Politics

Politico suspends reporter for saying Romney more comfortable with ‘people like him, white folks’

Photo of Jeff Poor
Jeff Poor
Media Reporter

Late Thursday, Politico announced the suspension of Joe Williams for his remarks earlier in the day suggesting that presumptive Republican nominee was Mitt Romney was more “relaxed” around white folks.

“It’s very interesting that he does so many appearances on ‘Fox & Friends,’” Williams said. “And it’s unscripted. It’s the only time they let Mitt off the leash. But it also points out a larger problem he’s got to solve if he wants to be successful come this fall. Romney is very, very comfortable, it seems, with people who are like him.”

“That’s one of the reasons why he seems so stiff and awkward in town hall settings, why he can’t relate to people other than that. But when he comes on ‘Fox & Friends,’ they’re like him. They’re white folks who are very much relaxed in their own company. So it really is a very stark contrast, I think and a problem that he’s not been able to solve to date and he’s going to have to work harder if he’s going to try to compete.”

As Politico blogger Dylan Byers reported early Friday morning, Williams was suspended for the comments, which were originally flagged by the Washington Free Beacon. Williams’ suspension was announced to the newsroom in a memo sent to the staff by Politico editors John Harris and Jim VandeHei.

“Regrettably, an unacceptable number of Joe Williams’s public statements on cable and Twitter have called into question his commitment to this responsibility,” Harris and VandeHei wrote. “His comment about Governor Romney earlier today on MSNBC fell short of our standards for fairness and judgment in an especially unfortunate way.”

“Joe has acknowledged that his appearance reflected a poor choice of words,” the continued. “This appearance came in the context of other remarks on Twitter that, cumulatively, require us to make clear that our standards are serious, and so are the consequences for disregarding them. This is true for all POLITICO journalists, including an experienced and well-respected voice like Joe Williams.”

Williams has frequently made use of the race card in his MSNBC appearances.  Last week he said race was a factor in an ill-timed question from Daily Caller White House correspondent Neil Munro. He has also compared conservative radio talker Rush Limbaugh to a “serial murderer” back in March in the midst of Limbaugh’s Sandra Fluke controversy.

Follow Jeff on Twitter