Politico’s Wicked Sense of Humor

Politico satires Politico

We gave a shaky “thumbs down” to Politico’s new site, Politico 2012 LIVE, yesterday, describing it as “Politico Poutine—fried-up regular Politico covered in gravy and cheese curds and whatever other salty deliciousness you can find in the pantry.” Jeremy W. Peters at the New York Times had his own take. Our general problem was that the website seems, at least for now, to contain everything that grates about Politico, just more of it, and in quicker, sharper, and more numbing bursts.

Some at Politico weren’t surprised to hear what we thought. And to be honest, we’re not all that surprised that they aren’t surprised, and so on.

But today comes signs again of that wicked sense of Politico humor that—love or hate the site—gives the endeavor a kind of manic, self-assured charm. In his column today, Michael Kinsley skewers his employer in “POLITICO raises bar on media rat race.” The piece reads like a faux press release for the site’s future presidential coverage and will delight those overly familiar with the website’s workings. Here’s a taste (our emphasis).

“The 2016 presidential race begins today,” POLITICO Executive Editor Jim VandeHei said in a webcast press conference from the company’s headquarters at a secret address—1100 Wilson Blvd. in Arlington, Va. Asked whether the lack of candidates would be a problem, VandeHei insisted that “candidates play a less and less significant role in American politics, especially at the presidential level. By the time we have finished covering the political consultants and advisers, then throw in a poll or two, there is really no need to talk to the candidates themselves. Our best scientific evidence is that, while the candidates may still have some vestigial role in 2012, by 2016 they will largely have disappeared, except for purely symbolic activities like posing for pictures [while] coming out of church with their families.” By 2020, VandeHei said, even those will be fabricated. “We project [that] the lack of any official candidates, while it may be a problem for media attempting to cover the 2012 election, will be an anachronistic worry by 2016 and a question on ‘Jeopardy!’ by 2020.” Even today, “Have you seen what you can do with Photoshop?” VandeHei asked. “It’s incredible.”

Jeff Jarvis gets a nod:

Jeff Jarvis, associate professor and director of the interactive program at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, who authored the new book “Net Neutrality: What Is It Again?” commented: “In the end, this is all about our children. If we want to leave them a rich legacy of media and empower them to enjoy the same media diet of stories about polls and debates and gaffes and commentary from the left and from the right and promises made and promises broken and pleas for civility and anonymous quotes and Sarah Palin that we have enjoyed up to now, we’re going to have to face facts and start rationing news.”

As does Gawker man Nick Denton:

Nick Denton of Gawker Media expressed more skepticism. “Who the hell are you?” he said, in reply to an e-mail inquiry. “Just go away, you worm.”

We’re considering on our own satirical response. Working headline: “CJR tells its (two) readers: Politico shallow, quick, apocalyptic beltway smut. Again.” Dateline? 2020. Or 2016. Or, er, 2011.

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Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor. Tags: , , ,