The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion RNC’s Sean Spicer blasts Politico at Politico event

Politico reporters Jake Sherman, left, and Anna Palmer in Washington. (M. Scott Mahaskey/Politico via Associated Press)

Come on Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer: Next time, you’ve got to at least try to stick up for your colleagues.

In a Politico happy-hour interview this afternoon, Politico Playbook’s duo interviewed Sean Spicer, chief strategist and communications director of the Republican National Committee. A strong critic of Politico’s coverage of Republicans, Spicer packed a list of articles that he claimed didn’t comply with the standards of journalism. “This is every story that Politico has done on the RNC and GOP this year,” he said, pulling out a bulging file case. Speaking of the decade-old website, Spicer said, “I do have a problem with how Politico has engaged in covering politics, especially on our side. I think it is tweet-happy, it is clickbait in many cases and it’s devoid of facts.”

Exhibit A in Spicer’s arsenal is a tweet promoting an article by Politico Magazine columnist Rich Lowry:

The notion that something “could” happen didn’t satisfy Spicer’s journalistic standards. “In theory, this building could float away and go to Mars. That’s not a serious thought about what’s going on in the election,” said Spicer.

Exhibit B has gotten plenty of coverage here and elsewhere. It’s the tweet by now-former Politico Magazine contract writer Julia Ioffe, who made the vile suggestion that Donald Trump could be having sex with his daughter Ivanka. Very shortly after the tweet took flight, Politico Editor Carrie Budoff Brown terminated Ioffe’s contract (which was winding down in any case; she was hired by the Atlantic early this month). “It was disgusting, reprehensible, unacceptable,” said Spicer.

Follow Erik Wemple's opinionsFollow

Not just that: There was no coverage in Politico — chronicler of all things in the political realm — of this tweet by its own contract reporter. “You have a media reporter,” said Spicer. “Use them.”

Referring again to his package, Spicer claimed that there wasn’t a single positive story about the RNC, despite its having put together “the best group operation in, I believe, in political history and everything becomes a story about how we came up wrong.”

Responded Sherman, “Fair enough.”

Exhibit C: A Politico report that Twitter was “bounced” from a Trump tech meeting. The gripe from Spicer: “There’s this story that a reporter from Politico put out saying that Sean Spicer disinvited Twitter from a tech meeting. Now first of all, I’d love to say that I have the power to disinvite someone from a meeting with the president-elect. But I don’t, and they were never invited, and I was never asked by Politico whether that happened. And yet I can’t put that story back in the bottle….Once it’s out there, it’s out there.”

Responded Sherman, “Understood.”