Today’s Style section includes a glowing read about newspaper-curmudgeon-turned-influential-blogger David Yepsen. In a telling anecdote, the story describes how the political columnist for the Des Moines Register fired up a blog on just what Hill needs to do to win the hearts and minds of Iowans and then his phone rang. “Senator,” he said. “Why are you calling me?” Well, shucks, Mr. Iowan journo fond of sweater vests, the most powerful woman in America just wants some advice. Can’t you help her out?
The piece describes another choice detail: Yepsen huddled with Clinton and her Iowa campaign director at dinner in a private room. No other press were invited.
Here’s another headline that ran in the Post: “Clinton Wins Key Endorsement. Des Moines Register Cites her ‘Readiness’ for the Presidency.”
Iowans have long relished their importance in picking the horses for the rest of us. Likewise, the Register has long relished its role as a perceived kingmaker. It’s even more important, then, that its reporters and columnists draw a clear line between being a critic and being an advisor. Sources try this trick with reporters they come to know all the time. They’ll call up a journo and elevate the relationship. Just between you and me, they’ll say: What would you do? This is followed by: I trust your opinion, bla, bla, bla.
It’s horse shit.
Yepsen should be ashamed by the Post story about him and his implied fawning over Clinton, especially in light of his paper’s endorsement of her. And the Post should have called him out on it. Giving advice to a candidate in a heated race while also covering that race isn’t a feather to replace the press card in your hatband. Stick to sweater vests, Yepsen, and leave the strategy to the people paid to do it.