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The Worst American Journalism Has to Offer


I am thankful to Eve Fairbanks for observing that, in addition to apparently being a horrible human being, Mark Halperin had an extraordinarily pernicious influence on American politics:

At the same time, The Note made it seem that tiny events — a cough at a press conference, a hush-hush convo between Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell in a corridor — held apocalyptic importance. Cloaked in seriousness, with the imprimatur of Peter Jennings’ ABC News, in reality The Note was not news but simple gossip.

Gossip: The word comes from the old English for “baptismal sponsor” — a godparent — and Halperin positioned himself as the priest who stood between the layman and the sacred mysteries of Washington, only letting a person through in exchange for the corrupting coin of accepting your own personal idiocy. It required acknowledging, like a cult initiate, that you had to learn the Master’s arcane knowledge before claiming to know anything at all.

The Note was a cult. Between bits of knowledge in each mailer, Halperin inserted birthday wishes to his gang, cementing the impression of Washington as a place where people are much more interested in buttering each other up than they are in the lives of the kind of Americans whose names Mark Halperin did not know.
As I said: Washington was my city. But it is a city for all Americans, as the seat of our democracy. For his efforts to make the city seem, instead, like a nonstop exclusive party to which almost nobody is invited, I dare say Halperin is the single journalist most responsible for Donald Trump. Think that’s too bold? Name me another.

After all, what did Trump respond to? Most of all, two things: the sense among Americans that the language of politics has become an incomprehensible jargon of the elite, and the sense that a disaster or a dramatic change that will upend everything looms at every moment — hidden from sight, but still imminent.

2016 was also Halperin’s election because the media’s coverage of the campaign, despite massive substantive importance that only starts with four thrilling decades of Neil Gorsuch, was dominated by inane trivia. EMAILS, in particular, was exactly the kind of bullshit The Note specialized in. At least Trump’s victory won’t be as profitable for Halperin as he anticipated. This parody is all you need to know about Doubling Down Game Change on Steroids: How Donald Trump Closed the Deal and Stopped Hillary From Throwing America Under the Bus anyway.

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