It fails to answer, in any concrete way, the biggest question: why, oh why, did she come out so harshly against Fox News this weekend? But today’s Washington Post profile of Anita Dunn, Reluctant White House Communications Director—a kind of political bildungsroman populated, as per the standards of the genre, with involvement-in-scandal, assorted work/life tensions, and ironies of various other stripes—still paints a compelling picture of the formerly-behind-the-scenes media strategist who, this weekend, made herself a very, very public figure.
As for The Question…the profile—the first story, Michael Calderone notes, written by Jason Horowitz since the Post staff writer moved to the paper’s Style section—provides insinuation rather than declaration, suggesting that Dunn’s anti-Fox vitriol might have been the function of some other classic components of the Political Coming Of Age Story: the professed desire for a short tenure of service by way of expediting the return to one’s family; the none-too-fine line between what an administration says and what it does; and some good, old-fashioned sword-falling. (“A source inside the White House, who was not authorized to speak about strategy meetings, said Dunn went out front against Fox first and foremost because it was her job, but also because it potentially gave the administration the opportunity to distance itself from the flap with the Roger Ailes-led news channel once she leaves the communications job.”)
The haziness of that explanation notwithstanding, however, the profile is still well worth a read. If for no other reason than the fact that it includes—perhaps by way of compensation—a rare gem in the annals not only of political mythology, but of political reporting more generally: the use of the terms “blond hair” and “gravitas” in the same sentence.Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.