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More on Ryan's op-ed

Ryan's op-ed is a nice excuse to reprise my pleading for newspapers to stop publishing columns from politicians and instead offer legislators who want access to the newspaper's reader an interview with a member of the editorial board that will then be published as a transcript. Ryan's piece is a lot less informative than a Q&A with Ruth Marcus would've been. The value add isn't in giving readers the opportunity to read politicians. In the age of RedState.com and House.gov, the value isn't in giving readers a place to read politicians offering talking points. It's in giving them the opportunity to see politicians testing their arguments against informed interviewers.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 16, 2010; 12:34 PM ET
 
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"In the age of RedState.com and House.gov, the value isn't in giving readers a place to read politicians offering talking points. It's in giving them the opportunity to see politicians testing their arguments against informed interviewer"

But Ezra, do you really have time to interview them all, and for every media outlet?

Because otherwise, I'm not sure where they're going to get the informed interviewer. Who else is it gonna be? Tucker Carlson? David Weigel?

The Ezra Klein level of wonkishness is rare.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 16, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

...and these would be the same informed interviewers who failed to challenge (for example) Pelosi's assertion that the PPACA would create 400,000 new jobs almost immediately? ...the same informed interviewers who failed to challenge Reid's 1993 proposal (S. 1351) to modify the 14th Amendment? ...the same informed interviewers who failed to challenge CBO's initial assertions (now retracted) that the PPACA would reduce the deficit over 10 years?

The problem with the sort of state-run media suggested is that it has been tried before and simply does not work: there is no substitute for the free exchange of ideas before an educated public. Admittedly, the public education aspect needs work, as Kathleen Parker highlighted in her WaPo column yesterday.

Posted by: rmgregory | August 16, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"The problem with the sort of state-run media suggested is that it has been tried before and simply does not work: there is no substitute for the free exchange of ideas before an educated public."

How in the world does the suggestion that it is more useful for newspapers to interview office holders (rather than simply publishing their personal political manifestos) translate to "state-run" media?

Posted by: Patrick_M | August 16, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm. I've tried to avoid journolist references, but this is just too much. In the light of revelations that all too many journalists actively colluded in shaping the news in furtherance of the election of a politician to the office of President, I for one prefer to hear directly from the horse's mouth. At least it's clear where the politician is coming from. The editorial board can run opposing pieces if they think the other side of the story needs telling.

Posted by: bgmma50 | August 16, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

"many journalists actively colluded in shaping the news in furtherance of the election of a politician to the office of President,"

Is this a joke? I mean, it's been said over and over and over: reporters are not pundits. Journalists are not pundits. Collusion amongst people who are trying to formulate arguments makes no freaking sense, other than to improve those arguments' persuasiveness.

Kevin's right, but I think this sort of wonkishness is becoming more popular. The long-form magazines that are doing so well right now specialize in this type of journalism. The Time Magazines of the world who hand over columns to politicians are not. If nothing else, talking points are just really, really boring.

Objectivity used to mean *transparency* back in the day, and I think we're getting back to that ideal. If lefty Ezra Klein interviews righty Paul Ryan, I know where they're coming from and where they get their information. In most publications though it's "uninformed, 'unbiased' reporter uses golden mean fallacy over and over," which may give people information but doesn't help them evaluate it.

Posted by: Chris_ | August 16, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

--"The value add isn't [...]"--

Klein likes to pretend he knows what's best for others.

Why don't you start your own newspaper, Klein, on your own dime, and see if you can guess what the real "value add" is.

Posted by: msoja | August 16, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Journolist once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

I'm disgusted with Ezra's complicity in this horrific murder. When will justice prevail?

WOLVERINES!

Posted by: lol-lol | August 16, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

If politicians are allowed to write columns there should be a side by side or inserted fact checking. Some of these columns are not even close to being factual and the newspapers that carry them know, or should know, they're not factual.

Posted by: rlj1 | August 16, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Good contribution msoja! You really lit up the room with you timely and well-made point!

bgmma50, but the politician would, and does in Ezra's pieces, get to state their position and their arguments. The problem with opinion pieces is that they get to make questionable statements with no followup, leading to bad information getting out into the public. The only way I could see opinion pieces used to good effect would be if you set it up sort of like a debate, where one side would go each day, responding to the points made in the opponent's last piece.

rmgreggory, seriously dude, state-run media? How is one reporter making a suggestion to a privately held news corporation about a better way to inform their readers at all related to the media becoming state-run?

Posted by: MosBen | August 16, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Now that I think about it, MosBen, there is clearly merit in the idea of fact checking politicians. I volunteer to follow Barney Frank or Nancy Pelosi around to correct their falsehoods.

Posted by: bgmma50 | August 16, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

*Ryan's piece is a lot less informative than a Q&A with _Ruth Marcus_ would've been.*

Did you *intend* for this to be as harsh an insult as it sounds?

Posted by: constans | August 16, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

--"The problem with opinion pieces is that they get to make questionable statements with no followup, leading to bad information getting out into the public."--

Klein is a serial liar and unrepentant propagandist, but maybe some liars and propagandists are more equal than others.

Posted by: msoja | August 16, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

"In the age of RedState.com and House.gov, the value isn't in giving readers a place to read politicians offering talking points. It's in giving them the opportunity to see politicians testing their arguments against informed interviewers."

It's a question of whose value you're adding to. Ezra, you're making the fallacious assumption that the newspaper's goal is to bring greater value to its readers in terms of genuine insight and understanding of the issues. In the case of the Washington Post, I don't see how you can support that assumption.

It's clear that the WaPo views as its mission to try to propagate a certain worldview: to get as many people as possible to believe that Republicans are fiscally responsible sorts who negotiate honestly and understand policy, that the Federal budget should be balanced by cutting Social Security and Medicare (but raising the estate tax would be class war), and that it's often a good thing for America to go to war, and that any brown people get killed because of it don't really matter that much.

An op-ed such as Ryan's furthers the first two of these aims. From the WaPo's perspective, value added!

Posted by: rt42 | August 18, 2010 12:16 AM | Report abuse

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