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Jonathan Bernstein on the Extraordinary Quality of Ezra Klein's Wonkblog

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Jonathan Bernstein:

A plain blog about politics: Catch of the Day: Ezra Klein has always been a terrific friend and supporter of Plain Blog, of me, and of political scientists in general. So I'm not exactly unbiased on this. On the other hand, I'd take his support to be pretty convincing evidence that he is not, as [Julia] Ioffe believes, always looking "upward" -- I mean, really, when Ezra first took notice of me I couldn't have been more of a nobody, and even now it's hard to see that there's much percentage in it for him in (as he does) occasionally tweeting out one of my posts. I think Ed Kilgore nails it: Ezra has a great talent for collegiality….

The thing about Wonkblog is how astonishingly good it is. Ezra is exactly right that policy was (and is) undercovered by the general-interest press, but presumably that's systematic, and he's found a way to break through that, somehow. That's an important story! Not only that, but he's expanded into his current format while maintaining consistent, terrific quality. That's an interesting story! Perhaps even more interesting than who he spoke with at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Granted, that story, especially the first half, would have a lot less to do with Ezra Klein than it would with the general orientation of a large group of bloggers, some in roughly Ezra's generation but many not, who place policy far more in the center of their interest in politics than has traditionally been the case with most reporters.

(Oh, and I've never met Gene Sperling, but I suspect DeLong is exactly right in his Klein/Sperling comments. Also: yes, Sperling is an important player at the moment, but Ioffe is telling a story about the White House Correspondents' Dinner: there are lots of important players in that room! And by the way, that includes Ezra Klein, who the WH might just want to be talking to for their own purposes -- in other words, it's possible that Ioffe's informant has the story backwards).

Anyway, not that there's anything wrong with doing a personality profile, but… we're not getting the interesting parts of this story.

Ed Kilgore:

Ed Kilgore:

Political Animal - An Earned Celebrity: One of the least surprising ventures of the shiny new New Republic, with its focus on what might be called the aesthetic side of politics, is an extensive profile of Ezra Klein…. Julia Ioffe’s impressionistic take on Klein… misses one aspect of his career and personality that helps explain his success: Ezra’s one of those people with a rare talent for collegiality. This extends beyond the civil tone of his writing to his genuine interest in the strange assortment of people drawn to political and policy writing in all its forms…. As he often explained to JournoList participants, Klein’s main motive in creating that Google Group was to introduce policy experts, political reporters, and opinion journalists to each other and get them talking to improve everyone’s work. And it succeeded….

That some blogger in his early twenties succeeded in putting that community together was a testimony to Ezra Klein’s sincerity and charm. And it’s the same quality I experienced in 2007, when Ezra devoted a couple of hours to squiring me—a long-time operative of the much-hated Democratic Leadership Council—around a YearlyKos gathering in Chicago, showing people I didn’t have horns and introducing me to many future friends…. He’s earned it, professionally and personally, and unless he’s changed recently, he hasn’t let it go to his head.