The truly interesting questions about Ezra Klein and his Wonkblog are four:
Just what is Ezra Klein doing that gets him 100,000 page views a day (it is a very good day on which I get more than 50,000) and makes out-of-town newspaper bureau chiefs and senior senatorial staffers say that they learn "more from Ezra Klein on any given day than from the entire national news staff of the New York Times"?
Why doesn't Wonkblog face more competition, or at least see more attempted imitators?
Why is Ezra Klein doing this at the Washington Post--an organization that brought opinions-of-shape-of-earth-differ journamalism to its peak, with the ethos of its reporters in the 1990s and 2000s being: "Of course you can't learn anything about what's going on now from our stories, our job is to tell you what a centrist Democrat or lobbyist says and what a right-wing Republican says, so if you want to learn anything wait for the book we are going to
right write in three years or so"?
Can Wonkblog survive at the Washington Post, or will its DNA destroy Wonkblog as we know it?
The New Republic gives Julia Ioffe 5000 words to write about Ezra Klein and call the now 28-year-old "The Wise Boy".
How well does she do at shedding light on these four questions?
When I am asked who is like Ezra Klein but older, my standard answer is Gene Sperling--they both have the same desire to change the world, the same desire to understand what policies work, and the same drive to explain what policies work to a broader audience than just those of us who know what is what. Thus I was not surprised to be told that "Klein and his wife… Annie Lowrey, at… last year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner… spent most of the night talking to Gene Sperling." Who else there would Ezra and Annie have stuff to talk with about, after all?
But Julia Ioffe thinks this shows how Ezra is a devious operator:
“Ezra is an incredible operator,” says one prominent Washington editor. “He is always looking upward at things. You only have to watch him work a party. He moves right to the most important people there.” One friend saw Klein and his wife, New York Times reporter Annie Lowrey, at an event for last year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and noted that they spent most of the night talking to Gene Sperling, Obama’s economic adviser. All of this has allowed Klein to slip easily into the Washington establishment, leaving the rest of his old blogging crew merely doing well, though they are still close…
Ezra warned her at the start of his interviews with her:
"we highly overstate the power of individuals and highly under-rate seeing Washington as a system…" Klein began as we wheeled through the city. He placed particular blame on the media for latching onto trivial matters and overlooking the sticky, more complicated [structural] issues
Did she listen to him, and devote any portion of her 5000 words to Washington as a system?