Bill Boyarsky: High School All Over Again!
Washington journalism is like high school. It has the same cool kids, mean girls, social rankings and the big prom, the White House Correspondents' Association's annual dinner. Butunlike what happens in high school, the insular behavior of the Washington media affects the whole nation. The voive of the cool kids is Mike Allen's Playbook column on the Politico website, emailed early morning to addicted readers such as me. The column, interestingly, is titled "POLITOCO Playbook, presented by the American Petroleum Institute." It is a mixture of breaking news, plugs for books by Washington A-list writers and a detailed recitation of weddings, births, job changes, dinner dates, vacations and birthdays of those hot enough to attract Mike's notice. Halfway through the column is a word from the apparent sponsor. On Monday, it was: "A message from the American Petroleum Institute: Americans from all walks of life are becoming energy voters. They know America needs more energy from all sources, including domestic oil and natural gas, to create jobs and get our economy moving." For those who missed it, the message was repeated at the end. As someone who labored through the social maze of high school, I can only pity those whose wedding or birthday don't make Mike's column. But it gets worse. The mean girls weigh in at Fishbowl DC, a column at the Media-bistro website. Fishbowl sarcastically names those who have fallen from grace, or never made it. Then it hounds them, sometimes for days or weeks at a time. Then there is the annual White House Correspondent's Association Dinner, where the journalists mingle with their guests, many of them Hollywood celebrities. The guest list becomes more famous every year. On Monday, I scrolled through The Washington Post website's coverage of the parties held after dinner. This is how The Post led off its display of images: "At the 2012 MSNBC and Bloomberg/Vanity Fair after-parties, Hollywood celebrities and Capitol power brokers keep mingling into the night."