Welcome to the “beat sweetener.”
In the early days of any administration, reporters reach out to the men and women who might become their sources over the next four years — then slather them with glowing profiles suitable for framing in their mothers’ bedrooms.
Even garden-variety government officials become political superheroes, each one harder-working and more down-to-earth than the last — and all of them enjoying the ear of the president…
Coinage aside, the beat sweetener probably has existed as long as reporters have relied on official sources for background information. It’s also a phenomenon that occurs regardless of which party is in power. In December 2000, Slate editor-at-large Jack Shafer noted the flood of positive profiles for Bush administration officials — enough to hold a contest for readers to create their own beat sweetener.