The Times piece nicely captures why Allen has become a star in this environment. “[K]nown as an unfailingly fair, fast and prolific reporter,” he hated it when editors at The Washington Post, where he used to work, told him they didn’t have space for his stories. But he “struggled to write the front-page analytical stories that were the traditional preserve of newspaper ‘stars.’ Harris, who wrote many of these during his 21 years at the Post, says that the whirling production demands of today’s news environment have caught up to Allen’s sleepless, spaceless peculiarities.”

The business side is happy, too.

While most Playbook subscribers live around Washington, significant numbers work on Wall Street, in state capitals and at news and entertainment companies on both coasts. Major retailers (Starbucks) and obscure lobbies (Catfish Farmers of America) pay $15,000 a week to advertise in Playbook, a figure that is expected to rise.

Ka-ching! Encouraged by its success on the national politics front, Politico’s parent company is set to launch a local Washington news site soon.

But does that make it a model?

“I’ve been in Washington about 30 years,” Mark Salter, a former chief of staff and top campaign aide to John McCain, says. “And here’s the surprising reality: On any given day, not much happens. It’s just the way it is.” Not so in the world of Politico, he says, where meetings in which senators act like themselves (maybe sarcastic or short) become “tension filled” affairs. “They have taken every worst trend in reporting, every single one of them, and put them on rocket fuel,” Salter says. “It’s the shortening of the news cycle. It’s the trivialization of news. It’s the gossipy nature of news. It’s the self-promotion.”

Ouch. Don’t think I could have said it better.

But please, don’t miss this Leibovich note:

Salter asked that if I quoted him, I also mention that he likes and respects many Politico reporters, beginning with Mike Allen.

Put differently:

“Playbook is D.C.’s Facebook,” VandeHei concluded. “And Mike’s the most popular friend.”
That’s fine. But the future of Washington reporting? I hope not.

Holly Yeager is CJR's Peterson Fellow, covering fiscal and economic policy. She is based in Washington and reachable at holly.yeager@gmail.com.