More Than 100 Politico Staffers Reportedly Send Letter to Publisher Over Ben Shapiro’s Edition of Playbook


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More than 100 Politico staffers have reportedly signed a letter to publisher Robert Allbritton over the decision to allow right-wing firebrand Ben Shapiro guest-author the Playbook newsletter for one day, according to a Daily Beast report.

Shapiro, who has made derogatory remarks about Muslims, African-Americans, women, LGBTQ people, and secular Jewish people, led the January 14 edition of Playbook with a essay titled “The real reason most republicans opposed impeachment,” taking shots at existing Playbook readers, and arguing that conservatives believe that Trump supporters will face “repression everywhere from social media to employment.”

The decision to publish Shapiro faced a near-immediate internal – and external – backlash.

In the letter, staffers expressed disgust with the decision, reportedly criticizing the choice to let Shapiro guest-write Playbook and saying it had “demoralized a substantial portion of the newsroom,” according to the Daily Beast.

The letter also reportedly criticized the response from Politico editor in chief Matt Kaminski, who has defended the decision to hand the newsletter over to Shapiro for the day. According to the Daily Beast, the letter said that Kaminski had not appropriately apologized for his response to the internal backlash, and reportedly defending the decision to “experiment and mix things up” in order to keep Politico “vital and vibrant.”

The letter from staffers also reportedly requests a clarification and improvement of Politico’s editorial standards, an increase in newsroom diversity, an editor’s note on Shapiro’s Playbook post, and an internal apology for management’s response to staff criticism of the decision to publish Shapiro.

The Daily Beast also reports that some staffers said the letter didn’t represent the overall mood at Politico, with several saying they hadn’t heard about the letter, or weren’t asked to sign it.

When asked about the letter, a Politico spokesperson told Mediaite: “It’s an internal matter and will be handled as such.”

Politico had announced at the end of December that Playbook would start the year with a serious of guest authors. Longtime Playbook editors Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer left the publication at the end of the year to launch Punchbowl, a daily politics newsletter focusing on news about Capitol Hill.

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