My new column at CJR reviews coverage of John Boehner's re-election as Speaker of the House. Like much recent coverage of his leadership, these articles often provided little explanatory context for why he has struggled to exercise control over his caucus. Here's how it begins:
On Thursday, John Boehner survived some conservative defections to narrowly win re-election as Speaker of the House, prompting a predictable display of emotion from the notoriously weepy speaker.
With the vote taking place just days after Boehner allowed the House to pass a bill addressing the so-called “fiscal cliff” that was opposed by a majority of Republicans, numerous news reports on the vote for speaker noted the difficulty he has faced in exercising leadership over his caucus during the last two years.
Unfortunately, most of these articles fell into an awkward middle ground that frequently plagues political coverage in Washington. The best reporting and analysis either provides rich new details on what is happening on Capitol Hill or puts events there into a broader political or policy context. However, too many articles make no contributions in either area, instead providing brief, episodic coverage that contains few specifics and little explanatory depth.
In this case, coverage of Boehner often consisted of unsubstantiated assertions that his demeanor and leadership approach have reduced his ability to exercise control over the House.
Read the whole thing for more.