In journalistic parlance, a “beat sweetener” is a story that lavishes praise on a powerful figure the reporter is assigned to cover on a regular basis–a great way for that reporter to get in good with an important source. That may have been what was happening with Lori Montgomery‘s February 26 Washington Post piece touting the deficit-busting greatness of White House budget director Jacob Lew. Under the headline “Jacob Lew Returns to Work on Fixing Nation’s Finances, Again,” she begins:
At 27, Jacob J. Lew helped save Social Security. At 41, he helped cut a deal to balance the federal budget. During the Clinton administration, he became the only White House budget director in a generation to banish deficit spending.
In a city suddenly crawling with would-be deficit-busters, even some Republicans recognize Lew as the real deal.
About the only real criticism is reserved for Barack Obama, whosebudget is called “deficit-ridden.” Lew leads a team that is apparently universally loved:
As a group, they are viewed by people in both parties as pragmatists with a track record of inspiring trust on both sides of the aisle. Lew, in particular, seems to have few enemies, not much ego and a reputation for focusing on the demands of the deal.
Readers also learn that Lew is”tall and dark” and “exudes a calm geniality.” As Dean Bakertitled his post at his Beat the Press blog, “Doesn’t Anyone Have Anything Bad to Say About Jacob Lew?” Apparently not.