RICHARD COHEN RETIREMENT WATCH…. I’ll confess that I tend to skip past most of Richard Cohen’s Washington Post columns. But Adam Serwer today described Cohen as “the worst columnist in America” — a bold claim with Krauthammer, Goldberg, and Barnes still publishing regularly — so I thought I should check out what drove Adam to his assessment.
It turns out, Cohen is apparently bored.
When the Pulitzer committee called to say that I had won the prize for being the only syndicated columnist, or for that matter touch-typist, who had not had an exclusive interview with Barack Obama, I was shocked. I had to check to see if indeed I had not exclusively interviewed the president and, if I had, what he had said and, if I hadn’t — which turned out to be the case — how it had happened.
I checked my records and diaries and discovered that I had been offered many opportunities to exclusively interview the president, but only after he had been exclusively interviewed by all the other columnists and bloggers and, of course, the anchors of all the networks, including cable — basic as well as premium. A review of the record showed that the president usually said nothing or nearly so, and indeed things have gotten to the point that when I see Obama on TV, I hurry on to another channel, even one with a Maury Povich rerun. I recently came across Anderson Cooper, who was interviewing Obama in Africa or some such place, and after noticing how they were both so trim, I quickly channel-surfed my way to Animal Planet. I knew I had not missed anything important.
Cohen added that if he did sit down with President Obama for a one-on-one interview, he’d feel compelled to ask about health care reform, which would prove to be awkward, since Cohen knows “next to nothing” about the subject. The debate over the issue, he said, has produced proposals that he finds “mind-numbingly boring.”
So, let me get this straight. A Washington Post political columnist, whose work is syndicated nationwide, doesn’t really want to talk to the president, doesn’t want to see anyone else interview the president, doesn’t care about the president traveling abroad to “some such place,” and doesn’t want to learn more about the health care debate.
Obviously, what Cohen finds interesting or not is up to him. But if he’s no longer interested in politics or events of the day, perhaps he shouldn’t be a political columnist in the nation’s capital?
Adam concluded, “Maybe the Animal Planet channel has an opening, or maybe Cohen could intern for Maury. Maybe then the WaPo op-ed page could find a columnist who happens to actually be interested in writing about public affairs other than to complain about how boring they are.”