On Pareene’s 2012 ‘Hack’ List: Oh, Everyone

“Who’s Pareene?” asked Michael Goldfarb of The Free Beacon. He tweeted the question yesterday linking to a Salon column that named The Drudge Report‘s Matt Drudge as 2012’s No. 5 biggest media “hack.”

Assuming it was a serious question from Goldfarb, Alex Pareene, whose mustache sometimes makes him look like a porn star, is a writer at Salon and the news world’s favorite ginger. Each year he names his personal 10 “hacks” in news media that are “hurting America.” While the not-that-much-anticipated list is harmless, it causes a buzz for directly and brazenly (or, as brazenly as can be done sitting at a keyboard) calling out big names in news.

Over the last two days, the list trickled out full of the kind of angst generally reserved for misunderstood teenagers in high school courtyards. In the end, we couldn’t help but think that in a few places, Pareene colored outside the lines.

No. 1 on the list is Politico, which Pareene said is founded on “a myth” that its reporting is “exclusive” when in fact it’s the same old Beltway journalism.

He specifically named Executive Editor Jim VandeHei and White House Correspondent Mike Allen as the driving forces behind Politico‘s hackery. Of Allen, who writes the widely-read Playbook tip sheet, Pareene said he is “paid a fortune” for emailing out “a bunch of links to day-old news stories.” It’s a business model Pareene has apparently mastered so well, it’s a wonder he’s not making his own fortune copying it. Or, maybe he’s pissed he didn’t think of it first?

Pareene dismissed all of Politico‘s election coverage. “No one reading any of these pieces … gained any genuine insight into the state of the presidential race,” he said. And yet, even after the election, Politico maintains high web traffic (though on election night, traffic climbed to 2.2 million page views an hour) which brings in money and allows the publication to expand.

In case Pareene wasn’t aware, it turns out there’s an audience for people who want to read about politics– in fact, every teeny tiny detail on the subject. Pareene doesn’t understand it. He’s kind of like a gorilla frustrated that he can’t make the star-shaped block go through the square-shaped hole.

It’s the audience he should hate. They’re reading Politico. Even if he doesn’t see why they should.

Moving on to No. 2 on the list…WaPo; specifically its opinion page. “The Washington Post has the worst opinion section of any major newspaper in the country,” Pareene said.

More specifically, Pareene doesn’t like that WaPo publishes conservative voices. And they’re not even the right-wing conservatives; they’re the mainstream R’s who get invited on Sunday shows (incidentally, “Sunday shows” come in at No. 4 on the list).

The columnists Pareene took issue with: Robert Samuelson (“supply-sider”), George Will, Charles Lane (“he’s a conservative”), Marc Thiessen (“torture enthusiast”) and Charles Krauthammer. He also named the fairly innocuous, apolitical Richard Cohen because he’s… “wheezy.”

So Pareene doesn’t like conservative writers. Why not just say that?

Of Drudge (No. 4), Pareene said the site is “more irrelevant than ever.”

Drudge is run by roughly three people and, if nothing else, has the power to set the agenda for the cable news channels. May the site’s founder never take tips from Pareene on how to be less relevant. He’ll end up working for a publication that makes you think of blow dryers.

The list is hardly anything more than acting out. Other “hacks”: NYT, CNN and HuffPost. Essentially, take any news outlet that’s ever been the opposite of irrelevant and it’s on the list.

“I don’t really read Pareene… I’m not sure many folks do,” a D.C. reporter remarked to FishbowlDC on condition of anonymity. “I appreciate the bull-in-china-shop effort but somehow it fails to break anything… he calls Drudge irrelevant and Politico unessential… he writes for Salon.”