Leading reporters for Politico, often called “The Bible of the Beltway,” are heading up an effort to divide, defame, and deflect the Donald J. Trump for President campaign. That’s obvious enough from reading Politico.
But a closer look at some of those Politico staffers tells us more as to why and how. A number of Politico reporters and editors who claim to be objective are actually partisan Democrats, as voter registration files and other documentation obtained by Breitbart News show. Breaking this veneer of objectivity could be a problem for a struggling news organization like Politico, which is going through a transition this year as several of its most senior officials are leaving the company after years of service.
Big-name, respected journalists like Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei are gearing up to leave the once-great political media juggernaut, and these revelations represent insight into how Politico has gone from arguably one of the biggest names in political news to just another mainstream media outlet driving a progressive narrative.
Politico, in its heyday, was viewed by Republicans and Democrats alike as a place where they would battle over the day’s news and compete on an even playing field. Founded in January 2007, Politico took off like a rocket ship as several senior journalists from across a variety of mainstream media outlets joined the burgeoning outlet in the early days of then-candidate Barack Obama’s rise to power, fashioning content with an intense interest in inside-the-beltway politics, including sports-like recaps of the battles of the day on Capitol Hill.
As Americans have grown tired of politics-as-usual — evidenced by the rise of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump — so too has the decline of beltway media into cheap political hackery been evident on politics’ main stage. Politico, based on this report and several other recent moves, has seemingly taken a calculated turn in the direction of liberalism—away from the in-depth reporting that characterized its quick rise as a dominant force in the media with influence the likes of the New York Times or the Washington Post.
But now, as even the Times and Post struggle with billionaire ownership by Mexican Carlos Slim and Silicon Valley’s Jeff Bezos respectively, Politico seems to have slipped as well — from beltway paragon to scrubby click-baiter. Part of this shift is driven by Trump himself, whose love-hate relationship with the media has resulted in his team un-credentialing various mainstream media outlets, including Politico and the Washington Post, from his events.
The shift away from supposedly “objective” media outlets towards openly partisan networks with decided points of view, has happened quickly over the past few years with the rise of the Internet. In contrast to Politico, and its predecessors the New York Times and Washington Post, many new prominent outlets — including the Huffington Post and Breitbart News — encourage transparent expression of journalists’ beliefs on political matters.
However, refusal to acknowledge a political bias doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Politico is a case in point.
Alex Isenstadt, one of Politico’s most vicious hit piece writers, is a registered Democrat in Washington, D.C. His official voter registration, obtained by Breitbart News, shows that Isenstadt—who lives in Northeast Washington, D.C.—is registered as a member of the Democratic Party on May 23, 2011. Isenstadt’s polling place is the Lutheran Church of the Reformation at 212 East Capitol Street in Northeast D.C., in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol. While the document also shows Isenstadt’s personal residential address, in the interest of privacy, Breitbart News is not publishing that information.
Moreover, Isenstadt is hardly the only key editorial staffer at Politico who is or was a registered Democrat—or has some other deep personal ties to the Democratic Party. Isenstadt’s Democratic Party registration is active, while some others’ are technically no longer active, but nonetheless offer a window into the thinking of the mainstream media organization that presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump calls a “total rag.” Isenstadt has not responded to a request for comment from Breitbart News on his active Democratic Party voter registration.
A quick glance at Isenstadt’s recent articles shows that he is decidedly opposed to the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump:
“Furious GOP donors stew over Trump,” reads one recent headline.
“Trump’s relationship with RNC sours,” reads another, which he co-authored with two other Politico scribes.
“Pro-Cruz Super PAC is still going,” reads a third, implying that Trump could somehow have the nomination taken from him in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention in July.
That is, however, a virtual impossibility, as several conservatives and party officials have already laid out. Despite the fact that it’s basically impossible to take the nomination away from Trump, Isenstadt spent an hour with podcast host Ben Domenech of The Federalist blog pushing the theory and saying, “This is something people have been talking about over the past few months.”
Isenstadt, one of the few Politico employees not to respond to an inquiry from Breitbart News about his active membership in the Democratic Party as shown by his voter registration form, has a long history of pushing liberalism and fighting against conservatism on behalf of the Democratic Party. In fact, back at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, Isenstadt advocated for stem cell research and also criticized the media for focusing on religion in politics—something he ascribed to George W. Bush’s defeat of John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.
In 2007 he defended then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton—who would go on to lose to Barack Obama in the primaries, become his Secretary of State for four years, and now is the 2016 presumptive Democratic presidential nominee—over criticism for her vote in favor of the war in Iraq. And throughout his post-college career, Isenstadt has continued a decidedly liberal bent. One can read his Twitter page and see that it’s obvious what his goal is: He’s aiming to create divides inside the Republican Party deeper than the ones that already exist, and to drive Republicans away from Trump.
While Isenstadt is probably the most brazen on board Team Politico in terms of his support for the Democratic Party—again, he is an active member based on his D.C. voter registration—he is hardly the only one who fits that description.
Kristin Roberts, Politico’s national editor, was also a registered Democrat while living in New Jersey in the late 1990s and while living in Florida in the early 2000s. The registration information obtained by Breitbart News from both states shows that while living in Hudson County, New Jersey, Roberts registered as a Democrat on Feb. 25, 1999. Roberts registered again as a Democrat while in Miami-Dade County a few years later; her last vote date there was Nov. 5, 2002. Roberts has not responded to a Breitbart News request for comment.
“Kristin Roberts is national editor of Politico,” her bio on the website reads. “She directs coverage of the 2016 presidential race and helps guide Politico’s approach to the biggest stories.”
Eli Stokols, a national politics reporter for Politico, was registered as a Democrat when he lived in Colorado. His voter registration form from when he lived in Denver, Colorado, obtained by Breitbart News, shows he was registered as a Democrat for at least approximately three years—from his registration on Dec. 5, 2005, until his last recorded vote on Nov. 4, 2008, when President Barack Obama was elected. Stokols has not responded to a request for comment from Breitbart News on the matter.
Stokols has been involved in pushing several anti-Trump stories. He helped Isenstadt with the one claiming, again inaccurately, that Trump’s relationship with the RNC has soured. “Trump’s politics of fear,” reads another recent Stokols headline. “2016 Nerdcast: Did Trump Blow It On Orlando?” reads another. Yet one more: “Trump’s performance raises hard question: Who’d want to be his VP?”
Kyle Cheney, another reporter for Politico according to the organization’s website, was registered as a Democrat when he lived in New York State. He registered in Suffolk County, New York as a Democrat on Aug. 19, 2003. Cheney claims he is now a registered independent, and says he did not live in New York after he became an adult. He did not, however, deny having registered as a Democrat to vote at that address. “I’m a registered independent. I haven’t lived in New York since I was 17,” Cheney told Breitbart News when presented with the voter registration information showing he was a registered Democrat. One might note that voter registration is not available to 17-year-olds, and, in fact, as Breitbart can document, he did register, as a Democrat, in New York.
According to his Politico bio, Cheney joined Politico in June 2012, after five years as a reporter for local media in Massachusetts. Also according to his bio, Cheney attended Boston University, graduating in 2007, so the timeline of him being registered in August 2003 makes sense—although again, he registered in New York State, as a Democrat. When given the details from the voter registration form, including the address listed — which again Breitbart News will not publish in the interest of privacy — Cheney refused over the course of several days to confirm whether he lived there at that address and whether that was, in fact, his voter registration form from when he was in college.
Like his colleague Isenstadt, Cheney has been pushing the dubious notion that Trump may not end up becoming the GOP presidential nominee at the convention.
“Anti-Trump GOP delegates start organizing,” reads one of his latest headlines.
“Trump’s terror response has Republicans fretting anew,” reads another recent one.
There are plenty more like that, where Cheney—in Politico’s style—has decidedly driven an anti-conservative, pro-establishment narrative regardless of the facts.
Jake Sherman, Politico’s senior writer, who according to the outlet’s website, “covers the House Republican majority,” is married to a staffer for a former Democratic member of Congress, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA).
Sherman’s wife, Irene, for almost two years “served as a scheduler and the executive assistant in Washington for Jane Harman, a former Democratic congresswoman from California,” according to their wedding announcement in the New York Times.
When asked how he can fairly cover Republicans when married to a Democrat, Sherman told Breitbart News: “My wife is a strong, intelligent woman who is free to have her own political opinions.”
Ken Vogel, another Politico reporter, was once a registered Democrat in Washington, D.C. in the late 1990s. Vogel at one time also worked for the Democratic staff of the House Oversight Committee as part of a fellowship for journalists through the American Political Science Association (AAPS). That fellowship had him spend a year on Capitol Hill working for two different congressional committees, one of which, according to a source familiar with Vogel’s time on the Hill, was for the Democratic side of the Oversight Committee and the other for the Republican side of the House Homeland Security Committee. It was while working for the GOP side of the Homeland Security Committee that Vogel met his wife, according to their wedding announcement. His wife was working as a legal intern for the Republicans on that committee. Vogel’s wife previously worked for the office of former GOP Rep. Chris Shays from Connecticut, and for ex-Sen. Joe Lieberman—a former Democrat turned Independent, also from Connecticut. During Vogel’s wife’s time with Lieberman, he was already an independent having left the Democratic Party. In between her employment with the Homeland Security committee and the Democratic Party, legal filings show, Vogel’s wife worked for the George W. Bush administration’s Department of Justice. Vogel hasn’t always been a Democrat, however. Voting files from Virginia show that in 2008 he voted in the GOP presidential primary and in 2009 he voted in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
When asked about how he can remain objective, Vogel joked in response.
“I didn’t have a problem remaining objective back when my wife worked for Republican and independent members of Congress and for the Bush Justice Department,” Vogel told Breitbart News. “But ever since she opened Glen’s Garden Market – a grocery, café and bar that sources almost exclusively from the states of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed – I’ve become a total shill for Big Kale.”
Politico’s Vice President of Communications Brad Dayspring—a failed establishment Republican operative whose bosses, including former Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, over the years have lost election after election before he eventually joined the Politico team—defended the organization by engaging in an ad hominem attack on this reporter.
“Over the years Politico has hired employees from all kinds of backgrounds,” Dayspring said in an email. “Just as you voted for Barack Obama and now cover politics for Breitbart, Politico has reporters who’ve come from conservative outlets and liberal outlets, employees with spouses who work in Republican politics as well as Democratic politics. The drive of our reporters and the non-partisan journalism that they produce for Politico speaks for itself.”
Dayspring is correct on one account: Before becoming a conservative during the Tea Party movement in 2010—and while in college—this reporter voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. That story has been well documented because of this reporter’s, and this news organization’s, belief in openness and transparency. Breitbart News as a news organization embraces its point of view, and makes no false claims to the silly mainstream media notions of “objectivity”—in large part because there is no such thing as pure objectivity. Breitbart does, however, believe in truth and quality reporting, which is why Dayspring has not responded to a series of follow-up questions on whether or not his comparison of Politico to Breitbart News means the organization has changed its editorial policies and now believes in openness and transparency among its reporters and editors, just like Breitbart News. Over the past several months, many Politico reporters, in conversations with Breitbart News, have not answered whom they plan to vote for or why—or what their personal beliefs are, even though they clearly have various viewpoints. Dayspring has also not answered when asked to explain how what Politico does is “journalism,” and how it is, in fact, “non-partisan.”