Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

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Giving Politicians the Benefit of the Doubt – “Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics”

June 15th, 2011 · No Comments · Ethics, Journalism, Newspapers, Political Communication, Political Fiction, Politics, Spin, The Media

Joe Klein on the reception of the book….

All these politicians had the same message for me: Don’t worry about the press, keep writing and … oh, by the way, you really got it right in Primary Colors. In gratitude, I decided to start giving politicians the benefit of the doubt, especially on trivial things. I’ve had a no-gotcha rule ever since: A politician can retract, without penalty, anything he or she tells me on the record, as long as it doesn’t involve a matter of national import. I think I have a better appreciation now for who politicians are, and for what they do. I know, I know, the default position on politicians is cynicism—but for many journalists cynicism is the default position on everything, and our democracy has suffered as a result. This was another lesson I learned from being a mini-pariah: cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

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