Before you rush to the comment thread to ask me why I’m “taking seriously” anything written by Ron Fournier, let me hasten to say I’m citing his latest column as highly symptomatic of insider journalism generally. Here’s the nut graph:

In the 18 months since I began writing columns focused on the presidency, virtually every post critical of Obama has originated from conversations with Democrats. Members of Congress, consultants, pollsters, lobbyists, and executives at think tanks, these Democrats are my Obama-whispers. They respect and admire Obama but believe that his presidency has been damaged by his shortcomings as a leader; his inattention to details of governing; his disengagement from the political process and from the public; his unwillingness to learn on the job; and his failure to surround himself with top-shelf advisers who are willing to challenge their boss as well as their own preconceived notions.

This last “whisper” is, of course, very funny, since the unstated word after “top-shelf advisers” is “like me.” Fournier is clearly talking to people who aren’t running the country, and think they should be. But hey, he senses there might be a bit of a credibility problem associated with building a case that the whole Democratic Party has “quit” on Obama based on 100% anonymous sources:

Few frustrated Democrats are willing to complain openly. I grant them anonymity, which creates a problem: Readers, for good reason, don’t trust anonymous quotes. One way to avoid deluging readers with unnamed Democrats is for me to digest their complaints along with other reporting to shape my columns and tweets.

In other words, Fournier is saying there are more anonymous sources he could cite, but instead just paraphrases. Clearly, many Democrats in Fournier’s circle thinks Obama is a spent force, a political non-entity, a lame duck, Bush-circa-2008 all over again. That’s undoubtedly why not one of them will go on the record. After all, that nearly-invisible, impotent POTUS might smite them.

It’s interesting that Fournier’s Democratic sources don’t seem to be populated among the 80% of self-identified Democrats in the whole country who (according to the last Gallup) give him a positive job approval rating. Guess they are too ignorant to have an opinion.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.