My column the other day on the paucity of African American correspondents at the White House drew a sharp reaction from Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby:
"With so many other things to worry about, and with the whole world able to see that racial identity is no longer a barrier to even the most powerful position in American life, you might think the press would finally be ready to abandon its unhealthy preoccupation with the color of skin -- especially the skin within its own ranks. Alas, no . . .
"But why should it matter to anyone but a racist whether a White House reporter is black or white? Well, says Michael Fletcher, a colleague of Kurtz's, 'you would want to have black journalists there to bring a different racial sensibility.' By the same token, more evangelical journalists would presumably bring a different religious sensibility to the White House, more journalists from the Deep South would bring a different regional sensibility, and more Republican journalists would bring a different political sensibility. Do you know of any news organizations that are fretting over the 'relative paucity' of evangelicals, Southerners, or Republicans on their payrolls? Me neither . . .
"The plain if unfashionable truth is that the White House press corps, and journalism generally, don't need more black reporters. They don't need more white reporters, either. Journalism needs good reporters, and good reporting isn't a function of race."
Sorry, I'm not buying. What if there were no women in the White House press corps? Would we say, well, who cares, men can do the job? I would like to see evangelicals, military veterans and others with varying experiences included in the mix. The mention of Republicans is a red herring, because most reporters, even if they lean left on issues, don't consider themselves Democrats. And if they want to be Democrats, they can go into the administration, as Linda Douglass and Jay Carney have.