Politico chose Ben Shapiro to write a column in their Politico Playbook this morning, something most people in the news industry read on a daily basis. Shapiro’s topic for this morning’s column was to explain why Republicans understandably voted against impeachment; why they didn’t necessarily do it because they were happy about Trump’s behavior, but because they saw impeachment as the unfair politics of political destruction targeting not only Trump, but themselves.
Here’s a snippet to give you an idea:
Many in the media seem bewildered that House Republicans didn’t unanimously join Democrats in supporting impeachment (looking at you, Playbook readers in the media) — after all, Republicans were in the building when rioters broke through, seeking to do them grievous physical harm. My Republican sources tell me that opposition to impeachment doesn’t spring from generalized sanguinity over Trump’s behavior: I’ve been receiving calls and texts for more than a week from elected Republicans heartsick over what they saw in the Capitol.
Opposition to impeachment comes from a deep and abiding conservative belief that members of the opposing political tribe want their destruction, not simply to punish Trump for his behavior. Republicans believe that Democrats and the overwhelmingly liberal media see impeachment as an attempt to cudgel them collectively by lumping them in with the Capitol rioters thanks to their support for Trump.
In New York Times fashion, this didn’t go over well among the natives at Politico and those in the MSM who read it. But unlike the New York Times, Politico isn’t backing down from their decision, so far:
DAILY BEAST – Politico is facing backlash on Thursday—both internally and externally—for handing over the keys to its signature news product for the day to Ben Shapiro, an oft-incendiary right-wing commentator.
“We published a piece by a very prominent writer, provocateur, and podcaster. We stand by every word in there, it was very closely edited,” the outlet’s top editor Matt Kaminski said as part of his response to staffers during a Thursday meeting.
At another point, the top editor added: “Mischief making has always been a part of Politico’s secret sauce. We were an upstart. Some of that sensibility is always going to be a part of this publication.”
Over the past several weeks, Politico has filled the temporary editorial vacancy atop the Playbook by inviting high-profile political reporters and commentators to author the highly influential morning political newsletter and tip-sheet for Beltway insiders. The tipsheet in recent weeks has been authored by well-known TV hosts like MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, as well as reporters like CBS’s Weijia Jiang, PBS’s White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, and the Washington Free Beacon’s editor-in-chief Eliana Johnson. NBC’s Meet the Press host Chuck Todd is also expected to guest-author the Playbook in coming weeks.
But on Thursday, Politico turned the newsletter over to Shapiro, who used the space for a column making the case that the House Republicans who voted against impeaching Trump—despite his repeated lies about the 2020 election and his stoking of rioters who stormed the Capitol in his name last week—are right to feel aggrieved.
“If you supported Trump in any way, you were at least partially culpable, the argument goes. It’s not just Trump who deserves vitriol—it’s all 74 million people who voted for him,” Shapiro wrote, further claiming: “Opposition to impeachment comes from a deep and abiding conservative belief that members of the opposing political tribe want their destruction, not simply to punish Trump for his behavior.”
Shapiro’s guest appearance was not particularly well-received.
Internally at Politico, several staffers raised concerns about the decision to allow him to guest-write the key newsletter, even for a day. One staffer pointed out in a company-wide Slack channel that the right-wing pundit has a “long history of bigoted and incendiary commentary,” making it especially inappropriate to elevate him in the wake of last week’s violent attack on the Capitol by rioters who, critics say, have been radicalized for years by the fiery rhetoric of right-wing media stars like Shapiro.
“It has clearly generated a wave of negative attention, and I fear it’s already overshadowing a lot of great work being done by journalists across this newsroom,” the staffer added. The comment received several dozen upvotes from Politico colleagues.
“This is especially confusing given the newsroom’s welcome efforts over the last year to cover issues related to race in a more intentional, elevated, thoughtful way,” another staffer responded.
Outside the Beltway-centric outlet, reporters and columnists alike voiced anger and disappointment with Politico’s decision—all noting Shapiro’s long career in divisive, toxic rhetoric about the LGBT community, Muslims, Black Americans, and Jews who support Democratic politicians. Others, like NBC’s Mehdi Hasan, lambasted the outlet giving free air to Shapiro to make bad-faith false equivalences between Trump and Bernie Sanders or Stacey Abrams. Critics also noted that, on Wednesday, Shapiro seemingly downplayed the severity of the Capitol riot by remarking “literally every human I know owns zip ties” in response to images of MAGA mob members toting zip ties and flex cuffs.
I read the entire article and it was well written, well thought-out, and overall a great article. These leftists simply cannot tolerate any dissention whatsoever. But instead of attacking the article they attack the author, falsely accusing him of racism and bigotry, something we know is patently untrue.
Just a few minutes ago, WAPO writer Erik Wemple tweeted that there are over 225 people on a zoom call with Politico, outraged that Shapiro was asked to write the Playbook:
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) January 14, 2021
This is the mob mentality of the left. They can’t just disagree and let it go, they must get outraged and put tremendous amounts of pressure on the leadership at Politico which allowed this, until they break. It happened last year at the New York Times when Tom Cotton wrote his opinion piece called “Send in the Troops”. The New York Times broke under the pressure, and I suspect Politico may break too. I hope not, but at the end of the day they are another left-wing outlet and they will likely kowtow to their MSM readers with an apology and a vow to never do this again.