Political committment

Yeah, I care about politics and my country, but never so much that I could rise at 4am everyday (so much for that co-hosting gig on Good Morning America, too).  Anyway, the Times has a story today about the armies of young, dedicated political aides who get up before everybody else to start understanding and shaping the day’s news:

Mr. Maldonado, 25, is one of the dozens of young aides throughout the city who rise before dawn to pore over the news to synthesize it, summarize it and spin it, so their bosses start the day well-prepared. Washington is a city that traffics in information, and as these 20-something staff members are learning, who knows what — and when they know it — can be the difference between professional advancement and barely scraping by.

“Information is the capital market of Washington, so you know something that other people don’t know and you know something earlier than other people know it, is a formulation for increasing your status and power,” said David Perlmutter, the director of the University of Iowa’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “So any edge you can use to get stuff faster, earlier, better or exclusively is very important.”

For Mr. Maldonado, who said that “the information wars are won before work,” that means rising early to browse all of the major newspapers, new polling data, ideological Web sites and dozens of news alerts needed to equip his bosses with the best, most up-to-date nuggets.

I bring this article up, though, as in addition to the aforementioned Mr. Moldonado, one of the aides profiled is my former student and academic advisee:

Andrew Bates, a media monitor in the White House communications office, is up by 4 a.m. to look over 30 to 40 Web sites and blogs, as well as watch the morning television news and talk shows, and send out relevant news clips to the top ranks of the administration. He has even been known — with the help of Google Translator — to translate articles from other languages. Mr. Bates could “give anyone in this town a run for their money on ‘Jeopardy,’ ” joked Jen Psaki, the deputy White House communications director.

Mr. Bates, 24, said his early-morning search was aimed at harvesting “something that’s very strong, that advances an argument well, or anything that could be jeopardizing or damaging, like criticism.”

Pretty cool to see one’s own student in the Times.  Andrew’s a very smart young man, but I’m still pretty sure I could take him on Jeopardy.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

2 Responses to Political committment

  1. John says:

    I’d smoke you both!

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