Wednesday, March 9, 2011

David Broder, RIP

The great David Broder died today. He was 81.

Broder received plenty of grief from liberals over the last decade or more, much of it in my view deserved. What younger liberals may not fully realize is that Broder had been a truly great reporter. Outstanding. And, as Ross Baker says in the WaPo obit, Broder was a leader in listening to, and taking seriously, academic experts. Just as he was a leader at listening to, and taking seriously, voters.

In recent years, I was as eager as anyone to bash Broder for his prejudices when it came to politics and public policy. When it comes down to it, Broder was a much better reporter than he was a columnist...when he used the column to supplement his reporting, then it was an okay fit, but when it was just his opinions, I thought he ran into trouble.

But the truth is we know a lot more about the world because of all that reporting David Broder did. We could use a lot more like him. He was a great American, and will be missed.


  1. No one who's read Perlstein's Nixonland can take the notion of a younger, detached, serious, non-hack Broder seriously.

    Nixon owed the legend of Muskie in tears to the not-yet-dean, among other assists. Broder's uncritical coverage was part and parcel of the manufacturing process in '66 and '67 that produced the New Nixon.

  2. Could Broder get stuff wrong and be spun? Sure. All reporters do that. But Broder also gave plenty of worthwhile information to his readers.

    One thing I missed, which someone mentioned today: he was also the rare Washington reporter who treated the states as important. Again, that sometimes meant being spun by governors, but that's not a terrible price for readers to pay for getting the reporting in the first place.

  3. I am sorry to hear he died, but I am wondering if this also means that we have to retire the phrase "High Broderism," which was excellent shorthand not only for a certain set of journalistic assumptions but for the kind of grandiose editorial pronouncements they seemed to generate. If I could assign David Broder any task in the afterlife, it would be to spend a few years covering the American politics of the 1790s. I wonder how his relentless middle-of-the-roadism would hold up if he found himself in the middle of a bunch of Founding Fathers who regularly denounced each other as traitors, dictators and agents of foreign powers.


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