Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a contributing editor for the Prospect and the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

Things That Will Get You Fired From Your Job in Journalism.

We've been hearing a lot of those lately, from inconvenient tweeting to being mean to Matt Drudge in private e-mails. But here's a good one, Romanesko : a few people working for KARK, an NBC affiliate in Little Rock, were fired after they made a video spoofing the life of a local TV reporter. In the video, reporter Pete Thompson complains about his crappy job and hopes to get a better one in Miami. "It was hot as shit outside," he says in a voice-over. "At least in Miami they have beaches. And good coke." Eventually, he begins a stream of invective about how awful it is having to do things like interview idiots at the Malvern Brick Festival before finding some bricks to shoot for B-roll, until he finally slaps an interviewee. Part 2 is more about this guy than about how awful it is to be a TV reporter, but they're both pretty profane (you can watch the videos here ). The station would seem to have a right to be upset that it was shot in their facilities, but if they had shot it...

Home Computing Machines: Will They Succeed?

(Flickr/ Marcin Wichary ) As you debate whether to toss your year-old phone and get yourself a snappy new iPhone (look at that screen!) or a Droid X (a 1-gigahertz processor!), take a moment to think about how far we've come. In that spirit, take a moment to read this awesome article from 1982 in The Atlantic , written by James Fallows . Always an early adopter, Fallows got himself one of those new-fangled word-processing devices for a mere $4,000. After replacing a missing fuse (they had fuses?), he gets the thing up and running, and finds his writing transformed: When I sit down to write a letter or start the first draft of an article, I simply type on the keyboard and the words appear on the screen. For six months, I found it awkward to compose first drafts on the computer. Now I can hardly do it any other way. It is faster to type this way than with a normal typewriter, because you don't need to stop at the end of the line for a carriage return (the computer automatically "wraps"...

McCain Worship Never Dies.

I often decry the cynicism of the press corps -- heck, I did it in my last post -- but allow me to make the case for some more cynicism in one particular case. Today, Slate editor Jacob Weisberg , long a big fan of Sen. John McCain , washes his hands of the former presidential candidate, while still managing to fit in his column nearly all the tropes that made coverage of McCain so maddening for so many years. There's the gratuitous mention of McCain's POW past, lest we forget for a moment that what McCain endured 40 years ago makes him more honorable than the rest of us. There's the repetition of descriptions like "gutsy" and "independent," in explaining how McCain has always been such a lovable rogue. There's the assumption throughout that when McCain was acting in ways the author likes, that was the "true" McCain, and when he was being an opportunistic, pandering, flip-flopping politician -- in other words, acting the way journalists believe most politicians act -- that was a false...

Forget the Truth, Give Me the Spin!

One of the unenviable tasks of the professional spinner is not only to put all developments in the best possible light for your boss or your side but to express optimism so boundless it often becomes inane. "You bet," says the press secretary for the candidate trailing by 20 points, "we're going to win this election!" "The congressman will be vindicated when all the facts come out!" says the spokesperson for the guy caught with a freezer full of cash. Journalists expect this, so they never go too hard on the spinner. After all, he's just doing his job, and we all know what the parameters of that job are. One of the problems with this mutual understanding is that when the spinner steps outside of the pose of ridiculous optimism and talks, for a moment, like a human being, reporters treat it as something of surpassing import. So it was when White House press secretary Robert Gibbs , appearing on Meet the Press yesterday, made the utterly banal observation that "there are enough seats in...

Analog Nostalgia

Making peace with the relentless pace of technological change.

A student studies on a computer in a library commons. (Flickr/Tulane Publications)
In the 1990s, when the World Wide Web was new, breathless news reports warned of con artists, pedophiles, neo-Nazis -- they were lurking in cyberspace. "And now, these vicious predators are seeking new victims … on the Internet! " That kind of cyber-fear-mongering hasn't completely disappeared, but it lost its novelty some time ago. Now that our lives have been thoroughly reorganized around the Web, people are asking not whether it's out to get us but whether it's changing who we are and whether this change is for the better. In his new book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains , technology writer Nicholas Carr argues that our minds themselves are changing. While he used to happily spend hours reading a book or lengthy article, "now my concentration often starts to drift after a page or two. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do." In The Atlantic article (written only two years ago) on which the book is based, Carr wrote that his...

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