Great moments in media sycophancy 

This week’s New York Times magazine has a profile of Mike Allen, the political reporter that writes Politico’s “Playbook” feature. Allen is certainly influential and it’s not surprising that the Times would profile him. Although this “disclosure” by writer Mark Leibovich well into the piece is a pretty damning indictment of the beltway media culture:

I should disclose a few things: I have known Mike Allen for more than a decade. We worked together at The Washington Post, where I spent nine years and where I came to know VandeHei and Harris. We all have the same friends and run into each other a lot, and I have told them how much I admire what they have achieved at Politico. I like them all.

In other words, I write this from within the tangled web of “the community.” I read Playbook every morning on my BlackBerry, usually while my copies of The New York Times and The Washington Post are in plastic bags. When Allen links to my stories, I see a happy uptick in readership. I have also been a source: after I “spotted” Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner at an organic Chinese restaurant in my neighborhood last year — picking up kung pao chicken with brown rice (“for Tim”) — I dutifully e-mailed Allen with the breaking news.

Again, it’s hard to argue that Allen doesn’t merit a profile — but perhaps Leibovich should step down from his position of as president of Mike Allen’s fan club before he writes a profile of him for the paper of record. Otherwise it merely serves to confirm the reader’s already well-founded suspicions that this is a puff piece.

Also, reporting on what organic Chinese food restaurant the Treasury secretary frequents? What is this Us Weekly?

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Mark Hemingway

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