The Mirror

Has Politico Found Its Nuts? Labor Reporter May Finally Be Out

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
Font Size:

Politico senior labor reporter Mike Elk has been in a tug of war with Politico for months. He was hired last September and a year later, some are shocked he lasted this long.

According to a Politico employee, the Rosslyn, Va. newsroom is buzzing this morning as Elk’s status at the publication appears to be a mystery. His Politico email doesn’t work and his bio is gone from the masthead. His Twitter bio, however, still says he’s employed at Politico.

Those details were first reported by HuffPost‘s Michael Calderone. But something is still fishy: The usually verbose Elk won’t confirm that he has quit or that he’s been fired. And Politico management isn’t talking. Even internally, things are being kept quite mum.

When asked Monday morning if Politico had fired him, this was his reply.

“This story isn’t about me,” he wrote The Mirror. “This story is about media workers who are organizing at record pace across the industry. The Washington Baltimore Newspaper Guild and The European Federation of Journalist [sic] will be handling all comments on the union drive at politico from here on out. Again this story isn’t about me, it’s about why digital media workers are organizing across the industry. That’s on the record.”

Elk wrote a couple of strange emails to The Mirror late last week when I requested comment from him about his status at Politico and whether they had allowed him back into the swank Rosslyn, Va. newsroom.

“Connect the dots,” he wrote, with a link of his recent first-person account of his PTSD for HuffPost.

When asked why he wrote this for HuffPost and not Politico, he replied, “We gotta organize huff post [sic] too.” I pressed about whether or not he was back in his newsroom. He replied, “I dunno what’s happening. Guild is handling the ada stuff.” I pushed, “Well, you know if you’re in the office or not.
Are you? And you have to know what’s happening.” He replied, “It’s complicated – guild is handling it all – call them.”

A source wrote to say, “I love how Politico indulges this insanity.”

On Friday, I received this from Elk:

Hey I’m going on vaca for two weeks to Baltimore then to dog sit for JP at his lake house in Kentucky.As a labor reporter with disability, I am really glad to be a member of the Washington Baltimore Newspaper Guild. It’s just mentally exhausting to have to talk about ptsd all the time so there are just gonna handle stuff from here. 

Before he went to work for Politico, Elk promised his employer that he wouldn’t try to unionize the newsroom. But with his roots, his history and his upbringing, he couldn’t keep that promise. In December, he announced he was organizing.

But due to his PTSD, or Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder, as his condition was once explained to The Mirror, Human Resources asked him to work from home, which is where he has been since January. He returned briefly, but was quickly ordered out of the newsroom again, allegedly to accommodate his Stress Disorder.

Over the past several months, he has used his membership in the Washington Baltimore Newspaper Guild to say what he wants to reporters and on social media regarding his organizing Politico‘s newsroom.

When he wrote a lengthy first-person account of his PTSD for HuffPost, it was a surprise since that site fired him in 2011 because he lent his press credentials to a union protestor.

HuffPost wasn’t paying him for his blogging — but whatever, all the easier to can him.

Elk did not reply to specific email requests for comment as to whether he is still employed with Politico.