Politico Editor-in-Chief John Harris was ambushed Wednesday afternoon at a Nats game by a fired employee with a grudge.
Welcome to the pitfalls of “journalism” in the modern era.
Mike Elk is a former Politico labor reporter who was fired in 2015. He now runs Payday Report, a labor publication that largely relies on the donations of strangers. Elk has continuously maintained that he negotiated a $70K payout from Politico.
He showed up to the game and confronted his old boss ostensibly to thank him.
Harris, 55, was apparently enjoying a beer, which Elk noted on Twitter. Harris is well over the legal age for drinking alcoholic beverages, which are not forbidden on weekday afternoons. Journalists and humans from all walks of life are known to enjoy these sorts of beverages in daylight hours, especially at a baseball game.
Elk showered Harris with questions about his firing.
“My rights were clearly violated as the Virginia Employment Commission found,” Elk told Harris after two men shook hands and Elk thanked him for firing him. “…Good seeing you!”
Harris continuously smiled and said he had nothing to do with the termination. He told Elk that he would need to contact the appropriate parties. When Elk pestered Harris about just who had fired him, Harris played dumb and said he didn’t know. (RELATED: Politico Denies Labor Reporter Was Fired Because Of Union Organizing)
Elk tweeted about the incident and posted the video.
Just thanked @politico editor-in-Chief @harrispolitico, who was drinking on a Weds afternoon at the Nats Game, for illegally firing me & giving me the 70k in an NLRB settlement that I used to start @PaydayReport.
He was a good sport & claimed it wasn’t his call to fire me haha pic.twitter.com/RLoXhqZTbU
— Mike Elk (@MikeElk) September 4, 2019
Elk added on Twitter, “@Nicole_Cliffe only spent $9 of what you sent me to sneak down behind home plate and tell the Politico EIC, how happy I was that they illegally smeared my struggle with PTSD. Still got a lot more of your $$$ to spend confronting bad men in media at ballgames.”
The reality is that Politico editors never quite gelled with Elk, who repeatedly tried to unionize the newsroom, which, of course, is not illegal. Elk made it clear with higher-ups that he had PTSD stemming from a source, a Honeywell worker, who had committed suicide. Eventually, the Politico powers that be instructed Elk to work from home since he indicated that the inner-workings of the newsroom were stressing him out. (RELATED: Has Anybody Seen Activist Labor Reporter Mike Elk?)
Back in the summer of 2015, there was all kinds of drama. (RELATED: Politico Sh*tstorm: Mike Elk Thinks He Still Works For Politico — Why Is That?)
By December of that year, Elk was on a rampage against the publication. (RELATED: Mike Elk Blows Up At Ex-Politico Colleagues, Calls Them Unethical Suckups)
Baseball games are supposed to be fun. While it’s understandable that Harris found himself in an incredibly awkward situation, saying something as absurd as he didn’t know what was going on at his own publication in 2015 is ludicrous, however inappropriate Elk’s behavior was.
Harris was within his rights to call stadium security. A person enjoying a baseball game doesn’t have to agree to be harassed.
On the other hand, the stadium is a public place and Harris, a longtime, known Washington journalist, is something of a public figure.
Either way, editors, beware.