I’ve really never had any strong feelings about Dana Milbank. His column is designed to present a reader with color and not substance, and so when I see him at hearings that I cover I don’t read his stuff afterward to make sure that I didn’t miss an important detail like I will with a Siobhan Gorman piece or a Noah Shachtman piece. And that’s fine. There’s clearly a market for people who want to read about politics or policy as a spectacle in a newspaper, and Milbank feeds that market well. It’s not something that I particularly want as a reader, and so I don’t read his material, and I don’t need to, and that’s fine, and everyone’s happy. Takes all types and all that.
But it’s more than a little silly for Milbank to act like he’s a journalistic crusader while writing the material he writes. Here’s Nico, covering one of the biggest stories of the year in an innovative fashion, throwing a tough question at Obama in the process, and there’s Milbank, focusing on… the meta-question of the White House coopting Nico as a public-diplomacy strategy. The trivial mixes very poorly with the serious, and it’s really in poor form to call Nico a dick for pointing that out. I’ve lived in Washington for seven years now, and each passing year I fear that I’ll drink too much of the water that evidently interferes with a person’s capacity for self-awareness.