The Mirror

Ezra Klein Offers Terrible Advice To Young Journalists

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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There’s only one thing left to do on the day you release a lengthy, nothing burger interview with President Obama. You share your vast wisdom with young journalists because the novices really need to know what you think.

Except there’s just one problem.

No, let me not pull a Brian Williams here, there are a shit ton of problems. But the most glaring one being that you are not a seasoned journalist who should be offering the kind of dripping condescension that usually comes with these kinds of missives.

Except you offer it anyway, and just come off as a pretentious twit.

As if you needed to guess, Vox Democratic operative Ezra Klein, 30, offered advice to young journalists on Monday. In his essay, he complimented his wife, New York mag’s Annie Lowery, without explaining their marital relationship, he showered BuzzFeed with kisses and he gave himself and his relatively new site a hearty pat on the back.

“This is my best advice to young journalists,” he writes in his headline.

Klein can’t resist endorsing the model he’s set up at Vox:

“In particular, your editor will often want something ‘new.’ That is to say, they will want something that they, a highly educated hyper-consumer of news products, hasn’t seen before. But your readers don’t necessarily want the stories your editors haven’t read. They want the stories that explain their world to them. Those stories are often absurdly basic, and they might feel like repeats of past stories: What’s in this bill? Why do we care about inflation? What does the Fed do?”

He love taps BuzzFeed‘s Andrew Kaczynksi, calling him “a force” in campaign journalism who showed up campaign journalists for being lazy. He conjured up an example of Kaczynski unearthing a USA Today op-ed by Mitt Romney encouraging President Obama to add an individual mandate to his Affordability Care Act. He doesn’t mention Kaczynksi’s major Boston Marathon fuck up that landed in an episode of HBO’s The Newsroom. He basically got the bomber’s identities wrong. (No big deal. But shhhh….young journos, don’t do that.)

Klein says do the kind of writing you want to do — don’t just go to the publication with the biggest name. His examples just so happen to include his close friend and Executive Editor Matthew Yglesias (proud wearer of the neck beard) and wife, Annie Lowery.

“When Slate goes to hire its next economy writer, it’s going to look first to people who have done some excellent economic writing. It will hire — as happened — someone like Matt Yglesias or Annie Lowrey or Jordan Weissmann, all of whom were showing themselves to be ace economic writers at smaller outlets and in the blogosphere.”

A colleague remarked, “Klein needs to stop puffing her up just because he’s his wife. Also, where is the part about burning through millions in seed funding to start a sixth-grade-level leftist wikipedia that everybody makes fun of? Pull that shit off if you can, by all means. That’s my #1 piece of journalistic advice.”

Another journalist cut into his experience: “He’s never spent a day in his life being a journalist, he’s an activist with a blog. His ‘favorite example’ is a guy at Buzzfeed using Google to find something in the nation’s largest circulation newspaper. That’s pathetic. Not surprising, but pathetic. Given his hackery, ass-kissing of Obama and unthinking dogmatic loyalty to the Democratic Party’s money interests, the Pulitzers will be calling soon. Maybe he can use his prize money to build that bridge from Gaza to the West Bank.”

And another: “Sometimes in between rounds of South Park, Wendy’s runs, Marlboro Reds, and searching Ebola symptoms on WebMd, I either break a news story or I write something halfway interesting about politics or government. So, that’d be my advice. Just do that. That’s my advice to youth. Also, fuck this guy.”

Seriously, who does Ezra Klein think he is? He hasn’t spent decades in this business. He hasn’t spent even one decade (and I’m being generous here with the time frame) in formal journalism. He started his own blog in 2003, moved on to working for Howard Dean‘s Democratic primary race in Vermont and didn’t land a real job at a place anyone’s actually heard of — the liberal American Prospect — until 2007.

Klein also never mentions his own grand fuck up that still occasionally comes back to haunt him. He once wrote on Twitter a little something about the late, beloved “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert: “Fuck him with a spiky acid-tipped dick.” (Yeah, kids, don’t do this either.)

He’s no James Fallows of The Atlantic. Or even a Ron Fournier from National Journal. Or Susan Page from USA Today. Or Mark Knoller from CBS Radio. Or Roger Simon from Politico. All of whom could more believably dispatch advice to young journalists without making you want to throw up in the process.

(I take that back — Fournier’s dispatch may need nausea warnings — but at least he’s put in the time needed to qualify for advising anyone else in the industry.)