Is Ezra Klein the new David Broder?

The buzz is already starting about Ezra Klein’s visit to Reed College on September 28, kicking off this year’s Public Policy Lecture Series.  I’m pleased that his appearance looks like it will appeal not just to students, but also faculty, staff, and community members.  I’m a bit worried that we’ll overwhelm our 350 person auditorium!

I’ve also had to field questions about whether Klein is appropriately “academic” for our little college.  That issue has been largely been put to rest–appearances by Dennis Ross, Susan Rice, among others, have demonstrated that the distinction between the world of the academy and the world of policy is a distinction without a difference.  Reedies like to think big thoughts, but they also like to see those thoughts in action.

But Klein is more than just a journalist in my experience, and he shows his academic side in today’s column about a new article by Columbia University economist Michael Woodford.   Klein understands political science models that forecast election outcomes. He has  defended political science against attempts to defund our research.  And he shows up every year at our annual meeting.

It’s a little early in his career to compare Klein to David Broder, the long time Washington Post columnist who was a longtime member of APSA, regularly attended our meetings, and helped to popularize and legitimize our work.

But Klein is starting out really well.  In my mind, he’s a perfect fit for the Little Red Schoolhouse.

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8 Responses to Is Ezra Klein the new David Broder?

  1. Cheryl says:

    Wait a minute…you aren’t really comparing Klein to Broder FAVORABLY, are you? I cannot imagine anything worse for Ezra than to become known as the “next David Broder.” Broder was an example of the worst possible type of journalistic pundit who pontificates from inside the Beltway, and knows nothing at all about the world.
    Please God, let Ezra Klein NOT become the next David Broder.

    • Paul Gronke says:

      I liked and respected David Broder’s work.

      • Rick says:

        It is possible that there could be generational differences in perception of Broder’s career – a cohort that remembers his generally exceptional journalistic career, and a cohort whose exposure mostly consisted of his late-career op-ed writings.

        • Paul Gronke says:

          Are you accusing me of being old? :-)

          I am old! I remember Broder as a thoughtful journalist covering politics in the 1970s. His book, The Party’s Over, was on reading lists when I was an undergrad. When I became a political scientist in the 1980s, Broder was the only journalist who attended our conventions and wrote about political science.

          That’s the Broder I was referring to, and this is what I meant when I compared Ezra Klein. Ezra Klein writes thoughtfully about academic work in a time when scholars are under attack on many fronts. There are good reasons to criticize academics–we can be narrow, self-interested, insular, and many spend too many hours in the lab and not enough in the classroom. But most academics I meet don’t fit that mold. They care about scholarship, they care about their teaching, and they want the public to understand what they do. Klein helps to translate this work, as Broder did, and as I hope more journalists will.

  2. Marty Smith says:

    I’ll just dogpile on here and say that for me, and I suspect a lot of the Gen-X-to-Millennial left, David Broder is a dirty word. He’s synonymous in my mind with a maddening tendency among certain establishment voices (paging Thomas Friedman) to split every difference in the name of even-handedness. If Broder had been around in the 1860s, he would have said that the reasonable-and-fair thing to do would be to free 50% of the slaves.

  3. Doug says:

    Correction–The article about Michael Woodford was written by Dylan Matthews, *not* Ezra. So was the post about election forecasting.

  4. Pacman. Yes, my name is Pacman. says:

    Yay Doug. Ezra Klein is exaggerated many times and often given credit for work accomplished by his colleagues, such as, Sarah Kliff, Suzie Khimm, Brad Plumer, and new pundit Dylan Matthews. Although, Klein has some very interesting articles that are well written, but in reality, it’s a team effort.

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