The Washington Post's Paul Farhi wrote Monday how President Obama rarely gives interviews to reporters at major newspapers, a long-running strategy that continued during the re-election campaign and now into the second term.
"For Obama, newspapers are only for reading," ran the Post headline atop Monday's print Style section. The Web headline: "Obama keeps newspaper reporters at arm's length."
But that doesn't include one columnist and blogger at Farhi's own newspaper. The New Republic's Julia Ioffe, in a profile released Monday but not yet online, writes that Ezra Klein, the "28-year-old prince of D.C. media," apparently has the president's ear.
By all accounts, he is doing the underlying job--understanding complex policy and translating it for the interested layman--well. Scholars, policy professionals, and journalists respect him, as do a handful of fellow wonks in the West Wing. "His voice matters a lot," says a White House official. "The president talks to Ezra."
Obama has never been one to regularly mix it up with White House reporters, but has held several off-the-record meetings at the White House with mostly left-of-center columnists, cable hosts and pundits to outline his policy ideas and agenda.
During his first term, Obama proved more willing to give on-the-record interviews to preferred television journalists and anchors, most notably "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft, than to newspapers. He hasn't sat down for an on-the-record interview with the Post and Wall Street Journal since 2009, or New York Times was in Sept. 2010.
It's unclear if the unnamed White House official was referencing Klein's attendance at one of the off-the-record White House gatherings, which have included fellow liberal Post columnists such as Eugene Robinson and E.J. Dionne, or if they've spoken one-on-one. Klein didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Klein's trajectory from Journolist founder and up-and-coming liberal blogger to Washington Post rising star and Wonkblog overseer, has been closely chronicled over the past few years. And Ioffe's profile -- which looks at how Klein's cultivated his brand through the years and gets downright meta at times when the two discuss her process of reporting it -- won't be the last in the Klein canon. New York magazine also has a Klein profile in the works.
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