Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger, and a contributing editor. He also blogs for the Plum Line at the Washington Post, and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

Fox and Foes

The Fox debacle isn't a tale of media versus government -- it's about a television network trying to rewrite journalism's rules.

This past week, we learned that the White House is "waging war" on Fox News. And what terrifying weapon is the administration wielding? What sinister tactic has the Fox faithful rending their garments? Well, the White House has said that Fox is more a political operation than a news organization, committed to advancing the Republican Party's goals. In other words, the White House is leveling the same charge people have made about Fox for its entire history. Watch the station for more than a few minutes, and you'll see it's true. What's really been revealed in this little dustup is the way television journalists think that they should get to follow a set of rules different from the set their colleagues whose work appears in other media follow. The drama started when White House Communications Director Anita Dunn was quoted as calling Fox "a wing of the Republican Party." Shortly after, adviser David Axelrod appeared on ABC's This Week and said, "[Fox]'s really not news ... and we're...

Twilight of the Op-Ed Columnist

Are syndicated opinion writers a dying breed?

The influential French sociologist Gabriel Tarde wrote in 1898 that newspapers "both enriched and leveled ... the conversations of individuals, even those who do not read papers but who, talking to those who do, are forced to follow the groove of their borrowed thoughts. One pen suffices to set off a thousand tongues." This is what the most influential op-ed columnists are able to do. Yet in the age of the Internet, we don't need to turn to the back of our paper's A-section to get some perspective on the news of the day (if we're still getting the paper, that is). With the proliferation of news sites and blogs, anyone can access the opinions of millions of commentators, some of whom are as good or better at explaining, edifying, entertaining, and persuading than the lions of the op-ed page. So does the op-ed columnist have a future? Not if the newspaper doesn't, and the industry is in what could charitably be called a period of transition. According to the Newspaper Association of...

Their Own Worst Enemy

Health insurers stopped pretending they support reform. In doing so, they may have given new life to the public option.

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Update For months, the insurance industry was remarkably quiet. Despite fears that it would publicly fight reform with a scorched-earth campaign of television ads like it did in 1993, until now it's been subdued. It was part of a carefully planned inside-outside strategy: On the outside, the industry constantly stressed its support of reform, while noting that it objected to some of reform's potential components, like the public option. On the inside, it was furiously lobbying to make sure the bill would maximize its profits and minimize its costs. Outside the halls of Congress -- and even inside those halls -- few took notice. Until last week, when the industry's lobbying group, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) released a study it had commissioned attacking the bill about to be passed by the Senate Finance Committee. They claimed the bill would increase costs, resulting in skyrocketing premiums for consumers. The report was quickly eviscerated for its methodological howlers,...

Attention Must Be Paid.

Although the fact that Olympia Snowe voted for the Finance Committee's version of health-care reform was welcome, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone. If Snowe had voted no, she would have made herself instantly irrelevant, because a no vote there would have guaranteed a no vote on the floor, and another no vote on the conference report that will combine the House and Senate versions. That's because the Finance version is the most conservative bill of the five that have been passed, and it will only get less so as it proceeds. When it gets combined with the version already passed out of the HELP committee, what emerges will be a little more progressive. When that combined bill gets negotiated with the much more progressive House bill, what emerges will be a bit more progressive still (just how much, we don’t know). While there are plenty of details left to argue over, we certainly won’t be getting a more conservative bill at either of those two stages. So if Snowe voted against this...

A Case for Empathy

Last week, we got to see what it looks like when a justice is unable to view the world from another's perspective.

(National Park Service)
Back in 2007, Barack Obama said that if he got the chance to make a Supreme Court appointment, one of his criteria for a justice would be a capacity for "empathy." Conservatives were predictably outraged. But last week, we got to see what it looks like when a justice is unable to view the world from another's perspective. While Salazar v. Buono may not be too important in the grand scheme of things, one particular exchange during oral arguments ought to make conservatives give some thought to the quality of empathy. Because in the years to come, they're going to learn more about it, whether they want to or not. The case concerned a dispute over a large cross erected by the Veterans of Foreign Wars to honor those killed in war. Trouble was, they erected it on federal government land in the Mojave National Preserve. Similar to cases involving other religious displays, the question was whether the government can sponsor what is effectively an endorsement of one particular religion. But...