Politico’s top editor, Matt Kaminski, released a statement Thursday defending the outlet’s decision to publish an op-ed by Daily Wire editor emeritus Ben Shapiro, even as leftists, including reportedly some of Politico’s own staffers, decried the publication for daring to publish “an oft-incendiary right-wing commentator,” as the oft-incendiary left-wing Daily Beast puts it.
Nearly as soon as Politico’s morning email, Playbook, hit inboxes, leftists took to Twitter to decry the newsmagazine’s decision to allow Shapiro access to its “signature news product,” melting down over the mere thought of Shapiro gaining access to the outlet’s email audience.
Among the more notable complaints came from The Week’s Ryan Cooper, who accuses Shapiro not just of having a differing opinion but of supposedly “bribing” Politico — and of killing the environment while doing it.
“Ben Shapiro is a racist liar, but he also arranged for an oil company to give Politico a massive bribe, so, it’s impossible to say if hes bad or not,” Cooper wrote in a much-maligned tweet.
Ben Shapiro is a racist liar, but he also arranged for an oil company to give Politico a massive bribe, so, it;s impossible to say if hes bad or not, pic.twitter.com/cwSgHG0HBy
— ryan cooper (@ryanlcooper) January 14, 2021
One Yahoo News journalist was also quite angry that Ben made a joke on Twitter Wednesday at the expense of a New York Times reporter.
“The fact Politico gave prime real estate to Ben Shapiro the day after he claimed *everyone* has zip tie restraints at home in an attempt to minimize the Capitol riots and it all being sponsored by the oil and gas lobby tells you more about DC than any newsletter scoop could,” he claimed.
The fact Politico gave prime real estate to Ben Shapiro the day after he claimed *everyone* has zip tie restraints at home in an attempt to minimize the Capitol riots and it all being sponsored by the oil and gas lobby tells you more about DC than any newsletter scoop could.
— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) January 14, 2021
The Washington Post’s media critic even advocated for walling off Shapiro from cross-publishing. “You know, if you want to hear Shapiro’s opinions, there’s a place to go for that,” he said.
Ironically, Shapiro’s column directly addressed the difficulty leftists will face by lumping in traditional conservatives — including President Donald Trump’s critics and detractors — with the violent mob that stormed the United States Capitol last week, resulting in the death of five people and injuring dozens of Capitol Police officers, particularly with regard to opposing a second Trump impeachment.
“If you supported Trump in any way, you were at least partially culpable, the argument goes. It’s not just Trump who deserves vitriol — it’s all 74 million people who voted for him,” Shapiro wrote. “Opposition to impeachment comes from a deep and abiding conservative belief that members of the opposing political tribe want their destruction, not simply to punish Trump for his behavior.”
Thursday afternoon, reports began to surface that all was not well within Politico and that staffers on the outlet’s internal messaging service, Slack, were in revolt.
“[Publishing Shapiro’s column] has clearly generated a wave of negative attention, and I fear it’s already overshadowing a lot of great work being done by journalists across this newsroom,” one staffer lamented.
Another implied the decision undermined racial equality.
“This is especially confusing given the newsroom’s welcome efforts over the last year to cover issues related to race in a more intentional, elevated, thoughtful way,” the person said.
According to CNN’s Brian Stetler, Politico hastily convened a newsroom conference call, apparently to discuss the matter. Other reports indicated that Politico turned over a previously scheduled “diversity and inclusion” meeting to handling the twin issues of diversity and the inclusion of the conservative writer in Politico’s Playbook email.
Kaminski defended his decision at the meeting and in a statement released Thursday afternoon.
“We published a piece by a very prominent writer, provocateur, and podcaster. We stand by every word in there, it was very closely edited,” he said. “Mischief making has always been a part of Politico’s secret sauce. We were an upstart. Some of that sensibility is always going to be a part of this publication.”
The later statement read: “We have taken great care to assemble a roster of guest authors who are prominent thinkers and writers and represented a range of perspectives. 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 is a part of our mission.”
Shapiro’s column remains up at Politico but is not accessible from the site’s front page.
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