I know I pick on Ezra Klein, who blogs professionally for the Washington Post, quite often, but it’s only because he deserves it. As I’ve shown, he has a tendency to take a basic left-wing talking point, wrap it up in a softer shell, paint it with a couple plausible-looking statistics (if he’s feeling energetic), and offer it as truth. Now, I realize that makes him no different from just about every other blogger on the planet, but he’s not just another blogger. He is a paid, full-time “journalist”, not just for one of the largest and most respected newspapers in the country but also for Bloomberg and Newsweek. He also appears frequently on MS-NBC as a guest and fill-in host. His platform gives him authority he simply would not have if he regularly wrote for, say, The Klein Bottle, or whatever he might call his own blog nowadays.
Greg Sargent has a nice take on the e-mail an Obama campaign official sent mocking Paul Krugman and the “firebaggers.” But whenever I read these periodic eruptions about “the professional left,” my main thought is: if I were a member of the professional left, I would be stoked.
[Emphasis mine, italics in the original]
If? If?? I have no idea who Klein is trying to fool with this silly attempt to place himself well outside the group of established, full-time, and fairly well-compensated Democratic Party content-generators, but whoever they are, he must think them incredibly stupid.
First of all, it’s obvious that his paid positions and his political slant place him very squarely in the membership of the professional left. Even a blind man wearing earmuffs could find those little clues in half a nanosecond.
Beyond that, though, it’s flat-out dishonest for Klein to say Jane Hamsher and her Firedoglake blog as “professional” in the same paragraph where he says he isn’t. Hamsher is a lot of things, but paid by the left-wing establishment really isn’t one of them. I’m sure she picks up a check once in a while for a piece she might write elsewhere, but unless things have changed drastically, Firedoglake is supported by its members and by advertising. Hamsher is not backed by a single national media organization (much less three) or a cable news network. She was not a “fellow” at a professional operation like The American Prospect. Indeed, her independence may be why she’s landed herself a spot on the Obama Enemies list while Klein, whose harshest criticisms against the Obama administration have been as vicious as a mauling by a newborn kitten, has not.
The truth is that Ezra Klein is about as professional a leftist as one can be, and he has been for a very long time. It’s too bad that he’s ashamed to say so. There are a lot of talented progressives who would love to be where he is right now.