Julian Sanchez header image 2

photos by Lara Shipley

Return of the Georgetown Cocktail Party

October 30th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Speaking of orthodoxy, heterodoxy, and their relative rewards: I’ve had occasion to recall something Yglesias wrote about a year back, responding to one of my own posts about the popular charge that insufficiently strident conservatives must just be venal climbers hoping to curry favor with liberals:

I think this situation is rather more complicated than Julian Sanchez makes out. It’s true that on the whole career incentives point in the direction of ideological orthodoxy rather than trying to snag some slot as a token. Still, within that framework of overall orthodoxy, the incentives are still to be somewhat less orthodox and on-message than your colleagues — stand out as the “reasonable” one and get invited to do panels and stuff. But I’ve never been invited to a Georgetown cocktail party.

I don’t know, actually. I think this becomes true at a certain level, for people who are already well established as voices from one camp or another.  Insofar as George Will is already a big-name conservative, it’s interesting that he sometimes breaks ranks and so forth. But for smaller fish, your best bet of getting media exposure is to hew to a strong polar position on some issue so you can represent “the” conservative or liberal viewpoint when some reporter or broadcaster is trying to set up maximal clash in a he-said-she-said story or segment.  Folks who are trying to sell eyeballs want a fight a lot more often than they want a sort of measured “well, there are merits in both views” kind of take, unless you’re recognized as a super-expert in your field. But for that, the go-to will more often be someone without a strongly identifiable ideological valence.

Tags: Uncategorized



4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Conor Friedersdorf // Oct 30, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    This is true in my limited experience, e.g., an assistant producer at a cable news television show telling me I was pretty good on camera, my jokes went off well, but I was “maybe a little bit too… reasonable for our purposes.”

  • 2 The Morning Metropolitan « // Nov 3, 2009 at 11:10 am

    […] is every cocktail party in Georgetown a “Georgetown Cocktail Party” or do some bold names have to show […]

  • 3 stras // Nov 4, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    I think Yglesias’s point holds up pretty well for liberal/left-of-center punditry, at least, which is his main point of reference. Consider the number of high-profile American “liberal” columnists who initially supported the invasion of Iraq, versus those who opposed it from the beginning – even after it became conventional wisdom that the war was a mistake, it was considered a bit tawdry somehow to have recognized this from the start.

  • 4 K.Chen // Nov 5, 2009 at 1:54 pm


    Except when the word “market” gets involved. I have to hang out with folks to the right of me because I’m willing to occasionally trust the market. I think the left has a bit more attachment to the idea of reasonableness, but not necessarily any more attachment to the actually reasonable.