Politico hires Yahoo! bureau chief who was fired for racial statements

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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Remember David Chalian, the ousted Yahoo! News Washington bureau chief who took an ill-advised racial jab at the Republican Party and its presidential nominee Mitt Romney?  He has a new professional home, in suburban Virginia, as the new vice president of video programming at the left-leaning Politico website.

In August on the set of the ABC News/Yahoo! News webcast in Tampa, Fla., at the site of the Republican National Convention, Chalian was caught on a live microphone suggesting the GOP would be happy to have “black people drowning” as Hurricane Isaac threatened New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. (RELATED: Yahoo! News Washington bureau chief on the Romneys: “They are happy to have a party with black people drowning”)

“They aren’t concerned at all,” Chalian said on the live broadcast. “They are happy to have a party with black people drowning.”

Yahoo! News ultimately cut Chalian loose over that statement, which the organization said “was inappropriate and does not represent the views of Yahoo!”

At the time, pundits and media writers saw Chalian’s comments as a sign of entrenched media bias against conservatives. (RELATED: Ari Fleischer weighs in on firing of Yahoo! News Washington Bureau chief)

And now Chalian is a Politico vice president at the news outlet’s Arlington, Va., headquarters.

In a post by the website’s media blogger Dylan Byers published Friday morning, Politico editor-in-chief John Harris admitted Chalian’s remarks were “a lapse in judgment,” but touted him as “superbly well-qualified.”

“This is a journalist who carries with him more than a decade of accomplishment and a well-earned reputation for fairness,” Harris continued. “We do not believe that lapse in one moment negates a reputation held in high regard by political professionals in both parties. He’s superbly well-qualified to help us achieve a strategic goal that is very important for Politico.”

Chalian’s hiring follows a long line of Politico employees, past and present, who have had a penchant for viewing those on the political right through a harsh prism.

Politico’s deep bench of journalistic talent has included Jonathan Allen, who left in January 2010 to work for Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, now the Democratic National Committee chairwoman. But Allen returned shortly thereafter and has disclosed he had made a campaign contribution to the reelection effort of then-Arkansas Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln.

Last summer, now-former Politico reporter Joe Williams lost his position at the Virginia-based outlet for declaring Romney was making appearances on the Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” because he was comfortable with “white folks.” Shortly after that incident, Williams pleaded guilty to assaulting his ex-wife.

Another Politico reporter, Andy Barr, who had covered 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin — often with critical headlines like “Sarah Palin’s political mystery tour,” “So unfav: Palin’s poll plunge” and “Sarah Palin on Barack Obama speech: ‘WTF'” — left Politico to work with the Democratic Party in Arizona in July 2011.

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Jeff Poor