Suspended reporter tweeted: Racism ‘secret sauce in the Politico sh*tburger’

David Martosko Executive Editor
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Joe Williams, the White House correspondent whom Politico suspended last week after he made racially insensitive remarks about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, tweeted about his employer on the evening of March 30 that “what’s most irritating is the overlay of blatant racism. that’s the secret sauce in the Politico shitburger.”

The Daily Caller has obtained an archive covering several months of Williams’ Twitter activity.

In a tweet nine minutes before that comment, Williams wrote that “we’re supposed to be about justice and the truth, but we’re mostly about posturing, arcane rules and CYA [Cover Your Ass]. annoying.”

The two messages seem out of place in the context of Williams’ other tweets that day, most of which involved mocking Romney for being wealthy. “We get to talk about [Romney’s] car elevator for another day?” he tweeted. “#Awesome.” It’s possible the comments critical of Politico were meant to be “direct messages” — private notes intended for a single person to read — and broadcast publicly by mistake.

But when asked about his March 30 tweets, Williams would only say, “I was having a bad day,” before referring TheDC to attorney Jeff Jacobovitz for comment.

Three hours later, Williams’ Twitter account was deleted. He had “protected” it after his Politico suspension went into effect, making its contents unavailable to all but a small group of Twitter followers whom he had approved.

Williams, a former deputy Washington bureau chief at the Boston Globe, began reporting for Politico in April 2011. His presence in the newsroom came to a crashing halt, however, after he told MSNBC’s Martin Bashir during a June 21 broadcast that Romney “is very, very comfortable, it seems, with people who are like him. … [W]hen he comes on ‘Fox and Friends,’ they’re like him, they’re white folks who are very much relaxed in their own company.”

Politico suspended Williams for that comment, noting “an unacceptable number of Joe Williams’s public statements on cable and Twitter” that “cumulatively, require us to make clear that our standards are serious, and so are the consequences for disregarding them.”

In one tweet first reported by Breitbart.com, Williams responded to an observation by Romney’s wife Ann, who said his political handlers should “unzip him and let the real Mitt Romney out” so Americans could see his humorous side.

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

The tweets from March 30 show a racial prism over Williams’ perception of how Politico assembles its reporting. Racial issues have made frequent appearances in Williams’ tweets.

On April 2, responding to reports that conservative talker Rush Limbaugh said reactions to the Trayvon Martin shooting were “doing more harm to the black community,” Williams tweeted that the statement was “mighty white of him.”

On April 11, after National Review fired long-time columnist John Derbyshire in response to racist arguments he made in another publication, Williams wrote that the conservative journal as a whole was a racist institution. National Review “sets up ‘remedial racism’ course,” he mock-reported in a tweet.

And responding to questions raised in an April 10 Washington Post column about why Republicans had not promoted Florida Rep. Allen West as a possible vice presidential nominee, Williams tweeted an answer: They “found out he’s black.”

Williams’ March 30 tweet complaining about “blatant racism” at Politico may refer to the news outlet’s choice of assignments for him: During the weeks leading up to that date, most of Williams’ non-White House reporting focused on the Trayvon Martin shooting, Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, and the disgraced “green jobs czar” Van Jones.

Politico published Williams’ story about Jones — a positive review of the black community organizer’s book, “Rebuild the Dream” — less than two hours before he sent the two tweets about his employer.

That context may be important, and Jacobovitz complained to TheDC that other news organizations had made his client “the victim of … articles that have mischaracterized and taken out of context various tweets or TV statements.”

But Jacobovitz, speaking for Williams, declined to answer when TheDC asked him to provide a meaningful context for the March 30 tweets.

Reached for comment, Politico editor-in-chief John Harris told TheDC that he was largely unfamiliar with the mechanics of Twitter archives, and that “it would be irresponsible for me to comment at this point.”

Although Jacobovitz said that he “represent[s]” Williams “with respect to negotiations with Politico,” Harris said he wasn’t aware of who Jacobovitz was.

This story was updated after publication.

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