This post rattled loose an old memory from the spring of 2004 when I was just a wide eyed high school junior visiting Washington D.C. for the first time. My trip was part of a "let's tour the government!" conference designed to inspire young people to participate in democratic institutions.
One of the last events was a panel discussion at the National Press Club with some Very Serious People. I remember summoning all my awkward high school resolve to ask the panel a question. During this particular moment in history the media was struggling to understand a strange thing called an Internet. I was an active member of the Big Orange Satan and had a hunch these internets might stick around for a while. In fact, my interest in politics (and by extension this trip to D.C.) was in large part a result of my engagement online.
Who better to ask about the internet's impact on the media landscape than some of the nation's preeminent journalists?
So there I stood at the microphone with my question
A particularly combative older man on the panel shot back that the internet was a dangerous force on the political process because it allowed the rabble the same stature as Very Serious People.
"Wow," I thought at the time, "what a crotchety and out of touch person." It was only after I became more politically aware that I realized the out of touch old man ranting about the internet was David Broder. Everything made much more sense in retrospect.
A coda to that story: A few years later I was at a convention where Atrios had set up a table. I was stunned to see the man in person. So stunned I completely forgot to tell him this story. I later realized my mistake and it remains one of my biggest regrets. Asking David Broder about the internet in front of a crowd of high schoolers who probably understood the transformation underway? Not really something I regret.