02/12/2013 09:58 am ET

Ezra Klein's New Republic Profile Gets Very Awkward When The Media Comes Up

Washington Post writer/Bloomberg columnist/MSNBC contributor Ezra Klein is one of the stars of the media world — but that doesn't mean that being profiled doesn't drive him crazy.

That's what Julia Ioffe found out when she tagged along with Klein for a story in the latest issue of The New Republic. The article is mostly friendly, and features a series of pictures of a laughing, smiling Klein. It traces the by-now-familiar story of Klein's speedy rise through the ranks, as well as his influence in media and political circles. (Even President Obama is interested in what he thinks, a White House official tells Ioffe.)

Towards the end of the profile, though, things take an awkward turn. Klein, Ioffe writes, told her that she could not speak to anyone in his family, and warned her that any emails she saw of his were off the record. He also said that he was intensely worried that she would twist his words and make him look bad:

“You seem great, but there’s no reason not to be careful,” he said, his frustration herniating through the professorial polish, his voice going tense. “I think journalists are completely irresponsible about how they use people and how they use quotes. All the time.”

Ioffe then writes that, even though he seemed so angsty about the process, Klein was actually getting profiled by New York magazine at the very same time:

The “people above me” he said, “seem to think it’s a good idea.” It would bring in readership, and Klein felt it would be “hypocritical” not to cooperate with the press when he, the press, was con- stantly asking people to cooperate with him. It was almost too meta to bear. “You’re sitting there taking notes and recording while I’m sitting here taking notes and recording,” he said. “It’s a peculiar situation!”

He later told Ioffe he found the conversation "slightly threatening."

The Awl's Alex Balk wrote that the lesson of Klein's profile was simple: "If there's anything I can teach you in the short time I have left let it be this: DO NOT DO INTERVIEWS. You just can't win."



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