For a publication that routinely scoops the competition, it's startling to see Politico's dismissal of well-sourced stories published elsewhere. Today, an article by Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei and chief White House correspondent Mike Allen inflamed media critics by suggesting that lengthy stories in The New York Times and The Washington Post criticizing Mitt Romney were promoted by the papers while damaging stories about Barack Obama were underplayed. Are we to believe Politico would thumb its nose at a Romney-was-a-gay-bully scoop?
The outrage over the story has come in many forms. GQ's Devin Gordon called the article a "business" decision to smear the political coverage "of Politico's biggest rivals." The Huffington Post's Michael Calderone, a former Politico reporter, called it a "classic Washington beat-sweetener, the type of piece reporters write to curry favor with and access to potential sources." New York's Joe Coscarelli called it sucking up to Romney and The American Prospect's Paul Waldman cited the piece as evidence that GOP has gotten to Politico.
Setting aside the never-ending debate about mainstream media bias, what's disturbing about the story is the apparent disdain Politico holds for heavy-lift, well-researched stories that come from outside its Arlington, Virginia headquarters. At its opening, the article suggests the "big spread" and "front page" placement of Trip Gabriel's New York Times story on Ann Romney's love of dressage was over-played. Ditto for Jason Horowitz's Washington Post's story, "another front-pager." One of the problems VandeHei and Allen seem to have with the pieces is that they're longform. They write of Horowitz, "the 5,500-word account was invested with far more significance than it merited," while the word-count of Gabriel's piece gets dropped into this sentence: "The 2,300-word piece raises the possibility that Mrs. Romney was aware that a horse sold on her behalf was injured worse than advertised."