|Is Trump-Whisperer Maggie Haberman Changing The New York Times?|
She’s a West Wing-beat colossus and a sui generis creature at the paper of record. “Maggie’s success is very much part of that tabloid, Twitter-fied sensibility bleeding into the Times,” says a colleague.
by Joe Pompeo
October 5, 2017 5:00 pm
With her tabloid pedigree, her Lois Lane mien, her 158,000 thousand tweets to more than 640,000 followers, and her lightning rise to front-page dominance, Haberman is a sui generis creature at the Times, even if she has formidable predecessors. Maureen Dowd was around the same age Haberman is now, 43, when she rose to fame covering the administration of George H.W. Bush in the early ‘90s. “When I was a Times White House reporter, it was very hard to get on the front page in the first year,” Dowd told me. “Maggie lives there—and in the digital ether, like that woman who loomed large in the sky in Woody Allen’s New York Stories.” Dowd, who was one of 20 colleagues, associates, and Times insiders I spoke with for this story, also said: “I tried to mentor her but quickly realized it should be the other way around.”
“The larger story,” one of Haberman’s colleagues told me, “is the increasingly tabloid-y evolution of the mainstream political press. These stories are fun to read, they’re very of-the-moment, they’re made for Twitter. So I think Maggie’s success is very much part of that tabloid, Twitter-fied sensibility bleeding into the Times, entering the Times’s metabolism.” Jim VandeHei, who helped popularize this incremental, fast-twitch style of Washington journalism as a co-founder of Politico, where VandeHei hired Haberman in 2010, said it’s “definitely new turf” for Haberman’s current employer. He cited “a level of metabolism, a level of intrigue, a level of intense focus on the players and the personal dynamics that you’re just not used to seeing in The New York Times.” Speaking of Haberman and Thrush, a fellow New York tabloid and Politico alum, who joined the Times’s Trump team at the beginning of the year, former Times executive editor Jill Abramson said, “They’ve made the Times competitive in a Politico style of reporting that everybody who plays the inside game loves. The Times would not be as competitive without them.”