Politico’s front page right now is leading with “How long will Rahm remain?” and a huge picture of the chief of staff looking speculative, pensive, mischievous, evil… whatever. The story starts like this:
“He’s not going anywhere,” a White House aide said. “He’s working every day on health care, Afghanistan, the economy and implementing the president’s agenda. All this talk that he would go anywhere comes from people who don’t know him.”
In reading the story, however, it’s clear that the only people here who are asking those questions he’s having to fend off are the story’s authors, Glenn Thrush and Mike Allen. Everyone quoted basically says the same thing: he’s still involved, he’s fine, he’s doing his job, he’s busy. The quotes, by the way, are almost all from unnamed sources, with the exception of a few sentences from Emanuel’s old executive director at the DCCC and a little over a full sentence from Rep. Steve Israel. Everyone else is “a Senate staffer,” “an aide,” “a House Democrat close to Emanuel.”
This is crap journalism, forcing a story just to have a story on the front page. It’s not terribly far away from publishing a piece called, “Is Barack Obama a Space Alien?” Imagine:
“He’s not a space alien,” a White House aide said. “He’s fully human and he always has been. All this talk that he’s an alien is from people who don’t know crap.”
Sure, asking whether Emanuel is planning to leave on the two-year schedule he mentioned is a legitimate question. And it has been asked many times recently thanks to Sally Quinn’s speculation in The Washington Post. But when everyone answers the question in the negative, and you even manage to pile up convincing evidence that he’s sticking around in Washington for a while (there’s a list at the end of the piece of personal moves that signal he’s planning to stay in D.C.), why run the story? Better: why run the story with a lede that implies this is still an open question? Emanuel himself — not quoted here — said conclusively on Sunday that he’s staying in Washington. Why not mention that in a three-page story about that exact topic?
Is it just that, having given those hours to investigation, Allen and Thrush have to somehow make Politico some money? Or were the writers there bitter that Mark Halperin’s new book was taking the crown for political gossip today?