The Note: The Fournier Way

WASHINGTON, May 31

There are six jobs in American political journalism that are significantly more influential than all of the others.

Of those six, two are particularly influential, and the occupant of one of those is about to move on.

The Associated Press's chief political writer, Ron Fournier, told 2/3 of the Gang of 500 in a mass e-mail yesterday that he is moving on to a yet-to-be-revealed new position having something to do with that World Wide Web thing the kids are so juiced up about these days.

The departure of Fournier -- father, husband, Michigander-by-way-of-Arkansas, FOB, FOH, FOG, author, Applebee's expert, Rush Limbaugh punching bag, and a writer as brilliant as he is fair and fast -- will change the contours of the 2006 and 2008 American elections in ways that can now be only dimly understood, even by the Board of Directors of the Gang.

There's a reason that the two cutest Googling monkeys are named "Ron" and "Fournier."

There's a reason that many Note readers don't even know that John King was once a wire guy.

There's a reason that both of the last two presidents (of both the United States and of the Associated Press) like and respect Fournier.

The man has done an impossible job impossibly well.

Those who think the Old Media can't be unbiased have not closely read Fournier's work. Those who think the Bush White House can crush the spirit of any journalist have not closely read Fournier's work. Those who think there is no societal benefit produced when reporters compete vigorously to see who can report a planned presidential cabinet nomination four minutes before someone else reports it have not closely read Fournier's work. (Note: we are kidding about one or two of those.)

As we salute Fournier and mourn his departure, there are some unanswered questions that the smart set is asking itself:

1. Who better understands the significance of this development for control of Congress in 2007, Senator Elizabeth Dole or Senator Charles Schumer?

2. What is Fournier's new job?

3. Which potential 2008 presidential candidates are familiar enough with the AP to have educated guesses about who might replace Fournier in this slot (and has begun sucking up to them)?

4. Which Note readers are smart enough to have pre-ordered "Applebee's America : How Successful Political, Business, and Religious Leaders Connect with the New American Community"? LINK

5. How did a guy so talented miss the Mena Airport story, the Whitewater story, and pretty much everything going on at the Rose Law Firm?

The firm's first female partner delivers an 11:00 am ET acceptance speech and kicks off her Senate reelection campaign at the New York Democratic State Convention in Buffalo, NY this morning. After hosting a breakfast, Clinton will have a video shown, have signs waved, and then she will speechify, with her family looking on. Later, she will talk to house parties around America at 7:00 pm ET after showing up at the residence of Carole and Joe Hankin in Purchase, NY at 6:30 pm ET, while Ms. Lewis says it is all about service and Ms. Solis Doyle counts the money.

Secretary of State Rice holds a press conference on Iran at 11:00 am ET. A senior State Department official previewed Secretary Rice's message by saying, "You play ball, we'll play ball." ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports that it sounds like she will open the door to some form of negotiation with Iran.

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