Ezra Klein refuses to stop!


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.

MADDOW: Now, I feel like I have to live up to that. Thank you very much, Ezra.

KLEIN: No problem. No pressure.
In fact, there’s plenty of pressure—pressure to return the favor at some future point.

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.

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."
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.

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.

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.”
There’s nothing wrong with talking to Sperling. And who knows? That anecdote may be apocryphal too! Just like the one Chuck told!

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.


  1. Ezra, get off my lawn!

    1. I loved that comment the other day about the people who always had more trouble with the child in the Emperor's New Clothes.

    2. The constant thumping of the "get off my lawn" has transformed the original, thin joke into the dubious old saw "never trust anyone over thirty." Laugh it up kiddies, your time will come soon enough.

    3. Charlie BaudelaireAugust 9, 2013 at 7:32 PM

      Bob, our own cutting-and-pasting Madame Defarge, bitterly clicking his knitting needles while knitting names for his fantasied guillotine executions,starting with those he deems members of the Mandarin Class, working his way up to the Swells of Nantucket, and then back to the newest generation of the Mandarin Class.
      Our own thin-slicing Madame Defarge, knitting away while consumed by revenge for past media misconduct and persecution of The Man Who Talked To His Bald Spot While Wearing Earthtones and the liberal world that allowed it to happen.

      Since the 80s,for our own cherry-picking Madame Defarge, it's always been the worst of times.

  2. That's it, I'm going back to being an Earth Firster!

    As crazy as those people are, at least their goals and agendas are spelled out clearly.

  3. Maybe I'll have to have my head examined, but I could swear I heard Ezra refer to Mr. Hayes as "terrific," not "great."

    I sat bolt upright when I heard it. He always calls Rachel "great" but he calls Mr. Hayes "terrific." "Terrific" is pretty good, but it's not "great."

    "We're making distinctions here, right on the air," I thought to myself. "Some of us are 'great' but others are merely 'terrific.'" Does Ezra really not think Hayes is "great"? Or is he ambitiously planting ideas in the heads of highr-ups because he wants Hayes's slot? (Just as Alec Baldwin may be eyeing it hungrily.)

    Maybe I'm wrong and it was an earlier night the qualifying "terrific" was used on poor ratings-challenged Mr. Hayes. Maybe somebody got to Ezra and said if he ever wants to sub-host in this town again he'd better call everybody "great." No exceptions. Ezra's smart. He cooperates, unlike hypersensitive mail-order Russian bride Julia Ioffe, who threw a wall-eyed blog-fit this week because "Grandpa" O'Donnell "yelled" at her for being too nuanced during a 5-minute TV segment.

    (If she considers O'Donnell's superior toned "mansplaining" to be "yelling," they must be pussy cats down at the Kremlin.)

    Assuming Howler's not hallucinating, Ezra's back in form, calling everyone "great" like he's supposed to. But he was calling someone "terrific" the other night. Damning his carefully chosen victim with faint false praise.

    Might as well face it, the life of a reporter is largely one of schmoozing. The process of getting information others don't want in the public eye can be as unseemly as the marketplace in "Casablanca" or the floor of any stock exchange.

    It shouldn't take too jaded a person to observe that those who excel at this noble and necessary game of journalism are among the best schmoozers, bargainers, and (excuse me) whores.

    Remember, had it not been for "Nineteen Eighty-Four" at the very end, Orwell would have died a pauper. Serves his right for calling things as he saw them.

  4. Every time I see Ezra fawning and acting like the smart connected kid, I can't help but think, poor Chris, you have no chance. How soon before your replacement takes over full time? Chris was suckered on the Trayvon Martin story, but generally seems to make an effort to get some balanced points-of-view on his show.

  5. It's all about the Benjamins.
    I would not know Maddow from Hayes from Klein if I tripped over them on the street. Chris Matthews -15 years ago- showed me the lying sacks of spit that cable TV is.
    It's ALL about the DOLLARS.
    Bob, I'm sure this is not a revelation.

  6. Ezra Klein published this today:


    It's modest, direct, and powerful. I expect TDH will shower Ezra with praise any day now.

  7. Guess when you swill too many Gail and Collins, you feel the need to write about nothing too. You just slither back in the chair, put your fingers on the keyboard and stammer to your monitor, "Stop if you've felt me type this before."