Opening Act: A Chance at the Bright Lights

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 5 2013 8:13 AM

Opening Act: A Chance at the Bright Lights

Frank Bruni, the replacement-level columnist for the New York Times, filed a Sunday piece on a topic so few people had the courage to cover. Yes: He wrote about Anthony Weiner. And he made it about Olivia Nuzzi, the young journalist who interned for the Weiner campaign then started writing about it when it collapsed. Despite his access to some of the most powerful words any journalist can ask for when calling a source—"I'm calling from the New York Times"—Bruni lazily described Nuzzi not as a journalist but as a "college student" who "saw a chance at bright lights and went after it, spilling secrets in return for a glamour shot on the front page of a major newspaper."

As Paul Carr explains, Nuzzi actually was told by the New York Daily News that her photo wouldn't make the cover. Then it did. Sarah Lacy makes the most perceptive point, after arguing that Weiner spokeswoman Barbara Morgan temporarily won.

The fact that she kept her job after calling 20-year-old Nuzzi a fame whore, and a twat and a slut bag is amazing. But far worse is that she succeeded in cementing the world’s view of Nuzzi. And she succeeded precisely because Nuzzi isn’t all the things that Morgan alleged. She didn’t want to be the focus of the story, so she turned down multiple offers to go on TV and tell her side of things. She didn’t want to be the fame whore that Morgan alleged. But in doing so, she gave up her opportunity to reframe the narrative. It was almost extortion by the press: Don’t want to be called a fame whore? Then come on TV and make your case!
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Terry McAuliffe would be in better shape now if his car company was better at selling vehicles than selling visas.

Kim Strassel keeps up the parallel-universe reporting on the IRS scandal, in which a 501 that only ever ran campaign ads had its rights to tax exemption unfairly challenged by Obama thugs.

The policies from the State of the Union are—hold on to something—not moving through Congress.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.