The news outlet Politico has decided that the Republican National Committee (RNC) and its chairwoman, Rona McDaniel, are too “dishonest” and “untrustworthy” to be asked for comment on news stories, even if they are central characters in those stories.
Politico’s top political reporter Tim Alberta informed the RNC of the outlet’s new standards in an email after an RNC spokesman complained that Alberta had not reached out for comment before publishing an over 7,000-word magazine piece on the GOP’s ongoing effort to challenge Michigan’s election results, according to The Washington Post. The piece, titled “The Inside Story of Michigan’s Fake Voter Fraud Scandal,” mentioned McDaniel by name 18 times.
After Alberta’s piece was published, RNC Communications Director Michael Ahrens wrote to Alberta in an email: “Is there a lot more editorial leeway granted with magazine pieces that allows you to write at length about someone and not reach out to them at all before publishing? Haven’t run into this before with Politico, or many other mainstream outlets to be honest, but wanted to check.”
Alberta responded that he felt “no obligation” to reach out to the RNC or McDaniel for the piece or at any time in the future because they have “proven so dishonest and so untrustworthy.” Alberta’s complete message, according to emails obtained by the Post, says:
Thanks for reaching out.
To answer your question: Our editorial standards are fairly uniform across mediums/verticals. 99.9% of the time, I will request comment from a principal or organization I’m writing about. However, there are extremely rare instances when the person/entity has proven so dishonest and so untrustworthy that I feel no obligation to provide them a platform from which to deceive the public. Sadly, that is the case with Chairwoman McDaniel and her staff at the RNC.
If you’d like to pass along comment from her in response to the piece, I’d be happy to review it.
Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving,
Ahrens took Alberta’s claim about the news outlet’s editorial standards and emailed a group of Politico reporters of his “understanding” that the new standards “would now apply to your coverage, as well.” Politico Editor in Chief Matt Kaminski responded to Ahrens’ email, backing up Alberta’s claim about the outlet’s editorial standards and his view of the RNC and McDaniel as too “dishonest” to seek comment from.
Tim’s magazine story is based on deep reporting on both sides of the aisle in Michigan the past few weeks and draws on years of reporting on the GOP and of course Michigan too. His relationship with Ronna McDaniel goes back most of the past decade. Tim’s credibility on this piece and in general is beyond question.
I won’t get into our editorial processes with you or anyone else except to say that we stand by every word of the piece. Let’s also dispense with this nonsense about our “changing standards.” I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you know the answer.
If you or McDaniel wish to reply to the piece or submit an oped on this or another topic, we’d be happy to consider it.
In a follow-up statement to The Daily Wire, Politico continued to stand by Alberta’s story and his email to Ahrens. To the Post, Politico described Alberta as a “relentless journalist tirelessly in search of the facts.” Ahrens slammed Politico’s standards, telling the Post that “whether you agree with who you are covering or not, the basic standards of journalism should still apply. I have never heard of a news organization taking the position that they are ‘beyond question’ and therefore do not need to reach out to the people they cover.”
Alberta did not immediately respond to The Daily Wire’s request for comment.
Editor’s Note: This article previously stated that Politico “did not immediately respond” to a request for comment. Politico has since responded, and the article has been amended to reflect that.
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