Researcher and Writer in Washington, DC

Patrick B. Pexton, “The Post Needs Less on Politics, More on Government,” Washington Post, January 1, 2013


In an episode of the West Wing, a reporter tells the Bartlet Administration he is not going to write about a mini-scandal. When asked why, he pithily responds, “It’s gossip, not news.”

Politics and personality do matter. To get things done, it certainly helps to have people who can get along with one another. (See Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein’s The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track (Oxford University Press, 2008), which points out the today’s Members of Congress do not spend much time in DC getting to know one another.)

However, far too much of media ink and energy gets spent chasing stupid, trite, and ultimately meaningless non-stories. Consider, for example, the media has way over-covered Grover Norquist and his anti-tax pledge. Meanwhile, the activities of a venture capital fund started by the CIA gets very little coverage.

Patrick B. Pexton, Ombudsman for the Washington Post, thankfully calls on his own newspaper to spend more of its shrinking resources on covering the work of agencies—in short, “less politics, more government.” Read more at


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