageous and honorable journalism.
A previous segment of the interview discussed the impact of Mike Allen of Politico and Matt Drudge on the evolution of journalism.
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