Pareene tackles the purveyor of Playbook:
Allen considers press releases from organizations he covers to be plainly newsworthy in their own right and therefore worthy of passing on to his readers because he’s engaged in trade journalism — reporting on a sector for that sector, not for a general audience. You wouldn’t expect Ad Age to suddenly become adversarial toward the advertising industry, would you?
I imagine most other Politico journalists don’t consider what they do “trade journalism” for the business lobbying industry. But that’s what Allen and his bosses consider good political journalism — it informs members of the Washington power elite what other members are up to. Politico didn’t cooperate with Wemple’s piece, and it definitely won’t respond to it, because there’s absolutely no ethical issue involved here, in Politico’s eyes. You’re not Allen’s audience! If you want actual reporting, read one of the rags aimed at people who don’t wield power on Capitol Hill or K Street.
It’s not strictly trade journalism, of course, because a trade journalist might quietly think that the industry she’s covering is immoral or full of hypocrites and villains. That’s decidedly not the case with Allen, who is notoriously chummy with his sources. Allen believes, very deeply, in the business elite consensus. He just doesn’t consider that to be a “political position” as we would define it. This is what annoys and confounds people about Allen and his place in political journalism. He doesn’t act remotely like a real journalist, because he’s not. He’s an advocate journalist masquerading, poorly, as an old-fashioned political reporter. And, yes, during election season he does (very bad) conventional political analysis, but his primary gig is sincere advocate for the interests of a certain class of major corporate lobbyists and their allies. He never tries to hide his sympathies, he just for some reason feels compelled to retain the “objectivity” mask of a traditional big media reporter.