NPR Takes On The Prince of Darkness

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Pop Quiz: One of these so-called Princes of Darkness has bitten the head off a live bat on stage. The other only does it in private. Which is which? Email us with your answer.

NPR’s On the Media tore into the Washington establishment this week, ripping the Times’ Bumiller for “beat sweetening” with a suck-up piece to new WH CD Nicolle Devenish and dissecting the infamous reporting of the Prince of Darkness (a.k.a. Ozzy Osbourne, a.k.a. Bob Novak).

It’s worth a listen if only to hear Brooke Gladstone get huffy with insider Harry Jaffe of the Washingtonian before he breaks down and admits that–shock–he’s part of the Washington press corps:

HARRY JAFFE: You know, look – this is a game we’re playing here. Elisabeth Bumiller needs information from the White House. You know, the journalists really, in this town, really would rather not get totally frozen out. They’d like to have their questions answered. Elisabeth Bumiller wrote a very sweet profile of Nicolle Devenish. Well, why not? Nicole Devenish is not walking into the situation and saying, you know, you’re a bunch of slime and you know, stay out of the White House, we’re not going to talk to you.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: Okay. I’ll tell you why not, Harry. The reason why not is because of the phenomenon in Washington called the beat sweetener. You do a lot of pieces that the White House will like, and then you can assume that the White House will talk to you. Well, it hasn’t worked much in the first term, because the Bush White House spoke to practically nobody. But if this means that there’s an opening, then that means there’ll also be a lot more beat sweetener stories, and those aren’t necessarily going to inform the public.

HARRY JAFFE: Look – this is the beginning of the dance of the second term. You know, why not sweeten the beat a little bit? You know, in talking to Harry Jaffe, let’s face it, you’re talking to a member of the Washington press corps. That’s how the game is played here.