Accuracy in Media

Former Politico reporter Joe Williams, whose comments last month on Mitt Romney feeling comfortable with “white folks” got him suspended and eventually dismissed from the website’s staff, appeared Sunday on CNN’s Reliable Sources. He told host Howard Kurtz that his comments were not biased and that the right-wing noise machine took them out of context.

Kurtz played the clip from the Martin Bashir program and asked Williams how his comments were not biased. Williams had said that Romney was “very, very comfortable, it seems, with people who are like him,” and is stiff in town hall settings. He said that when Romney goes on Fox and Friends, “they’re like him. They’re white folks who are very much relaxed in their own company.”

Williams responded that it wasn’t biased because it had been proven and was obvious to everyone, and that people he has talked to didn’t understand why he was suspended by Politico.

Kurtz then asked Williams if that was a dumb thing for him to say, to which Williams replied that it wasn’t revelatory, but that it was inartfully said.

When Kurtz asked if Williams felt he received a bum rap, Williams said that wasn’t the case but that his comments were taken out of context.

I’m saying that it was a ‘context’ thing. I’m saying that there were a couple things that happened. The first was, a lot of what I had said earlier had drawn some attention of some conservative websites. I said a week earlier on a cable news show that the conservative press and conservative communications are very, very much good at pushing back and pushing back hard against reporters they feel are biased. Now that statement, in alone and of itself, was not necessarily that controversial. You couple that with saying I believe Mitt Romney is more comfortable around other white people who are like him. And that was an impetus for them to push back hard at me and that’s what made POLITICO uncomfortable.

Williams also denied to Kurtz that he was a liberal even though he admitted as much a couple of weeks ago when he appeared on the Bill Press Show.

I wouldn’t say liberal. I would say that if you look at my record as a whole, I’ve worked for a conservative publication, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, I’ve worked for publications that are at the center, which is I guess you would consider the Miami Herald or perhaps the Boston Globe.

While Williams may have admitted that he was largely to blame for his downfall, the fact remains that he still accuses The Daily Caller and Breitbart.com of taking what he said out of context, even though to most people it was very clear what he said and what he meant. No amount of walking it back was going to change things.

As for his claim of not being liberal, he loses any credibility he has left when he refers to the Miami Herald and Boston Globe as being in the center. Plus, he worked for Politico, whose writers appear almost exclusively on MSNBC, which serves as the main cable outlet for liberal journalists.

Maybe he can apply for a job at Media Matters.





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