Politico's Joe Williams Blames Suspension on 'Radical Conservatives'

Joe Williams, Politico's White House correspondent that was suspended after stating Mitt Romney was most comfortable around “white folks,” said on a Wednesday radio show that he was a victim of conservative websites that seized upon those words to make a point about the media.

While a guest on “The Bill Press Show,” Williams was asked by the liberal host, “Do you believe those words were seized upon, taken out of context, blown up by people with their own political agenda?”

“What happened in my instance,” the reporter replied to the softball question, “was that those two words,” spoken while a guest on MSNBC's “Martin Bashir Live,” were “the ones that set people off.”

“You know, ‘white folks,’ ‘Mitt Romney,’ it was a match to a tinder keg among certain segments of people who decided that they wanted to push back on what they believe is the liberal media,” Williams continued.

Press then asked the reporter: “Who are these people that are coming after you?”

Williams presented himself as a victim of what he called “radical conservatives” and named two organizations.

“Clearly in my case,” he stated, “it has been two sources that have been the primary ones—The Daily Caller and Big Media [actually called Big Journalism], Breitbart’s organization—the late Andrew Breitbart’s organization.”

Their efforts, he said, gained momentum and forced Politico Editor John Harris to act.

“Deliberately targeting you?” Press asked.

“I would say yeah,” Williams replied. “In all the things that I’ve seen and what Politico was reacting to, stories that Big Media [sic] had put out, one story specifically that Big Media [sic] had put out about me making this remark, they looked at my Twitter feed.”

They saw things on the Twitter feed that they thought justified bias, threw it together in a package, put a healthy dose of cynicism on top of it, and put it out and got retweet after retweet after retweet.


However, the host asked Williams if he had been in similar circumstances before, and the reporter admitted that he had been warned about watching what he said in the past by Politico and was “toning it down.”

Soon after he was suspended by Politico, Williams posted an email apology, which reads in part:

I regret that this incident happened. I understand and respect John Harris’ point of view—that I’ve compromised Politico’s objectivity, and my own. At this point, my suspension without pay is still indefinite, and I don’t know what management has in mind as an appropriate sanction.

I’m not surprised a small group with Internet access and an ambitious agenda can undermine reporting, influence organizations and distort legitimate analysis of political news. It’s quite unfortunate that I landed in the crosshairs this time, calling Politico’s integrity into question and jeopardizing a job and a career that I love. It’s incredibly frustrating that I won’t be the final target.

I'd have more sympathy for Williams if he, as a journalist, would get his facts straight.

If two organizations were attacking me and threatening my livelihood, I'd definitely remember their names. “Big Media” is a blog, and the Breitbart site he's referring to is actually called “Big Journalism.”

Also, Williams says his problem is caused by his use of two words: “while folks.” Then he adds “Mitt Romney” to the mix. So is his problem actually caused by his use of two words or four?

If Williams can't even keep this important information accurate, how can anyone watching a report from him believe he really knows what he's talking about?

Randy Hall
Randy Hall