Politico Staff Objects After Right-Wing Star Ben Shapiro Writes Newsletter
Politico faced a backlash from its staff on Thursday after giving right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro its Playbook newsletter for a day, a popular morning reading in Washington.
A month after the two longtime Playbook writers left, Politico brought in a number of guests to handle the daily writing. For the past few days they have been recording NBC News’s Chris Hayes; Eliana Johnson, editor-in-chief of The Washington Free Beacon; and James Bennet, the former opinion editor of the New York Times.
Politico’s decision to turn Mr Shapiro around has been criticized by Politico journalists. More than 200 employees took part in a Zoom call with editor-in-chief Matthew Kaminski on Thursday afternoon to discuss the move. Many argued that Politico should not have given the platform to Mr. Shapiro, the host of the podcast and radio show “The Ben Shapiro Show”, according to two reporters of the call, who spoke about internal discussions on condition of anonymity.
In his edition of the newsletter, Shapiro wrote that Republican leaders were entitled to oppose President Trump’s second impeachment because “there is a deep and enduring conservative belief that members of the opposing political tribe want their destruction, not just for Trump for punishing his behavior. “
Mr. Shapiro is a retired editor at Breitbart News and the author of “Brainwashing: How Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth” and “How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps”. He said that transgender people have a “mental disorder”. In 2016, Mr Shapiro wrote on Twitter that Trayvon Martin, a black teenager whose murder in 2012 by a Florida neighborhood guard volunteer made national news, “would have turned 21 today if he hadn’t taken a man’s head and hit him would have the patch before it gets shot. “(The circumstances surrounding Mr. Martin’s death were controversial. There were no witnesses to the shooting.)
During the call on Thursday, some Politico officials identified Mr. Shapiro as a fanatic who should not have written the newsletter, the two reporters said. Mr. Kaminski, the editor, stood behind the decision and did not apologize for it, the two reporters said.
A Politico spokesman said in a statement that the publication attempted “to compile a list of guest authors who are prominent thinkers and writers and hold 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 if many try to drag us into it,” the statement continued.
Mr Shapiro said Thursday that he was grateful to Politico for the opportunity and not surprised by the response. “I openly warned the editors at Politico that they would likely suffer such a setback if they hosted me, and to their credit they hosted me anyway,” he said in an email interview.
Mr Shapiro said criticism from Politico’s staff demonstrated a point he has been making for years. “This phenomenon – the marginalization of conservatives in the broader sense as the ultimate goal of many leftists – was the very point of my play in Playbook,” he wrote in the email.
Playbook’s four-year writers, Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer, left in December to start Punchbowl News, a competitor of Politico, with another former Politico reporter, John Bresnahan.