Accuracy in Media

Politico co-founder and editor-in-Chief John F. Harris was criticized by conservatives for appearing to imply that President Trump is a “white nationalist” in charge of the GOP in a tweet that Harris said was a “quip” that was “lost in Twitter translation.”

The controversy began when political scientist Larry Sabato tweeted an NBC News story headlined: “White nationalist leader wants to ‘take over the GOP’”.

Harris responded via Twitter: “Thought that job had been filled.”

Republican strategist Arthur Schwartz was upset by Harris’ tweet and responded to Harris: “Until this guy is gone from Politico, no Republicans should take calls from or help his reporters. He’s not hiding it — this is what he thinks of us. Despicable,” Schwartz wrote.

Harris sent a reply to Schwartz, saying that the Republican had made a “fair point” and that Harris’ original tweet was intended to be “a quip about the headline on the NBC” story.

“Sometimes wisecracks get lost in Twitter translation so appreciate the chance to clarify,” Harris wrote.

Fox News media reporter Brian Flood wrote that “When reached for comment, a Politico spokesperson directed Fox News to Harris’ follow up tweet to Schwartz before adding: ‘More specifically, his point was that there is currently no prospect of anyone taking over the Republican Party from its current leader – President Trump.’”

Writer’s note: As a Politico reporter, with Harris as my boss, I never experienced him showing bias against conservatives, and Harris’ co-founder, Jim VandeHei, is married to Autumn Hanna VandeHei, a former staffer for former House Republican Leader Tom DeLay. However, VandeHei left Politico to launch Axios in 2017, and when I was there, I definitely noticed that among my fellow more junior staff writers, the sentiment leaned left — no surprise, given this is part of the same macro trend we see in newsrooms nationwide. The question is whether Harris let the newsroom bubble influence his sensitivities on how his tweet would be perceived.

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