New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich may have realized after writing This Town that if you make 90% of the Washington, D.C.-No Labels-St. Albans permanent political class uncomfortable, then 90% of America will probably appreciate you.
Appearing on Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot channel 125 with Breitbart News Executive Chairman and host Stephen K. Bannon, Leibovich excoriated the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which is the symbol of the cozy interconnectedness between government officials and politicians and the press that are supposed to afflict them (the comfortable) and comfort the afflicted.
He said the event that in recent years has been emblematic of a “Boomtown” that has gone wild and become completely out of touch with the rest of the country has “jumped the shark years ago” and was “ridiculous.” Leibovich said he wrote the book because it was a “good time to deconstruct what has happened to Washington” and conceded, without pretense, that he was still an insider attached to a major news organization before emphasizing how the political class and the press that cover them have become so “comfortable” and “clubby.”
He acknowledged that he his job may be more difficult by writing the book, but also maintained that “discomfort should be more a part of our jobs.”
Leibovich opens his book, This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral–Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!–in America’s Gilded Capital, by Tim Russert’s funeral. It could have been for a mob boss, with political lobbyists, Democrats, Republicans, and prominent families like the Clintons, Obamas, Bushes, and Kennedys in attendance and going through all of the rituals.
But Leibovich said he was “very struck by how a solemn event became a cocktail party from the very beginning” with D.C. denizens scalping tickets outside the Kennedy Center, booking politicians for TV shows, and even “jockeying for the good eulogy slots.”
“It’s all very disconnected. The book is about disconnect between how America views itself and the Capitol and how Washington views itself and views America,” he said. “For as divided as Washington may seem on TV, it’s quite interconnected.”
Though Washington does not really produce anything, it is, as Leibovich noted, “by far the wealthiest metropolitan area” because there is so much money in politics, government, and consulting that can benefit Democrats and Republicans in the permanent political class greatly. Like professional wrestling, much of the “fighting” is scripted and, at the end of the day, both sides benefit while nothing of significance ever gets accomplished.
The conservative grassroots have embraced the Tea Party movement and outsiders like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (see: her speech in Indianola, Iowa in 2011 when she injected “crony capitalism” into the political bloodstream) for railing against the permanent political class that Leibovich scorches in his book.
And to be fair, President Barack Obama, in running against the Clinton/DLC machine, also tapped the same anger against the bipartisan Washington establishment in 2008 when he built upon the groundwork laid by former Vermont Governor Howard Dean’s “You have the power” campaign to take back the “Democratic wing of the Democratic party” in 2004.
“You can see why it strikes fear in the heart of the establishment,” Leibovich said of the grassroots Tea Party movement and its success in the historic 2010 midterm elections that ran against Obamacare and the cronyism that has become more rampant in D.C. “It’s powerful because frankly they have the truth on their side.”
Leibovich, who said he had a greater appreciation for grassroots movements on both sides after writing the book and how people outside of Washington perceived the city, and Bannon joked that not attending the White House Correspondents’ Dinner may be the only area where Breitbart News and the New York Times have editorial agreement.
“What are we celebrating? We are talking about 15-20 pre-parties and after parties over a four or five day period,” Leibovich said. “Why? Because the country feels so great about the job the Washington media is doing, the Washington political class is doing, or all the major institutions like Congress are doing?”
On ABC’s This Week, Leibovich called the weekend of self-stroking events an “abomination.” For making D.C.’s permanent political class a bit uncomfortable, he has reportedly banned from Bloomberg/Vanity Fair’s soiree and Tammy Haddad’s Garden Brunch, which he eviscerates in his book. But he also said that he knew who his real friends were as opposed to his “Washington friends” that are often seen on the cocktail circuit.
Leibovich timed the release of the paperback edition for this weekend, and he even had some fun during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner when he invited the media to stop by the Hilton for his “Media Ethics Colloquy.”
No reporters in “This Town” showed.
Thanks to all who stopped by our WHCD media ethics colloquy at the Hilton…well, maybe next year well get someone pic.twitter.com/jcAjzMfpU0
— Mark Leibovich (@MarkLeibovich) May 4, 2014
— Mark Leibovich (@MarkLeibovich) May 3, 2014
By the way, following WHCD Media Ethics Colloquy — attendance zero — we will be repairing to after-party, sponsored by Dioxin Foundation
— Mark Leibovich (@MarkLeibovich) May 3, 2014