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Politico On Defensive After CNN Shows Editorial Meeting Full Of White Guys

Politico‘s John F. Harris is on the defensive over the diversity of his staff after CNN’s Reliable Sources showed an editorial meeting that featured an all-white crowd and few women.

The publication’s editor-in-chief told Journal-isms columnist Richard Prince that the camera shots didn’t reflect the diversity of Politico’s staff, especially when it came to the number of women who work at the organization. Harris, however, refused to discuss actual numbers with Prince, saying “our corporate policies don’t allow me to release numerical data.”

The Reliable Sources segment was designed to show Politico’s preparation for covering the vote over the health care bill.

CNN commentator Roland Martin tweeted his reaction to the segment while it was playing, saying “CNN showing an editorial meeting of Politico.com. NOT ONE MINORITY in the room. U wonder why coverage isn’t inclusive?” He followed up with another tweet, saying “I see one woman. But she didn’t say a word! Was she window dressing? Does Politico know how this looks? Pathetic!” He also posted the tweets on his Facebook page.

The Politico meeting caused controversy on the National Association of Black Journalists e-mail list, Prince reported, with many people furthering Martin’s assertion that the single woman was merely “window dressing.”

In an e-mail to Prince, Harris was especially frustrated with the assertion that the woman seen on the screen was “a token.” Harris wrote “I do wish to disabuse you of the idea that the editorial meeting featured ‘token representation of women.’ The women in that meeting included our managing editor for on-line (in charge of the web site), the deputy managing editor (in charge of running the print operation day to day) and one of our lead White House reporters.”

A review of Politico’s masthead does show a number of women in key editorial roles, including Danielle Jones who is managing editor for the online efforts. Other top women include one deputy managing editor, two assistant managing editors, the features editor, and the copy desk chief. The only minority manager in the newswroom is director of photography Michael Schwartz.

“We have racial diversity in most of the most important positions in our newsroom–on the White House team, on our photo team, on the copy and production desks, and on our congressional team,” Harris said in his email to Prince.

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