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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

The Christie-Hillary Connection, The Fence, and Ezra Klein as Catfish Hunter

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Jake Tapper’s candid response to my questions Wednesday on the disparity of media treatment accorded Governor Christie in the aftermath of “Bridge gate” and that accorded Secretary of State Clinton following Benghazi  –“Well obviously, Christie is getting a lot more attention when it comes to Bridgegate than Hillary got when it came to Benghazi”– has generated quite a lot of comment online and in the Twitterverse. (The full transcript of my interview with Tapper is here.)

It is quite obviously the case that the Manhattan-Beltway media elite is intent on ending Christie’s career and protecting Hillary’s, and Jake’s observation simply underscores one of the realities Republicans have to deal with.  Christie is dealing with it very well, but his next step should be to engage in a long interview with a single reporter, preferably one who knows the issues thoroughly and wants to explore them, not merely bleed Christie.  I think that sit-down should come soon.  If Christie is still in the 2016 hunt, every time he draws the obvious contrast with a hiding Hillary by his actions and others’ words, he wins another round in a political contest that may never end up occurring, but which if it does, he will be much happier for having waged from now forward.

Two other interviews from yesterday’s program which also deserve your read.

The House GOP is getting ready to screw up immigration reform, and in the process divide their party. Again.  It is like watching Groundhog Day –only again and again and again.  That was the signal in The New York Times’ Michael Shear’s piece from Monday, which I discussed with him yesterday.  (Transcript here.)  Short memo to The Speaker and Ms. Tallent:  If the GOP’s first bill in the House doesn’t include a long, high, double-sided border fence with access road along it –covering at least half the 2,000 mile border– the bill will be a disaster.  If it does, the bill will pass and the base will be at ease.  The “debate” is, was, and alway will be about (1) a fence, which is the visible expression of an invisible resolve to control the border which is what voters want, and (2) the “path to citizenship” v. the “path to regularization,” which apparently the House GOP caucus has figured out.  It would be good to solve the huge problem of the undocumented via regularization of their status, but a political disaster to introduce a bill that splits the party.  So build the fence and make the language doing so so clear, and the triggers for regularization so completely tied to fence completion, that no one can doubt you.  Then yell “Olly olly oxen free” and hand out green cards on the day the fence is built.  It will work.  Voters will applaud.  This isn’t that complicated.

Finally I name check quite a few young journalists who appear on my show in the course of discussing the Ezra Klein story with Politico’s Dylan Byers Wednesday, the transcript of which conversation is here.  Ezra is the Catfish Hunter of the young blogger-journalist generation, but whether his next season is Cy Youngish or Wayne Garland-like remains to be seen, and every young journalist worth his-or-her salt is toasting Ezra this week, as well as quite a few older journalists who have online followings and visions of big paydays.  (Indian fans will understand that Garland reference instantly.)  I think Klein does very good work for a lefty, throws the occasional spanner (usually on matters of law and especially Constitutional law) but has benefitted greatly from the Washington Post brand, and the lack of that brand may put him in danger of becoming –slowly but surely– another Kos/Media Matters hard left fortress which don’t matter beyond the walls of their particular kingdom of already committed hard-core Democrat votes.  Watch and see.  Byers and I discuss the key differences between Nate Silver and Ezra Klein, and the folks who generate traffic in the future are going to be the Costas, the Bensons, the Hams, the Feldmans and the Markays who bring real news and analysis, or the Betsy Rothsteins who bring entertaining dish.  Ezra may have been a false positive for the chin-strokers, who think his writing was drawing crowds for its analytical content, when in fact it was drawing Obama supporters looking for hope that their hope wasn’t as thin as they thought it was.

A bold move by the Post post-Klein?  Bring back Dave Weigel, and sign everyone else who matters under the age of 30 who can pull 10,000 page views in a week.  Be the Yankees.  Boudn to be a few conservatives in that mix, and it would consolidate my show prep.


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