WASHINGTON -- With the White House Correspondents' Dinner upon us, it's time, apparently, for local publications to publish listicles squarely for the purpose of entertaining those in the business.
The wave started with Roll Call detailing nine kinds of Capitol Hill flacks. That, in turn, drew a response from Jim Manley, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's former flack. On Friday, he put up a post replete with GIFs (who knew he had it in him?) titled "11 types of DC Reporters," in which he said The Huffington Post was home to reporters "with an agenda."
As jarring as it was to see in print, Jim's right. HuffPost does have an agenda, and today it's to make Jim Manley's life miserable. So without further ado, a listicle of our own: "10 Types Of Washington, D.C., Sellouts"
1. The Avatar For All That Is Wrong With Washington Sellout
You know this one: This is the flack chosen by a prominent satirical news program to represent the insular, out-of-touch culture endemic to Washington. Juxtaposed with reasonable, clear-thinking comedian/correspondents, the Avatar For All That Is Wrong With Washington comes across as an aloof, toxically wrongheaded proponent of the spineless mediocrity that has failed to produce any meaningful response to the massacre of dozens of innocent children.
2. The "You Know Who I Used To Work For, Right?" Sellout
This person can't stop telling you about how he used to work for a superstar like, say, Ted Kennedy -- had you heard? They had some crazy times, etc., etc.
3. The "Wow, I Cleaned Up Nice, Haven't I?" Sellout
This is the former Hill flack who finally purchased a nice suit and tie with the money he made on K Street and can't stop talking about it.
4. The "So I Have This Client Who's Got This Thing Going On And..." Sellout
A formerly condescending and brusque ex-Capitol Hill big shot who now begs reporters to place lame stories pushed by his PR firm's lame clients.
5. The "Wait, One More Thing" Sellout
The kind of flack who used hang up on you mid-sentence and is now impossible to get off the phone.
6. The "Remember How We Were Sorta Friends On The Hill? I Need Something Now" Sellout
You would see this Hill flack around and make small talk at press events or in line for Noodle Bowl Tuesdays in the House cafe. He found your email when he sold out, and even though you don't remember which backbench lawmaker he worked for, he's milking those fleeting moments of camaraderie to pitch the most painfully news-free stories ever.
7. The "Free Drinks At A Media Party? Of Course I'll Be There!" Sellout
From the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building to downtown rooftops to newsroom cube farms, if there's Miller Lite in a tub full of ice and mid-shelf whiskey in plastic cups, this person will be there, acting like he's never screamed down the phone at you about a totally accurate story he previously refused to comment on.
8. The "Principled Stand Against Becoming A Lobbyist" Sellout
This former Hill staffer and/or agency flack would never dream of slipping on Gucci loafers and carrying water for The Man as a lobbyist. He will, however, eagerly flack for The Man while wearing slightly less expensive loafers that are still nicer than the ones he used to wear.
9. The Sellout Flack Who Can No Longer Remember Why He Got Involved In Politics In The First Place
Drawn to Washington as a youth by the lure of power and a yearning to Make The World A Better Place, this flack now champions weaksauce political candidates and/or the special interests his august bosses used to rail against. This species of sellout is immune to cognitive dissonance and now owns his own home.
10. This One Flack Identified A Worn-Out Meme And You Won't Believe The Weak-Ass Thing That Happens Next
This spokesperson zeroes in on stale media trends -- say, the use of GIFs as a complement to news and opinion writing -- and employs them in an unoriginal format -- say, a listicle categorizing "types" of people whom insiders of a specific field totally know and lulz at. This flack likely responded to the 2003 invasion of Iraq with a well-timed inclusion of the Hamster Dance in a strongly worded Wordpress entry. We eagerly await this flack's "Harlem Shake" rebuttal to next year's State of the Union address.
The Huffington Post, for the record, reached out to Jim before publishing this post. Not to ask for comment but to provide fair warning that it was coming.
"Oh god," he said, "thanks."
Told later that this article is coming from a place of love, he replied once more, "Oh god."
Contributing reporting by Arthur Delaney