The Mirror

National Review Deleted A Story About Politico — But Why?

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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Rich Lowry is the editor-in-chief of National Review. And like many journalists these days, he contributes to a second outlet. That would be Politico, where he’s an opinion columnist who sometimes writes for the magazine.

A story slashing a bunch of Politico employees for enjoying cozy ties to people in politics went up on his site on April 17. It has since come down. It’s nowhere to be found.

Here’s what you see when you click on the link.

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The url couldn’t be more fitting: “Incestuous Washington Publication Bravely Reports Washington Incestuousness.” The National Review story calls into question a recent story published by Politico about Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) dating an airline-industry lobbyist. It points out a variety of cozy, possibly painfully sticky ties that Politico employees have to their husbands and wives.

For instance, the piece calls out congressional reporter Jake Sherman for being married to a lawyer at a prominent Washington lobbying firm. She’s a former political aide to a Democratic representative. It also points to editor-in-chief John Harris, whose wife worked for a political candidate, now a member of Congress. The candidate’s campaign got a plug in Politico Playbook. Suffice it to say the examples are plentiful.

Here’s a taste of the now-missing National Review story:

“In a town as dominated by politics as Washington D.C., romances between individuals working in similar fields who could, potentially, grant professional favors to one another are utterly conventional, if not downright inevitable. Which is why the Shuster story — particularly after all the steps the representative reportedly took to clear the relationship with House ethics officials — looks, on closer examination, a little bit dog-bites-man. And no one should know that better than Politico editors and reporters themselves.”

Congressional reporter John Bresnahan, who turns his nose up at media reporting and doesn’t consider it to be a real beat, didn’t care for the story that was exceptionally reported by Brendon Bordelon. One can only highly suspect that it is because he’s one of three bylines on one of the stories that condemn Shuster dating the lobbyist. Politico reporter Adam Lerner wrote the other. The aforementioned Jake Sherman is another byline on these stories along with Anna Palmer. 

(On a side note: Bresnahan attended Sherman’s wedding, a cozy affair in which guests held up “Hillary for President” signs at the reception.)

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(Full disclosure: Bordelon previously worked at The Daily Caller. Everyone seemed to like him a great deal. He did not return requests for comment either on or off the record or on background. My sources tell me he had nothing to do with me learning about the existence of this story.)

The Mirror requested comment from Lowry. I asked Lowry three questions: 1. Why was it taken down? 2. Was it removed because you’re an opinion columnist at Politico? 3. Are you paid by Politico?

National Review‘s Washington editor, Eliana Johnson, emailed The Mirror the following answer: “That piece came out of my office in DC and was pulled because it wasn’t up to our editorial standards.”

Why wasn’t it up to editorial standards?

“Sorry, Betsy, that’s all I’m going to say about it,” Johnson replied. “As any reporter knows, a lot of these things don’t come down to a set of strict rules but rather to a matter of judgment, and I decided that for a number of reasons this didn’t belong on our site.”

Correction: Jake Sherman’s wife is a lawyer for a prominent lobbying firm. She’s a former aide to a Democratic congresswoman. The error was that she’s still a Capitol Hill aide. She is not.