Getting At 'The Truth'

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 17, 2007; 8:48 AM

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you an important development from the media world.

Ron Brownstein has been a fixture at the Los Angeles Times for nearly two decades, an influential political reporter and talking head who delves into policy as well as campaign strategy. And now he's jumping ship.

In a coup for David Bradley's media empire, Brownstein is signing on as political director of Atlantic Media. That means he'll be a multi-platform guy, writing a weekly column for the costly but prestigious National Journal and longer pieces for the Atlantic, while putting his imprint on the Hotline as well.

"They compete at every bandwidth and altitude," Brownstein says.

He will provide editorial guidance at all three publications and also contribute to MSNBC and XM Satellite Radio, which have strategic alliances with National Journal. The public policy journal has been ramping up by hiring such high-profile staffers as former ABC correspondent Linda Douglass.

"This is such a great year to have someone of his stature and ability join the company," says National Journal President Suzanne Clark.

It is a homecoming for Brownstein, who worked at National Journal in the 1980s, but he says it was hard to leave the Times. "The paper put enormous confidence in me and allowed me the run of the place for a long time," he says. "But this is an extraordinary opportunity to contribute to a constellation of publications . . . It has a candy shop feeling."

Brownstein was a classic beat reporter at the Times, but was somewhat constrained after his wife joined John McCain's staff and shifted to the role of op-ed columnist.

Bradley, who has been offering generous six-figure salaries to lure top stars, personally courted Brownstein. Asked if that was part of the attraction, Brownstein says: "I have not been undercompensated by the L.A. Times."

All right, now to my Monday column:

Capturing reality is harder than it seems.

As Army Gen. David Petraeus's long-awaited testimony last week failed to sway the debate over the war, partisans on both sides castigated the media for what remains a blurry picture of Iraq. Why, they ask, can't journalists cut through the fog and deliver an accurate portrait of how the unpopular conflict is going?

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