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A Maggie Haberman Counterfactual


Like Emptywheel, I don’t want to spend a lot of time on Maggie Haberman’s journalism, nor the New York Times’s handling of it. But Dan Drezner got into the mix yesterday with a bunch of things that I disagree with. Marcy handles some of those.

Drezner and Maggie’s colleagues at the Times argue that even if Maggie had reported her material in a timely way, nothing would have changed. This is the one point I would like to react to.

Imagine that Maggie and other White House reporters had reported more of Trump’s vast dishonesties and incompetences accurately. Imagine that they had taken what we think of from movies as a reportorial stand: that they will dig down and find the truth and enlighten the public. Without fear or favor, as they like to believe of themselves. That coverage would have been very different from the carefully metered access journalism that we saw.

That access journalism stand is partisan. Reporters are not afraid to write critical stories about Joe Biden. I saw one this morning about how he got someone’s name wrong. I’ve already forgotten most of it. The difference is that Republicans insist on fawning coverage, and Democrats don’t. And reporters give in to the Republicans.

It’s worth imagining how a more adversarial press would have covered Trump. That might have made a difference.

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