Monday, September 5, 2011

Worth Reading

There are some wonderful sources out there for reporting and opinion, and I hope to cite them with regularity.  I’ll start with the three major national dailies: The Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.  The Times and the Post have some excellent political reporting and a number of op-ed columnists worth reading.  The WSJ has first rate political reporting as well, but has fallen out of the top tier in analysis on the editorial side.  Some of the other big newspapers such as the L.A. Times and Chicago Tribune do a very good job on local matters, but budget cuts at Tribune Company have cut to the bone on their coverage of national political events.  Still, there’s real value in looking at local newspapers for specific candidates and issues.  The Milwaukee Journal had solid coverage of the Scott Walker against the unions face-off, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune covered the Al Franken recount very well (as well as the past government shut-down), and the Miami Herald has solid coverage of Governor Scott.  Those of us living in the Northeast Corridor tend to think you need a skyscraper to write well, but if we follow that lead, we will miss about 80 percent of what’s going on. 

On the reporting side, from the Times, Peter Baker and Matt Bai are quite good. John Harwood is excellent.  For opinion, David Brooks (when he’s not too preachy) and Ross Douthat are often very solid from the right.

Thomas Friedman deservedly gets a lot of the limelight (although he’s far better internationally than domestically), but Roger Cohen is very insightful on European matters is specific and foreign policy in general, and well worth the read. 

The Washington Post, unsurprisingly, has some great nitty gritty political reporting.  Read Chris Cilzza-better yet, sign up for an afternoon update-he’s very sharp and very wired in.  Dan Balz is terrific.  David Broder, sadly, is irreplaceable.  On the opinion side, some of the Post’s right wing columnists, George Will, Mark Theissen, Michael Gerson, and Charles Krauthammer are worth reading, although Krauthammer has such a personal animus regarding Obama that he can blunt a good argument with his anger   Paul Krugman, of The Times can sometimes fall into the same trap in the opposite direction.  The Post’s E.J. Dionne is superb; one of the best out there, Dana Milbank is terrific, Ezra Klein writes well, and Richard Cohen is worth reading.

The Wall Street Journal has the excellent Gerald Seib, and “Washington Wire”.  Unfortunately, since Rupert Murdoch has added the Journal to his Fox News Empire, the editorial and opinion coverage has deteriorated.  Rarely do we see a well argued piece anymore-it’s simply a closed loop of Obama-hating.  This is a tragedy.  The Journal was always very conservative on its editorials, but had room for Al Hunt from the left and other more moderate voices, including Alan Murray, who is still at the Journal, but in a different role.  Now, it’s just an extension of the GOP and Karl Rove gets a regular column.  Even Peggy Noonan has become reflexive. 

Newscorp, however, also owns Barron’s, which has the very sophisticated Gene Epstein, and the superb Tom Donlan, with who I often disagree but am almost always educated by.  Donlan is one of the few who truly write straight up-he writes clearly and with great consistency in support of free markets.  He's the first thing I read on Saturday mornings.