Mike Allen’s Politico “Playbook” is one of those must-reads for those in-the-know inside the bubble of Washington, D.C. However, conspicuously lacking from it has been coverage of the New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner’s “sexting” troubles.
This is something that caught the attention of Fishbowl DC editor Betsy Rothstein. In a Friday evening post, Rothstein tracked day-by-day coverage of “Weinergate” and concluded Allen “virtually ignored the scandal.”
“This week we noticed that Politico Playbook by Mike Allen virtually ignored the scandal of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.),” Rothstein wrote. “To his credit, Allen is the type of Washington reporter who rarely misses a beat on any story much less the one dominating headlines. So we found it surprising that he basically bypassed the biggest story coming out of Washington this week.”
In the story Rothstein said she sought comment from Allen, who didn’t respond until the next day in his Saturday edition of the Playbook, but with a snarky tip for “young journalists,” apparently referring to Rothstein:
BEHIND THE CURTAIN: Fishbowl DC posted an item last night complaining that Playbook had “virtually ignored” Rep. Weiner’s travails (!). The media website emailed us for comment at 6:34 p.m., then posted the item at 6:39 p.m., saying: “We sought comment from Allen.” (Memo to young journalists: Among the reasons you don’t do this, aside from simple courtesy, is that if you give the person a chance to respond, you might learn something you don’t know.)
However Allen was curiously open about Playbook’s decision to say very little about “Weinergate” and boasted about its “our judgment and restraint” in ignoring the story:
The query tickled us, because we had been flooded with email thanking us for our judgment and restraint. In fact, a former Obama administration official was making that very point to us in line at the Biden BBQ when the Fishbowl email popped up. She laughed and said she would vouch for us.
Expectedly, Rothstein promptly returned the volley at Allen in a Saturday post “Incest Desk: The Weinerless Politico Mike Allen Edition,” and pulled no punches in pointing out the double standard of Allen and his coziness with the White House.
“Peculiar though, is the fact that Allen has amply covered, prominently displayed and even broken news on other political scandals — try Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), and Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) to cite three relatively recent examples,” Rothstein wrote. “But Allen is onto something. We did learn ‘something’ from him today. 1. When Allen doesn’t want to answer questions, he doesn’t. We still don’t know if anyone asked him to not cover the scandal. 2. Getting praise from an ex-Obama official is worth not covering a story.”
Rothstein wondered if Allen had earned any gold stars on the “Incest Desk” for impressing Obama officials but offered Allen, a seasoned journalist some advice:
Memo to seasoned journalists: If the goal of a seasoned journalist these days is to seek the praise of government officials then better not to be one. And a note to Allen: Anytime you’d like to answer our questions, our site is open to you. Enjoy the weekend.
In Sunday’s Playbook, Allen did not respond to Rothstein’s Saturday post.