Robert Costa's Moment

Robert Costa, a reporter for the the conservative National Review, has emerged as the go-to reporter of the government shutdown.
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National Review's Robert Costa has emerged during the government shutdown and looming debt ceiling crisis as one of the most essential reporters in Washington, with deep sources inside the Republican Party.

Costa was one of five conservative journalists who met privately with President Obama on Tuesday and has received lots of praise and attention for his coverage from competitors.

Here's what three political journalists -- with National Journal, BuzzFeed and NPR, respectively -- had to say in just over a half-hour period on Thursday morning:

Know what would take @robertcostaNRO's brand to the next level? A proprietary statistical model that predicts what day the shutdown will end

— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) October 10, 2013

The flurry of tweets came as Costa posted new information from GOP sources, along with a tweet about tea party members that drew scrutiny from Mark Levin, one of the country's top conservative talk radio hosts.

Costa shot back:

What's earned Costa such respect from political journalists in Washington is his focus on reporting inside the Republican Party and conservative movement -- something he's stressed there could be more of on the right. At CPAC, he's told young conservatives that the best journalism advice he received was to "go to Capitol Hill, put your microphone in a Congressman's face and try to get some stories."

Costa elaborated on the need for more reporting within conservative media and own career trajectory in a HuffPost interview last March:

Costa interned in conservative media (The Wall Street Journal editorial page) and establishment media outlets (PBS's "Charlie Rose" show and ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanopoulos"). He joined The National Review straight after finishing graduate school at the University of Cambridge, and worked as a magazine fellow, Capitol Hill correspondent and presidential campaign reporter.

During last year's CPAC gathering, Costa offered a college-aged audience a piece of advice he had received about the need to learn the basics of reporting, rather than trying to become the next George Will or Charles Krauthammer overnight.

"You can't just stay in the conservative bubble," Costa said. "If you want to compete with all kind of journalists -- especially the liberal journalists -- you've got to be able to play their game and do things how they do it."

Costa certainly gets outside the conservative bubble. His party Thursday was attended not only by right-of-center scribes, but reporters from The New York Times, Politico, ABC News and USA Today. Costa has made hundreds of appearances on CNBC, for which he is an analyst, and MSNBC, where he regularly appears on "Morning Joe," "The Daily Rundown" and "Hardball." Since signing with CNBC in 2011, Costa hasn't appeared on Fox News. He did, however, stop by NPR's "On Point" the morning after the National Review party.

Held up as an example of the conservative reporter with mainstream cred, Costa argues that it's a matter of time and experience before others break through. The 2012 election was "baptism through fire" for the conservative media, he said, especially since some outlets didn't even exist the first time Obama ran.

"What I took away was, the 2012 campaign was a great learning experience for many conservative media reporters, across the spectrum on the right," Costa said. "I think the news judgment in many organizations -- a lot of stories that were floated or thought were hot never really stuck. It wasn't just because of bias on the left or bias in the media."

"Conservative journalists are recognizing that they have to offer more to readers beyond talking points and columns," Costa added. "I think that's the evolution right now -- moving toward narrative journalism, investigative journalism. It's a growing process. There will be some growing pains."

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