Politico picked the right person to write its transparent, passive-aggressive attack on “This Town” author Mark Leibovich — a media insider who committed the cardinal sin of breaking from the collective to publicly report on DC power. Lois Romano is not only a woman (Politico has been rocked by charges of sexism for years), but she is also an effective left-wing attack dog; the kind who is unafraid to pose as an objective journalist on MSNBC as she flacks for gun control by ripping the head of the NRA with racially-charged rhetoric.
Apparently, Leibovich’s inside-inside page-turner’s number-one target is the left-wing Politico. I have read that they are mentioned on every third page, or something. But the famously thin-skinned outlet, that is best known for reporting on the birthdays of Obama officials and media elites, obviously doesn’t like it when they are exposed and criticized in the same way they attempt to expose the GOP every single day.
Politico probably expected Leibovich to service them like they do the Obama Administration: blind loyalty, soul-selling, and deep tissue massage — all done, of course, “Behind the Curtain.”
But he didn’t, so here is Politico hypocritically pushing back against someone reporting on them with a shrill scream of Apostate!: [emphasis added]
Washington is a town that shuns wannabes and impostors to ensure no one as unsavory as the gate-crashing Salahis makes it into the inner sanctum. So, it’s no small irony that a guy who was embraced by the A-list soirees of D.C. ends up toppling the hors d’oeuvres trays.
Indeed, the nation’s capital is in full spasm over Mark Leibovich’s cutting takedown of the city’s cozy culture in his new book, “This Town.” The fear: That it will send a chill through the elite after-hours social circuit — where the real business of this town often gets done between reporters and sources. What has rattled many is that Leibovich did a chunk of his reporting at parties and funerals at which he was considered a guest — or, at least, not a working journalist taking detailed notes.
For better or worse, there have long been some unwritten guidelines in Washington about what’s fair game — and what’s a cheap shot — in the coverage of social events. And unless you are officially covering a tony party with notebook visibly in hand, or camera visible, you’re expected to be, well, circumspect. Leibovich — or “Leibo” as he is called affectionately — is a self-admitted member of “The Club” and a popular New York Times reporter who is being privately assailed for exploiting his access to parties in order to skewer other members of The Club. The betrayal! Not since Truman Capote’s “Answered Prayers” knocked New York society on its heels with its thinly fictionalized revelations of real players who had thought the author was their friend has a book so riled a city’s upper echelons.
As you can see, around the third paragraph of this massive 1800 worder (Politico is famous for its overlong pieces — but name-dropping requires space), the crybabying begins; and let me assure you, it only gets worse (and duller and more repetitive) as it whine-whine-whines along.
Romano likely believes she is brilliantly sliding a stiletto into Leibovich’s ribs. But if he has insomnia, she is doing him a favor.
At any rate, the chilling message is the same and meant for more than Leibovich: Don’t dare break from the herd, break the rules, or report on the powerful.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC