Apr 28, 2023
Why this week’s media meltdown was years in the making – and what comes next
This week in Washington – more so than anytime in Joe Biden’s presidency
– the news has been all about… the news.
To start, it’s the weekend of the White House Correspondents Association
Dinner. But outside of the brunches and parties, a different type of
media intrigue has been dominating politics.
BuzzFeed News, the colossus of yesteryear’s viral reporting and the
entity that published the infamous Steele Dossier about Donald Trump,
announced that it was shutting down for good.
On Monday, Fox News fired Tucker Carlson, their top-rated host. Within
an hour, Don Lemon announced he was parting ways with CNN, where he had
worked for 17 years.
On Thursday, Vice News, another struggling pioneer of 21st century
digital news, became the latest media company to lay off some of its
best known reporters.
These are all isolated events with circumstances specific to each
newsroom. But in an excellent new book called Traffic: Genius, Rivalry,
and Delusion in the Billion-Dollar Race to Go Viral, Ben Smith argues
that we are indeed at the end of an era in media, but that the next one
might be something to look forward to.
That’s a forceful prediction coming from Ben, who was a longtime
reporter at POLITICO, the top editor at BuzzFeed News, a New York Times
media columnist, and now is the editor-in-chief of Semafor. He’s also
this week’s Playbook Deep Dive guest.
Ben’s book and this interview with Deep Dive Host and Playbook co-author
Ryan Lizza do their best to answer the questions we all have about why
our political culture is so fragmented, and whether there is any hope
that we can return to a place where Americans agree on simple things —
Ryan Lizza is a Playbook co-author for POLITICO.
Ben Smith is the editor-in-chief of Semafor.
Afra Abdullah is an associate producer for POLITICO audio.
Kara Tabor is a producer for POLITICO audio.
Alex Keeney is a senior producer for POLITICO audio.
Jenny Ament is the executive producer for POLITICO audio.