whether it is inevitable that pundits asymptotically approach the bland centrism of David Broder as they become more, um, successful. Successful being defined, I guess, as their writing being placed in high positions at the Newspapers Of Record and equivalent places in other media.
Jim Sleeper eviscerates Fareed Zakaria, one of those climbing the ladder, for a Broder-like condemnation of Drew Westen's non-centrist op-ed of a week or so ago, calling for President Obama to make that Speech That Will Turn Everything Around. I have little sympathy for Westen's point of view, but making it doesn't make him a bad guy. And he might even turn out to be right.
I saw someone comparing Ezra Klein to Broder the other day, but I don't have the link.
I'm not sure Zakaria ever espoused opinions much different from those he opines now, but Klein used to be more pungent when he blogged.
As one goes higher into the realms of Important Journalism, one learns that a certain soporific tone, not making bad guys of either side, is useful, even popular. Most people don't like conflict. And in those realms, one is exposed to others who have vested interests in keeping that journalistic conflict down. I linked the other day to Emptywheel's quoting a poll in which Washington, DC, was the only region of the country in which the predominant opinion was that things are getting better.
As one goes higher, things get busier. Obviously Klein has had interns researching his material as he joined the various magazines and newspapers. Lately, he's added a bunch of bloggers, with a promise of some Great New Thing for his blog. Anyone who has a television show, like Zakaria, depends on many people to bring him material and has little time to do his own research. So the anodyne opinion becomes easier to hold, less work.
So is it inevitable that opinions become diluted as one climbs that ladder of success?
Update: Some observations of tv punditry from a talking head.