Puck Journalist Is Bad Writer, Critics Claim

Media elites seize on Dylan Byers's disparaging remarks about Washington, D.C.

September 23, 2022

Puck journalist Dylan Byers is a "hacky" and "lazy" writer whose "terrible" and "navel-gazing" prose resembles that of a "West Wing-addicted nerd" "trying to write like Tom Wolfe." So say his critics, who blasted the bearded journo for his unflattering description of our nation's capital.

Byers, who currently resides in Gavin Newsom's California and writes a media gossip newsletter, wrote:

One of the enduring charms of Washington D.C., where I lived from 2011 to 2014, and where I found myself this week, is the way its drab streets, dimly-lit bars and earnest Brooks Brothers-attired political-media class immediately envelop you in their cozy myopia. Here, in the shadow of monuments appealing to a broader view of history and the world, is a town where insularity and incrementalism reign …

The assessment was accurate enough to aggrieve members of the political-media class. Many were compelled to publicly denounce Byers for daring to disparage a city that leads the world in lawyers per capita and serves "Moscow Muellers" at watch parties for congressional hearings that start at 8:30 a.m. Current and former residents of Washington, D.C.—mostly white journalists—were particularly eager to announce themselves as seasoned purveyors of real D.C. culture.

"Can we not with the hacky AF descriptions of DC?" wrote Jordan Weissmann, writer and editor at Slate. "I bought my blazer at Suit Supply, like every other thirtysomething asshole in this city, thank you very much."

"Also, it is terrible writing," observed New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie, to which the Intercept's D.C. bureau chief, Ryan Grim, added: "It is enveloped in terribleness." Former BuzzFeed editor John Stanton quipped: "Oh weird Dylan Byers goes to Chocolate City and can only see the boring white transplants like him. I guess all that navel gazing in California didn't make him a better writer."

CNN political analyst Jackie Kucinich, daughter of former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio), snarked that she will "never tire of guys trying to write like Tom Wolfe, though. Truly a unique thing that never, ever happens." Bloomberg editor Andrew Small remarked that Byers's description of D.C. "reads like an intern visited the Lincoln Memorial at night for the first time." New Republic editor Patrick Caldwell suggested it was "like going to Times Square and saying that it's the same as the rest of NYC."

By far the most accurate assessment of the intra-media fracas came courtesy of Jim Hanson, a former Green Beret, who explained that journalists are a bunch of smug dorks. "Too many journos think they should be writing features for Vanity Fair in the '80s," he wrote. "Except they suck."

Indeed. There are no winners here. Professional journalists love D.C. because it is teeming with other smug dorks, but hate it when other people point that out. Especially when those other people are aspiring Vanity Fair feature writers from Hunter Biden's Los Angeles who are just as smug about not living in D.C. with the other journalists and overpaid consultants.

Before provoking the D.C. political-media class to publicly attack him, Byers was best known for stealing scoops from the Washington Free Beacon because Democratic operatives considered him a reliable stenographer. Furthermore, his groundbreaking investigative reporting on the media industry resulted in the firing of at least one Free Beacon journalist, as detailed in The Diddle Report. Byers was named a Free Beacon Man of the Year in 2015.