Politics

Ousted Politico reporter technically still employed with company while seeking new job

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

Politico says White House correspondent Joe Williams is on his way out the door.

But the reporter who found himself ousted from his job — after making a penis joke about the Romneys, accusing his own publication of “blatant racism” and saying the Republican nominee for president is much more comfortable around “white folks” — isn’t technically gone yet.

In fact, Williams — who pleaded guilty in May to assaulting his ex-wife — is still employed with the company and is still using his company email.

Why?

“Joe is on leave of absence,” editor-in-chief John Harris told The Daily Caller.

But didn’t Williams lose his job?

Harris said the reporter’s leave of absence will end when Williams finds a new job.

A June 30 Politico memo explained that Williams would leave the organization and start making the transition to another job, but would technically remain employed during the period.

“He’ll be on leave of absence during this transition, and he’s got my gratitude for the contributions he made here, both as reporter and editor,” Harris wrote in a memo.

Harris said that Williams will have his “support as he prepares for what I expect will be a good and prominent next chapter in his career.”

But since his ouster, Williams has been caught in another embarrassing episode and has been accusing news outlets of being part of a right-wing conspiracy to take him down.

On Thursday, Williams was using his Politico work email to address the revelation that he pleaded guilty in May to assaulting his ex-wife. He used the office email to send a statement to reporters defending himself from the charge, and to attack his ex-wife in writing.

“Sadly, this is the latest incident in a difficult post-divorce relationship; I’ve contacted police and social services several times because of my former spouse’s aggressive behavior,” Williams wrote.

He argued in the email that he only pleaded guilty to the charges in May “to avoid an acrimonious, embarrassing trial” in “the best interest of my children.”

Appearing on a news show Thursday, Williams blamed the “right-wing noise machine” for examining his remarks on MSNBC and on Twitter and making them public.

“You have them trying to portray me as a biased, distasteful journalist, although my record over 28 years, you simply can’t make that claim,” Williams argued.

But a sampling of his recent remarks online and on TV tell a different story, according to critics: Williams accused Romney of being more comfortable with “white folks who are very much relaxed in their own company.”

He responded to a comment made by radio host Rush Limbaugh by saying that was “mighty white of him.”

Responding to a comment made by Ann Romney, Williams said, “Either Ann Romney meant Mitt is flaccid or that when we ‘unzip him’ we’ll find he’s a d–k.”

And he even accused his own publication of “blatant racism,” saying it’s “the secret sauce in the Politico shitburger.”

Asked earlier on Thursday to explain if Williams was given a payout package when his departure was negotiated, Harris told TheDC, “I am not weighing in on this.”

The Daily Caller attempted to interview Williams on Thursday afternoon outside of a television studio in Washington D.C., but he brushed the questions off.

“Actually, I’m going in, so I’ll call you back,” he told TheDC.

Williams didn’t respond to an email asking about his status with the company.

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