In the Arena

A question for Glenn Greenwald

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I don’t understand this. Is he saying that people like Broder and Ron Brownstein and me shouldn’t talk to people outside the Beltway?

Look, the blogospheric media critics have served a valuable function at times, and at other times it’s just vitriol for vitriol’s sake. I thought an essential part of the critique was that some of us are out of touch with reality…but now Greenwald is saying that any efforts to actually report what’s going on outside the Beltway are bad, too?

I’m not endorsing everything Broder writes. I’ve disagreed with his recent opinings about a Bush comeback. But there really is a bright line between those who make the effort to report and those who don’t. Broder makes the effort, even now, at an age when many pundits have retreated into armchair columny.

Update: Several readers and also Greenwald seem to be conflating Broder’s DC columns, which are fair game, and his lifelong history of going outside the Beltway to report. I don’t think Broder would argue that his columns about Bush and Reid (another one I disagreed with) directly reflect What The People Think…but I do think his heritage of reporting influences his worldview, just as the time I’ve spent in the middle east affects the Washington-based columns I write about middle east policy.
Again, it’s perfectly appropriate for Greenwald to attack Broder’s opinions or mine…but he seems to be attacking the very act of reporting in this post, which is wrong.

Update: Here’s Glenn Greenwald’s response to my post. As I say above, Greenwald and I are in agreement on columnists who don’t go out and report…but I’m wondering where the evidence is that when Broder goes out, he’s only talking to people who worship at his shrine or agree with him? In my experience, most of the people I talk to have absolutely no idea who I am, not just on the trail, but especially when I spend time in poor neighborhoods or overseas (an exception is when I go out and cover a Congressional race in, say, Greenwich, Ct.) . Again, I’ve often said that the blogosphere can be a necessary corrective to sloppy punditry–I’ve been happy to admit it when I was wrong and willing to defend my position when I disagree with the criticism–but I think the broadbrush attacks on Beltway pundits as a class is also sloppy and quite useless when unaccompanied by details. For the record, I don’t consider Broder, or any other journalist, the Voice of the People. But it would be nice if Greenwald could point out an instance where Broder’s outside the beltway reporting was defective.

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