Politico’s two-month battle to dismiss, mock, downplay, and ridicule a meticulously researched Washington Post report alleging that Politico’s Mike Allen gives favorable coverage to his Playbook advertisers, just ramped up a notch with Allen himself finally commenting. As has been the case since day one, though, Allen stuck to the, uhm, playbook, which is to avoid specific allegations and hurl vitriol at Erik Wemple, the Post reporter who dropped the bombshell:
“Erik’s posts about Playbook are false and insulting,” Allen wrote. “I haven’t responded because his obsessive, anti-Playbook agenda has been obvious for some time.
“I have based my career on honesty and trust,” Allen continued. “Over the past seven years, there have been more than 8 million words of Playbooks, including hundreds of announcements from every group under the sun. You could cherry-pick items to make any case you wanted: that I’m a conservative hack, or a liberal tool, or a bad writer or a good guy. I write Playbook 365 days a year because I enjoy it, and greatly respect the readership it has attracted. I make my decisions based on a single consideration: whether the item would serve the audience.”
Forget the irony of a reporter who publishes a newsletter 365 days a week — including Christmas Day — describing another as “obsessive,” what Allen is obviously hoping is that he can Big Shot Wemple with name-calling and umbrage and that this will distract from a serious piece of reporting.
Politico editor-in-chief John Harris is scheduled to meet today with Wemple and Post editor Fred Hiatt. Judging from an email Harris released today (apparently to his own media reporter, Dylan Byers) that meeting will not go well or begin to answer serious questions raised by Wemple’s reporting:
Harris said he was “pissed” that the Post “would allow a columnist to use innuendo, and selective thumb-on-the-scale reporting, to wage an ongoing campaign-like attack on a journalist whose integrity and professionalism I have witnessed at close range for nearly 25 years.”
“I believe the Post is allowing its justly respected platform to be used to advance a personal or competitive agenda, rather than a fair or responsible journalistic one,” Harris wrote.
Heaven knows Breitbart News has had its disagreements with Wemple. But I don’t know anyone here who would describe him as “obsessive” or as someone “waging a campaign-like attack” due to a “personal or competitive agenda.” That dog just isn’t going to hunt with anyone who follows Wemple’s work.
It is fascinating to watch Politico behave so badly over a single report. The arrogance is obvious, especially from a left-wing outlet that regularly “wages campaign-like attacks” to destroy conservatives and further their own “personal” and “competitive agenda” to empower the federal government and protect the status quo.
My guess is that Politico sees itself as “too big to be scrutinized,” and in the end it might turn out that they are right about that. Thus far, despite Wemple’s reporting and Politico’s appalling reaction to it, this is nowhere near the media scandal it deserves to be. But when you are as big and powerful as Politico, and a zealous left-wing defender of all things left-wing, you enjoy a protected status those who don’t toe the line never will.
Regardless of how it turns out, unless Politico drops the temper tantrums and addresses the actual reporting, everyone will see Politico, Allen, and Playbook as tarnished by a scandal Politico was able to Big Shot under the rug but not refute.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC