This morning, the front page of Politico announced an exclusive story. The headline? “W.H. privately plots 2012 campaign run.” This afternoon, CJR staffers Clint Hendler and Greg Marx discussed the story via GChat. Here’s a (lightly) edited transcript.
Clint: OK! So… What did you make of this morning’s SIREN from Politico?
Greg: You mean the big EXCLUSIVE that the president of the United States is “privately plotting” to run for re-election, and to win?
Clint: YES! That’s the one! I, for one, am shocked that he has no plans to pull an LBJ.
Greg: Me too!
Greg: But people are always saying he should be more like LBJ in terms of trying to get Congress to do whatever he wants. (There was just a story like that on the front of the NYT today.) And obviously one way to be like LBJ is not to run for re-election
Clint: Are you and I “privately plotting” to post this chat online RIGHT NOW?
Greg: We are!
Greg: Also, since we are the Columbia Journalism Review and always doing things like scolding journalists who don’t properly attribute their sources and influences, we should acknowledge that we are stealing this idea from The Awl.
Clint: I will give Mike Allen, the author, one bit of credit: The fact that Jim Messina will likely be the campaign manager does strike me as News, of a sort.
Greg: I agree. And also to a lesser extent that Axelrod may move out of DC, and that Plouffe is going to be involved again
Clint: Still, that’s at the level of “likely”—not much really. And also, in Winter 2010, who cares?
Greg: Yes. And also that’s not really what the gigantic headline on the front of Politico said the story was about
Greg: One kind of doubts that “Messina may play role in re-election campaign” would get the gigantic “EXCLUSIVE” banner
Clint: Or the Drudgesque SIREN. No, it did not. It suggested a private plot. I’m thinking of, like, the XYZ affair.
Clint: What I love about the Plouffe revelation is this sentence: Plouffe “will be a central player in the reelect, perhaps as an outside adviser.”
Clint: I guess I get this: Plouffe is too big to not be in this.
Clint: But still, “central” traditionally means, like, near or in the center.
Clint: “Outside” usually means something else, like, outside the center.
Clint: “Perhaps” there’s lots of wiggle room in that description.
Greg: I think you are just being a pedantic hair-splitting media critic now, with your close attention to the meaning of words
Clint: Guilty as charged.
Greg: Personally, my favorite sentence was this one: “But the sources said Obama has given every sign of planning to run again and wants the next campaign to resemble the highly successful 2008 effort.”
Greg: I was glad to see that statement had “sources” — apparently, “Democrats familiar with the discussions” — to back it up.
Clint: Yes: you wouldn’t want to get too far ahead on your skis on the notion that even this aloof/elite president hews to the age-old wisdom of: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Greg: Back to the “who cares” question — I can imagine that there are Politico readers who do care, like rightatthisverymoment, that Jim Messina is likely to manage the 2012 campaign.
Clint: Sure. I mean, they need to start schmoozing him for jobs rightatthisverymoment.
Clint: Never too soon to start Winning the morning.
Greg: Right. But I don’t understand why that factoid and the couple other little nuggets here get gussied up with a big “Exclusive” bow.
Clint: See previous line, re: Win, morning.
Clint: But how many times can the morning be won with such a nothing burger?
Clint: It clearly did not win with you and I.
Greg: No. But someone at Politics Daily did see fit to basically rewrite the Politico story.
Clint: Wah? link?
Clint: That is so sad.
Greg: Yes. Wouldn’t it have been better to fill the gaping content hole of the Web by making fun of something?
Clint: Touché, touché.
Clint: Another amazing feature of this piece: It spends its last third chewing over where the non-campaign will rent an office.
Clint: Answer: No one knows, but likely spots are:
Clint: 1) Near or in Washington, where, you know, the candidate (i.e. incumbent president) lives
Clint: 2) Chicago, where the last campaign was.
Clint: Before reading this, I was thinking Hawaii or maybe Elkhart.
Greg: I think they may be kind of sick of him in Elkhart by now.
Greg: Both those choices sound kind of nefarious to me though.
Clint: How so?
Greg: It’s either “inside-the-Beltway politics” or “Chicago-style politics.”
Greg: Will be good for journalists to have clichés at the ready though.
Clint: Yeah, and credulously passing on this whole notion that renting space in Northern Va is somehow “better” than being in DC is, well…
Clint: hard to take credulously.
Greg: On that point, see this
Greg: Anyway—one thing in the story that might have been news, but really wasn’t, was the role that Organizing for America might play in “the re-elect.” Or in actually governing.
Clint: Yes! That would be interesting.
Greg: I’m not sure if it got a SIREN though
Clint: He is an excellent reporter, siren or no.
Clint: One last thing, and I’m guessing we’ll be done here.
Clint: this passage: “Other central figures are likely to be DNC Executive Director Jennifer O’Malley Dillon; her husband, Patrick Dillon, who is deputy White House political director and is likely to bring his extensive gubernatorial contacts to Chicago; Mitch Stewart, executive director of the DNC’s Organizing for America; Jon Carson, national field director of Obama for America; and White House political director Patrick Gaspard.”
Clint: So you are telling me that senior DNC staffers and senior White House political advisors are “likely” to have big parts in the reelection campaign of the incumbent Democratic party?
Greg: Not just big parts — “central” parts.
Clint: Still, I’m a little worried here… This graf is totally unsourced.
Clint: How Game Change-y.
Greg: Yes. An author’s note on sourcing would have been appropriate.
Clint: But perhaps a little self defeating, no?Clint Hendler and Greg Marx are staff writers at CJR.