Listicles! Journalists love listicles the way the President loves playing basketball, without the ladies. We make them, I make them, Mark Halperin could not survive, career-wise, without them. And now Politico's Patrick Gavin has taken this to a new and terrifying level over on Clicklitico by, essentially, composing a listicle of listicles. Gaze upon his works and despair:
Long a popular staple of magazines and newspapers everywhere, lists are an easily digestible and breezy way to understand complicated -- and not-so-complicated -- subjects. But the recent proliferation of Beltway-centric lists may also be due to the increased popularity and sex appeal that Washington is enjoying.
Fun fact! Nobody, but nobody, outside the world of Beltway-centrism and journalists who cover Beltway-centrism believes that Washington, DC is enjoying "increased popularity" or "sex appeal."
Oh, and by the way: Shut up, Garrett Graff!
"The arrival of the Obamas this year has infused the city with national and international attention unlike anything that this city has known this decade," says Garrett Graff, Washingtonian magazine's editor-in-chief. "What people are finding, when they look at the city with fresh eyes, is that it's no longer the sleepy Southern town that it was for many decades."
I'd like to point out that this is the 17,453rd time since I was born, in Washington, DC, that Washington, DC has been said to have finally shaken off its status as a "sleepy Southern town." It is the most enduring cliche in DC-centered journalism, and every time it is deployed, angels die.
Speaking of enduring cliches, did you know that there is a small cottage industry, dedicated to slobbering all over the powerful people in Washington, DC, who are good at forgiving each other for condoning torture but can't get the health care reform package that vast majorities of Americans want, passed? It's true!
Washington Life magazine has The Young & The Guest List, The Wealth List, The A List, The Power 100, The WL Social List and The Philanthropic 50. Capitol File magazine has its Black Book. The Hill has long published its 50 Most Beautiful People, and Roll Call assesses Congress's 50 Richest members each year, in addition to its annual roundup of Staffers to Know.
POLITICO, too, has joined the fray with our lists of D.C.'s Top 50 Party Animals, 50 Politicos to Watch, 25 People You Should Know on the Hill, D.C.'s Most Eligible Singles and more.
Obviously, there could not be more trenchant political content. Or, at least Washington Life senior editor Kevin Chaffee thinks so: "Lists help in this process, especially when they select out the heavyweights among the various pols, press, media, diplomatic and business personalities on the scene." Of course, I still recall that issue of GQ that declared Condoleezza Rice to be the Most Powerful Person in DC. That was being brewed up at GQ around the same time this was happening:
A few months ago, she decided to write an opinion piece about Lebanon. She enlisted John Chambers, chief executive officer of Cisco Systems as a co-author, and they wrote about public/private partnerships and how they might be of use in rebuilding Lebanon after last summer's war. No one would publish it.
Think about that. Every one of the major newspapers approached refused to publish an essay by the secretary of state. Price Floyd, who was the State Department's director of media affairs until recently, recalls that it was sent to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and perhaps other papers before the department finally tried a foreign publication, the Financial Times of London, which also turned it down.
As a last-ditch strategy, the State Department briefly considered translating the article into Arabic and trying a Lebanese paper. But finally they just gave up.
So, yeah: these sorts of listicles aren't often entirely divorced from reality at all.
Dave Weigel calls this Clicklitico Listicle Of Listicles "the most meta article of all time." And for the time being, this is true. But ten years from now, Patrick Gavin will surely pen a Listicle About Listicle About Listicles. At the time of its publication, it will be seen as a brave act of defiance against the alien race who will come to enslave humanity, because of our journalism.