Politico's Mission Statement

Via Digby and County Fair, we get an example of Politico's "journalistic" mission:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton likes the Stones. . . . The Times, reporting on her Far East trip, passes along this gem . . . Appearing on a popular Indonesian television show, Mrs. Clinton was asked to name her favorite performing artists she said the Beatles and the Rolling Stones but politely declined to sing.

We decided to fact-check . . .

Given the rather bizarre debate between Yglesias and Ezra over Politico, this episode puts it all in perspective - Politico is basically a bad Page 6 for Beltway types - without, so far, the racist cartoons. It covers trivia and gossip - at best, a People Magazine for pols. It really does not merit a discussion of its journalistic qualities. It is not a journalistic enterprise.

Speaking for me only

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    Mike Allen (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by joanneleon on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 05:58:32 PM EST
    Enough said.

    Politico has a mission alright... (5.00 / 3) (#13)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 06:22:47 PM EST
    Here is a great article by Simon Maloy (Media Matters) from March 7, 2007: Is Politico a GOP Shill? Queerly enough it was featured at Politico.

    Long story short, Politico has it's thumbprint on every major, anti-Democratic piece of sleaze that winds its way into the MSM. Bush gave them a big tongue bath 3 weeks after they launched:

    At a Feb. 14 news conference, President Bush invited Mike Allen, The Politico's chief political writer, to explain his new outfit to "the American people."

    [Everybody who subsequently visited the site that evening would have found an article conveying a major GOP propaganda initiative]... In a Feb. 14 article, John Bresnahan, The Politico's congressional bureau chief, used the loaded phrase "slow bleed" to characterize the Democrats' strategy in dealing with the administration on Iraq.

    That same day, the Republican National Committee released a letter citing Bresnahan's article in falsely claiming that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) call the Democrats' strategy "their 'slow-bleed' plan."

    Bresnahan issued a clarification on Feb. 16 which made clear that "slow bleed" was indeed The Politico's "characterization," and that it "was not a term used by any Democrats or the anti-war groups supporting their efforts." But the damage had already been done

    Note, Politico was the first major 'news' organization to accuse Hillary of indirectly threatening Obama's life when she mentioned RFK's assassination during the primaries. That's their style.


    I remember when they got started (5.00 / 3) (#24)
    by joanneleon on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 07:14:41 PM EST
    They were started by, funded by and staffed by Republicans.  

    Here's an article by Glenn Greenwald that talks about who is behind Politico: Who funds and runs the Politico?

    Also, when they started as a new online news service, they were immediately accepted as legitimate and other media outlets began linking to them and such.  This was contrasted with progressive blogs which had been reporting on stories that the media ignored, had been coming out with new information and stories, etc. yet the media would not link to them or credit them for their stories.  It was all very strange the way they rocketed onto the scene.


    Right: Politico has been around 2 yrs, count em (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 07:53:09 PM EST
    Yes they launched January 23/07, just in time to harass the new Democratic majority in Congress. Less than a month later, Bush took some time to introduce Politico to the world at a major press conference:
    In the President's press conference Feb. 14/07, he stopped Allen, former Time magazine White House correspondent, in mid train of thought to train a spotlight on [Politico].

    THE PRESIDENT: Michael. Michael, who do you work for? (Laughter.)

    Q Mr. President, I work for Politico.com.

    THE PRESIDENT: Pardon me? Politico.com?

    Q Yes, sir. Today. (Laughter.)

    THE PRESIDENT: You want a moment to explain to the American people exactly what -- (laughter.)

    Q Mr. President, thank you for the question. (Laughter.)

    THE PRESIDENT: Quit being so evasive.

    Q You should read it.

    THE PRESIDENT: Is it good? You like it?

    Q David Gregory --

    THE PRESIDENT: David Gregory likes it. I can see the making of a testimonial. (Laughter.) Anyway, go ahead, please.

    Not surprisingly, the Web site did indeed turn the shout-out into a plug, running the video on its home page.

    They FACT-CHECKED her (5.00 / 4) (#2)
    by oldpro on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 06:00:14 PM EST
    musical tastes?!?

    Who in Hell lies about the Beatles and the Stones?

    Pathetic, Politico.

    Come on (4.75 / 4) (#7)
    by Steve M on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 06:14:07 PM EST
    No one likes the Beatles AND the Stones.  It's like liking both chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

    Even moi, the classical music snob, (none / 0) (#10)
    by oculus on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 06:20:12 PM EST
    knew these two groups are as different as night and day.

    Gotta admit, I like the Beatles and the Stones (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by byteb on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 06:27:58 PM EST
    but I also like vanilla and chocolate ice cream depending on my mood.

    However, I hate Politico


    I don't hate Politico (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 06:29:00 PM EST
    It is what it is.

    It could have been more. It is not.


    You should hate Politico... (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 06:57:25 PM EST
    Their mendacious "slow bleed" story (Feb. 14/07) had a major negative impact on John Murtha's initiative to gradually defund the Iraq War - after the 2006 midterms had given Dems a majority in the House, the Senate, state legislatures and governorships.

    Politico Ice Cream? (none / 0) (#35)
    by Robot Porter on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 10:52:20 AM EST
    Isn't that the green kind made with nuts?

    See what I did there?


    Sorry Steve, it is possible to like both (none / 0) (#20)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 07:00:30 PM EST
    bad boys and good boys. Beyond the Beatles and Stones, Hillary loves Bill who embodies the full spectrum of those qualities.

    Hee hee (none / 0) (#31)
    by Steve M on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 09:08:08 PM EST
    Good analogy!  I do like both chocolate and vanilla, naturally.

    Well, Steve, I'll give you (none / 0) (#26)
    by oldpro on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 07:36:44 PM EST

    I love the Beatles and can barely stand the Stones.  Never could stomach Elvis, either, but listen to Jerry Lee Lewis, like the Boss, love jazz and swing in all their forms but (yawn) not the blues...love symphony but not chamber music.

    Taste.  Go figure.  As I often explain to friends who are horrifed about the tastes of others, that's why they make chocolate, strawberry AND vanilla...in fact, 31 flavors or more from what I hear!


    Think I'll open a carton of maple nut, top it off with hot fudge and turn on some Ella and Mel Torme.


    I posted the quotes about (5.00 / 0) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 06:13:55 PM EST
    Hillary's music tastes last night. Only I didn't have to fact check it, she's said it many times. I also added another one of her favorites...Bon Jovi.

    She also watches Gray's Anatomy, although she often has to Tivo it because she's not home.

    This stuff has been around forever. And, since I think its worthy of noting, I can't criticize Politico.

    We've certainly seen enough news articles about what's on Bush and Obama's iPods.

    Posting quotes about (5.00 / 7) (#8)
    by starsandstripes on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 06:16:41 PM EST
    politician's musical tastes is one thing. Extending one's journalistic capabilities to "fact-check" what a pol claims is their musical tastes - that's just bizarre - are they hoping to trip Hillary up lying about her musical tastes?

    good point (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 06:18:59 PM EST
    I agree with you on that point.

    Totally disagree (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 06:20:54 PM EST
    TalkLeft is not a journalistic enterprise.

    If Politico wants to be thought of as an opinion blog, then that's fine.

    But since it does not, then it is NOT fine.

    Moreover, factchecking musical tastes? Are you kidding me? would you have done it?


    I bet she can really sing too. (none / 0) (#12)
    by oculus on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 06:22:20 PM EST
    Heh (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 06:23:02 PM EST
    Uh no. she can't.

    She has often mentioned (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by Radiowalla on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 06:30:19 PM EST
    that she can't carry a tune.

    I have always related to that.


    And just so you don't forget (none / 0) (#29)
    by NYShooter on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 08:29:42 PM EST
    Schuster just had to play the clip of Hillary "singing" The Star Spangled Banner.

    The man is now THE definition of a jerk.


    Politico is the perfect "publication" for Obama if they truly are:

    As BTD corectly characterized them, they are an online Beltway gossip rag with a direct pipeline to the GOP, and really nothing more.

    And quite frankly, when we see ever-increasing numbers of friends and neighbors out of work and suffering financially, it's patently offensive to think that such self-flattering "cocktail journalists" receive financial remuneration at well above the national average for consistently mediocre effort and highly suspect product.

    My favorite bits in the linked article are:

    Friends say the Obamas are looking to maintain the dizzying social calendar they had in their pre-White House days, while using their knack for socializing to find new friends and win hearts on Capitol Hill and in other Washington power centers.

    "They want to replicate the same kind of environment they had in Chicago," said a longtime friend of the Obamas, adding that White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers is "the perfect person" for the job because she knows the couple's former life inside out and is "designing the calendar to reflect the kinds of things they like to do."

    "If there was a party or an event [in Chicago], they were there," the friend said. "They've always liked to go to lots of restaurants and be a part of the community. Now they want to be a part of D.C."

    "Barack and Michelle have always been interested in the details of people's lives," the confidant said, calling them "people people." "They know who's engaged to whom, what people's spouses do for a living, all about their parents, where they grew up, names of children."

    The president, the friend added, "likes to be in the know."

    I am still looking (none / 0) (#33)
    by lentinel on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 05:28:29 AM EST
    for a politician whose musical heros include Charlie Parker and Lennie Tristano.

    I have to agree (none / 0) (#48)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 04:14:05 PM EST
    and far be it from me to disparage BTD, but I think there may be a great deal of gender bias going on here.

    No one disputes that "Variety" has journalistic chops. But Hedda Hopper? Louella Parsons?

    Let's let Politico be the "soft" coverage. Is "E!News" news? What about "Access Hollywood"? "Inside Edition"? "The O'Reilly Factor"?

    Every paper has an "entertainment" section. Politico is entertainment for Pols. Nothing more, nothing less. They are still journalists, even if they pitch softballs. Who was the ONLY journalist keeping Obama's feet to the fire on Bush/Cheney's crimes? Sam Stein of HuffPo. Everybody else just throws softballs, and don't really deserve the name journalists.

    Speaking for me only. NOT speaking against BTD.


    "People's Magazine for Pols"... (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by santarita on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 06:29:34 PM EST
    that is a great description!  And it fits most of the cable news shows and political websites.  

    Except, I believe People Magazine is more (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 07:01:21 PM EST
    accurate and honest.

    I assume if Politico was around in the '90s they (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by steviez314 on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 07:17:11 PM EST
    would have fact-checked "boxers or briefs".

    Did they fact check diamonds or pearls (none / 0) (#46)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:33:54 PM EST
    or did they fall asleep at the wheel on that one?

    PolitiPo and Hufftico (5.00 / 3) (#32)
    by lentinel on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 05:26:29 AM EST
    Your description of Politico reminds me of my opinion of Huffpo.
    It began with a speck of integrity but quickly descended into Page Six territory where it has festered ever since.

    This is subjective on my part, but I also feel that HuffPo is dangerous. Imo, it is subtly generating support for or acceptance of an attack on Iran.

    "Dangerous" is correct (5.00 / 4) (#42)
    by NYShooter on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:29:29 AM EST
    I understood their posting policies very well, and adhered to them quite stringently, yet, I was deleted 66 times. "Eff-you," and "Hillary is a "C..." sailed right on through. I could no more support Arianna's deviancy by visiting there than visiting a KKK rally. That supposedly intelligent people post and blog there is truly sad.

    The editing that they do is not meant to promote "a free flow of ideas," but rather a cut-and-paste caricature for whatever personal agenda Huffington is pushing.

    She and Rupert Murdoch are identical twins, and the damage they're doing is incalculable.  


    Did they fact check ... (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Robot Porter on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 10:55:06 AM EST
    Obama's favorite songs?

    Fair is fair.

    And his list seemed much more disingenuous.

    "Disingenuous" wouldn't have been (none / 0) (#38)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:02:35 AM EST
    my choice of descriptive, but I agree completely with you that it's hard to believe a 47 man prepared for the serious position of POTUS would have the list of musical artists he does as his favorites. Then, I suppose people would question some of my preferences, as well.  I've honestly never given JayZ a chance.

    Funny Story (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by Robot Porter on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:15:12 AM EST
    Back in 2007, a friend of mine who had a minor position in communications for the Obama campaign was trying to get me to support him.

    I said that if she could prove to me that Obama had more than one punk rock song on his I-pod, I'd give the campaign $200.

    Obama's only a few years older than me, and I said I didn't trust anyone from my generation who wasn't a fan of punk rock.

    Suffice it to say, I never gave the $200.



    You wouldn't play JayZ's "99 Problems" (3.50 / 2) (#40)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:18:23 AM EST
    ("99 Problems: but a B@tch ain't One") at one of your primary victory rallies, as Obama did?

    Some people didn't forget that while JayZ's spouse, Beyonce, was crooning ("At Last My Man has Come") to Obama at the inaugural ball.

    Evidently, Etta James was thoroughly displeased: enough to say: "I can't stand Beyonce...that man [Obama] may be your President, but he ain't mine".


    That may be (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by CST on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:27:07 AM EST
    because Beyonce (terrible actress) plays Etta James in a movie and Etta didn't appreciate the performance.

    Dunno about that... (none / 0) (#44)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:51:54 AM EST
    Here's the YouTube Video/Audio of Etta James dissing both Beyonce and Obama in reference to the use of the inaugural song.

    And Then... (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by daring grace on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 04:48:22 PM EST
    She walked 'em back (her earlier comments):

    " But James has reacted to the controversy by insisting the remarks were meant in jest, and nobody at the show was offended by her comments.

    "She tells the New York Daily News, "I didn't really mean anything. Even as a little child, I've always had that comedian kind of attitude. ... That's probably what went into it."

    "The singer admitted she was put out by Beyonce's performance because it made her feel "left out of something that was basically mine, that I had done every time you look around."

    "But she added: "Nobody was getting mad at me in Seattle. They were all laughing, and it was funny."

    "James is also adamant her comments about Obama's appearance were for a laugh: "(I) always thought he was handsome and he was cool. I still had my joke about him. That might be horrible. The President might not ever like me in life. (But) he's got other stuff (to worry about) besides Etta James." "


    I'm not surprised Etta "walked back" (none / 0) (#50)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 08:29:21 PM EST
    her criticism of Obama and Beyonce after the "controversy" that ensued.

    I don't know about Etta James, but Tavis Smiley got a boat load of death threats when he expressed doubts about Obama a few months ago.  


    Or Could It Be (none / 0) (#52)
    by daring grace on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 02:46:59 PM EST
    She didn't expect the attention for a few comments tossed off on stage between songs?

    Really, I doubt she got death threats for saying Obama has big ears.

    Maybe some enraged Beyonce fans...


    Tavis Smiley (none / 0) (#53)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:21:20 AM EST
    got death threats for less. And Beyonce wasn't a factor there ;-)

    Media Matters Says It All (none / 0) (#3)
    by aeguy on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 06:00:31 PM EST

    Media Matters needs to be (5.00 / 5) (#22)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 07:03:45 PM EST
    watched as closely as everyone else now. They did a terribly imbalanced job of screaming for journalistic integrity when it came to Hillary. Chris Matthews got called out, but Olbermann and most others sure didn't.

    Agreed, to the best of my knowledge, (5.00 / 3) (#28)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 08:04:00 PM EST
    MediaMatters did not write a single word about how Politico launched the Hillary/RFK assassination story; and they said NOTHING about how it subsequently went viral in the mainstream media.

    The RFK story was sufficiently egregious for the Politico editor to set the record straight a few days later. But, by then the damage was done - just like Politico's earlier "slow bleed" story. It was, and is, all by design: tell the big lie and say whoopsie when it's too late.


    When is someone going to factcheck (none / 0) (#5)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 06:08:14 PM EST
    BTD's claim to be Gator fan?

    the press "fact checked" (none / 0) (#34)
    by ruffian on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 09:26:51 AM EST
    Hillary's baseball fan status, so I suppose they think musical tastes are fact checkable too. Hope they never look at my iPod. The cognitive dissonance would make their heads explode.

    This is a little harsh. (none / 0) (#43)
    by 1jpb on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:46:31 AM EST
    I like Ben Smith's blog over at politico.  I wouldn't deny that it can be pol-gossipy, which I admit I like.  But, Smith does also go fairly deep on interesting subjects.  He'll do multiple follow-ups as he follows the real time twists and turns a particular story.

    But, I often go well over a month w/o reading anything at politico other than Ben Smith, which I often check a couple times almost every day.  So, obviously my appreciation for politico is quite narrow, but deep.

    The critique is insufficiently harsh... (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 12:34:16 PM EST
    At least according to Glenn Greenwald and a number of writers at MediaMatters. I'd respectfully encourage you to read the articles about Politico that have been linked here in the preceding comments.

    Handle Ben Smith with caution. He also has a history of being a key source for false stories that go viral. As MediaMatters reported: Ben Smith was the first prominent 'journalist' to accuse Hillary of calling Obama a "secret Muslim" on 60 Minutes (March 2/08):

    within hours of the 60 Minutes'telecast, a Clinton critic quickly posted a truncated video of the interview on YouTube under the loaded headline "Hillary Clinton Stokes False Rumors about Obama's Faith." (Truncated, because the video chopped off the part where Clinton expressed her sympathy for Obama for having to put up with Muslim innuendos.) The video was then pushed out to the press. [snip]

    [A few minutes before 9:18 p.m.] Ben Smith at the Politico had linked to the video, along with his comments, in which he echoed the sentiment of the YouTube headline; that Clinton had come dangerously close to spreading a smear. Smith stressed that Clinton's answer was "weird" and "less than ironclad," that Clinton was in a "danger zone" for even "hinting" that Obama was Muslim, and that she was "leaving [herself] open to uncharitable interpretations."

    Uncharitable interpretation by whom? By people like Smith.

    The story then picked up steam, and the journalism it produced was depressing, albeit not that surprising.

    *In the foregoing instance, Ben Smith and Politico's GOP cohort got a two-fer: they pimped the falsehood that Obama is Muslim, and they blamed it on Hillary.


    Makes sense, and (none / 0) (#47)
    by 1jpb on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:42:29 PM EST
    I already read Smith with the question "I wonder if that's accurate?"  As much as anything my questioning is the result of his, not entirely rare, tendency to correct his own stuff.

    So, sure, I read him w/ a bit of skepticism.  Even so, a) he does get a lot of stuff early and right, and b) by now I've come across enough outright errors and unintentionally incomplete or less than fully informative pieces in WaPo and NYT so that I'm OK w/ non-traditional sources that make a fair number of mistakes.  

    I'm not staking my life (or even a cup of coffee) on the accuracy of any reporting from any single source.

    It's always scary when respected and serious papers and magazines do pieces about subjects where I have deep personal knowledge because of my professional experience.  It's not that they're necessarily factually wrong, though that happens too.  But, it's obvious that they don't thoroughly know the subject.  

    They can easily miss the distinction between what is important/influential and what is not.  Or, I can pick out how they're piecing together interviews from different experts that may have limited focuses on only particular (not necessarily the most important/relevant) sub-aspects, and this information is conglomerated in disjointed ways.

    Then, I wonder "Are they this off the mark when they report on subject areas that I don't know inside and out?"


    Hmm, yes the guys at Politico routinely (none / 0) (#51)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 08:38:26 PM EST
    correct their errors - after a lot of damage is done, usually to progressives/Democrats. It's a schtick, whereby they offset their muck-racking with a pretense of journalistic integrity.

    Drudge links to Politico more than any other source - so says Media Matters. That's all I need to know.