It was just two weeks ago that Politico chief political correspondent Tim Alberta berated conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt for calling out the magazine’s signing of far-left reporter Sam Stein. “P.S. from editorial brass to web producers, [Politico]'s staff is the most compulsively fair-minded I've been around,” he shrieked as he cut ties with Hewitt.
I guess you won't be needing my weekly appearance, then! Consider this my sign-off after 4 years of doing your show.— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) December 30, 2020
P.S. from editorial brass to web producers, @politico's staff is the most compulsively fair-minded I've been around.
Well, it appeared as though Alberta was blowing a lot of smoke. Because after the magazine’s editors signed Daily Wire founder and conservative leader Ben Shapiro to guest-write for Politico’s Playbook on Thursday, a large portion of the staff revolted.
“There are now upwards of 225 people on the [Politico] Zoom call convened to hash out the decision to invite [Ben Shapiro] to guest-write an edition of Playbook. People are very mad, I am hearing,” tweeted Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple.
Politico released a statement on the meltdown. “We have taken great care to assemble a roster of guest authors who are prominent thinkers and writers and represent a range of perspectives,” they said.
Adding: “What sets Politico apart in this intense political and media moment is that we rise above partisanship and ideological warfare – even as many seek to drag us into it. It’s a core value of the publication that is unchangeable, and that above all protects our ability to do independent journalism. It’s a part of our mission.”
But neither many of Politico’s own staffers nor Wemple appeared to agree with allowing readers to be exposed to that wide range of perspectives. Or even a wide range of conservative perspectives outside the staunch Never Trumpers and media heralded types like Max Boot or Charlie Sykes.
Wemple sided with the intolerant masses at the Politico and the left-wing media sphere by sharing a response from the radical Daily Beast and declaring: “You know, if you want to hear Shapiro's opinions, there's a place to go for that.”
What a ridiculous position to take.
Let’s apply Wemple’s logic. Last month, Politico boasted about signing CNN Tonight host Don Lemon, NBC political director Chuck Todd, and PBS White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor to guest-write for the same feature as Shapiro. All of whom have their own platforms if readers wanted to seek out their opinions. And just the day before, the guest writer was far-left MSNBC host Chris Hayes.
Wemple did speak with two people who didn’t agree with the thought police. “Just chatted with a pair of [Politico] staffers who dissent from the prevailing outrage over the [Ben Shapiro] guest-hosting gig. They say they didn't speak up on the call because the sentiment is so heated and one-sided,” he tweeted.
It’s well into the night, and as of the writing of this piece, the fire at Politico was still raging. Of course, Wemple promoted one unnamed staffer who complained that they couldn’t “get back on my soapbox” and demand people not listen to Shapiro. The staffer seemed to be having a mental breakdown as they compared Shapiro to crazed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
One staffer in today's meeting @politico over the @benshapiro guest-written Playbook argued that the decision to publish his thoughts complicates frequent conversations with Republicans and conservatives: pic.twitter.com/0nLcNANp9R— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) January 15, 2021
That comparison to Alex Jones alone should have told Wemple just how ridiculous and unserious his source was. Though it seems like Wemple agreed.