Professions must be made: On Monday night, the analysts screamed, then explained what Ezra had done.
He was guest-hosting for Chris Hayes. He had started the program like this:
KLEIN (8/5/13): Good evening from New York. I’m Ezra Klein, sitting in for the great Chris Hayes.Gack! We’ve warned you to check your wallets when you see the children do that. This is part of a marketing campaign designed to convince you that they and their colleagues are “great.”
Confidentially, they and their colleagues aren’t great. If they were, they shouldn’t be in charge of announcing the fact.
But the following night, the screams came again. We hurried into the viewing chamber, arriving moments too late:
KLEIN (8/6/13): Good evening, from New York. I am Ezra Klein, in for the great Chris Hayes.Ruthlessly, Ezra had done it again. At the end of the show, it got worse:
KLEIN (8/6/13): That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show, with the great Rachel Maddow, starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.In fact, there’s plenty of pressure—pressure to return the favor at some future point.
MADDOW: Now, I feel like I have to live up to that. Thank you very much, Ezra.
KLEIN: No problem. No pressure.
Things were even worse last night. Here’s the way Ezra started:
KLEIN (8/8/13): Good evening, from Washington. I’m Ezra Klein, sitting in for the one and the only Christopher L. Hayes.Kidding aside, a new generation is telling you that they plan to be in your heads a long time. You are being sold on their wonders. This has all happened before.
When Sam and Cokie and them came along, they seemed like a bright new generation. Things didn’t really turn out all that well. But the sale had been made long before.
Are Chris and Ezra and Rachel and them a new gang of Sam and Cokies? On balance, we’re going to say that they are, although we don’t think you’ll believe that.
Now, let’s compare combs: You may recall a comparison we once made. In November 2000, USA Today’s Peter Johnson profiled the way the late Tim Russert used to work a room with his wife:
JOHNSON (11/1/00): “I've never seen anyone work this town the way they did,” Washingtonian writer Chuck Conconi says of Russert and his wife, Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth, who live in Washington's tony Cleveland Park in a house that has a media pedigree: Previous owners include PBS' Charlie Rose, NBC's Tom Brokaw and New York Times columnist James Reston.There's nothing wrong with that, of course, depending in part on your view of Russert's work. To recall the way he worked the room at Rumsfeld's Christmas party, you can just click here.
Conconi recalls a tale about Russert and Orth being spotted at a cheap hamburger joint in Georgetown after an exclusive party at Pamela Harriman's house after President Clinton's first election. "They are masters of the Washington social scene. They know you don't go to parties to eat or drink. You go there to work." The anecdote may be apocryphal, Conconi says, "but I can't think of a story that rings more true."
Twelve years later, Julia Ioffe profiled Ezra and mentioned his wife, Annie Lowrey. Was Conconi back on the prowl?
IOFFE (2/12/13) “Ezra is an incredible operator,” says one prominent Washington editor. “He is always looking upward at things. You only have to watch him work a party. He moves right to the most important people there.” One friend saw Klein and his wife, New York Times reporter Annie Lowrey, at an event for last year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and noted that they spent most of the night talking to Gene Sperling, Obama’s economic adviser.There’s nothing wrong with talking to Sperling. And who knows? That anecdote may be apocryphal too! Just like the one Chuck told!
All of this has allowed Klein to slip easily into the Washington establishment, leaving the rest of his old blogging crew merely doing well, though they are still close. “I had no conception of, or ambition of, trying to run a multimedia empire,” says Matthew Yglesias, a good friend of Klein’s who was also the closest thing he had to a rival. “He obviously wanted much, much more.”
The people you see on TV are not great. That said, you can guess that they're rather ambitious; that they're in it for the long haul; and that you and your neighbors are being sold concerning their manifest greatness.
To everything there is a season! This is the season for selling.