It was announced this week that Richard Wolffe, formerly Newsweek’s White House correspondent, is going to work at Public Strategies Inc. — Dan Bartlett’s consulting firm.
This is a curious development, considering that Wolffe was such a strident and unfair critic of Bush during the five years that Bartlett worked as counselor to the president. Anyone who’s seen Wolffe on his regular appearences on Countdown with Keith Olbermann can attest to that. Their on-air rapport is so cemented Mediabistro joked that Wolffe saying “Hi Keith” is “sort of political punditry’s equivalent of Hannibal Lecter’s ‘Hello Clarice . . .’”
During the Bush years, Wolffe developed something of a split personality that allowed him to have his cake as journalist and eat it too. He would spout rather transparently biased, bordering-on-vicious critiques of the Bush administration when appearing on Olbermann or elsewhere on television, then jeté back to parroting mostly benign center-left conventional wisdom whenever he appeared in print in order to maintain a certain degree of credibility. Even the Columbia Journalism Review asked at one point, “Will the Real Richard Wolffe Please Step Forward?“
I suppose Bartlett’s hiring of Wolffe could be strictly mercenary; one could certainly say Wolffe has demonstrated an ability handle the media — a pretty valuable commodity for a Washington consulting firm. Still, it does seem odd that he’s working for Dan Bartlett now.