death merchants

Politico Writers Are Rich! TAX THEM!

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The New Republic‘s Gabriel Sherman has a lovely new story out about the dystopian hell chamber that is the Politico newsroom. The snarling, leprous leadership of Jim VandeHei and John Harris (a.k.a. “VandeHarris,” or simply, “AnusHair”) greets its intrepid blog reporters each morning at 5:30 a.m. with a hot shower of molten lava, followed by a threat to feed them to the rabid, one-eyed Beast of Ancient Times (held in an office storage pod in Manassas) if they do not get a Drudge link by 11 a.m. “SMITH, BEN SSSMITHHHH,” the death demon VandeHarris roars, spittle flying from its mouth, before slithering back to its dungeon for a breakfast of live rats, copper shavings, and ostrich blood. “YOU MUST WIN THE MORNING… A GUEST SLOT ON HARDBALL COMPELS YOU…”

Sherman notes that Politico‘s top writers — the brand names, such as Jonathan “Flowers” Martin and Roger “Dodger” Simon — are rumored to make between $150,000 and $250,000 in salary, which is just a ludicrous amount of money to be making with a “print-web hybrid” at a time when print and web news formats are working together to destroy the profit incentive of every form of news delivery.

Here’s what they’re paid so well to do:

Reporting, though, is only part of the equation: The motto around the Politico newsroom is to “win the morning, win the afternoon” — by which editors mean that Politico’s stories need to be the most talked-about and cited in that day’s news cycle. One measure of winning is getting stories linked on sites like Drudge Report and The Huffington Post, which leads to appearances on the cable shows. Politico employs three publicists who routinely send out links to bloggers and producers.

As New York Times executive editor Bill Keller points out later in the article, however, the drawback to this circus of meaningless scooplets is that no one can remember a single fucking thing Politico ever wrote. Then again, Politico may turn a profit in six months, at which time the NYT may not exist.

Ugh. And imagine having to work with Mike Allen everyday! His “Playbook” is like the 4chan of political reporting, written for an exhausted Washington press corps that — if it stopped working on the latest nonsense for a few hours — would come to realize how much it hates itself.

At the meeting, staffers received a memo written by Allen explaining Politico’s journalism philosophy. “We are not the AP or The New York Times. … If we ONLY do what those two great organizations do, WE WILL NOT SURVIVE AND WE WON’T HAVE JOBS,” the memo read, according to a copy provided to The New Republic. “THE REWARD for cracking this code,” the memo concluded, “is that you’re part of an enterprise … that is one of a tiny handful of news organizations in the WORLD that is actually GROWING.”


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About the author

Jim Newell is Wonkette's beloved Capitol Hill Typing Demon. He joined in 2007, left for some other dumb job in 2010, and proudly returned in 2012 as our "Senior Editor at Large." He lives in Washington and also writes for things such as The Guardian, the Manchester paper of liberals.

View all articles by Jim Newell


Hey there, Wonkeputians! Shypixel here to remind you to remember our Commenting Rules For Radicals, Enjoy!

  • Madeline

    Politico? Is that still around?

  • HipHopOpotamus


  • Yaybuls

    My head is spinning from reading this. Inside baseball much, Wonkette? This should’ve been an inter-office email, not a site update.

  • Whitey Did Katrina

    Keep trying to win the internet, Mike Allen–that’s what got Ron Paul where he is today!!

  • Whitey Did Katrina

    [re=245021]Yaybuls[/re]: Explore the idea that it is your head and not the writing.

  • middlegirl

    Politico, the TMZ of politics

  • freakishlystrong

    Thanks for not linking us there also.

  • Tommy Says Soooo

    Jonathan “Axelrod Mustache Saline Drip” Martin does know one thing…you can make the points by being rude to Hopey and trying to trip him up on the AFO Meet and Greet.

    Then Hopey becomes the flustered story.

    You see, Martin ain’t no Randi Rhodes Scholar but he ain’t dumb, you can do that to Democrats. Bush woulda cupped his balls in a death grip and smiled for the cameras, saying it was a way to say howdy in Texas.

    Hopey should just gone all ghetto on his ass as an example and he wouldn’t be bothered again. Politico would have a one day bonanze on Martin’s obit and then would have gone out of business.

  • Vulpes82

    Get out the unicorn horns! Surely Obama has a few extra laying around.

  • BillyClubb

    And every day I say the same thing: “win the morning, win the afternoon”. Then I take a nap, or watch pr0n, or whatever.

  • ManchuCandidate

    Hey, 4 Diamond Repube Whores at the Politico are paid what the market will bare.

    If Ken, Jim and Sara sold their souls to Satan, they’d make bank, too.

  • Sussemilch


  • Aurelio

    That picture reminds me of our wondeful economic system, which we are about to feed with our unborn fetuses’ future paychecks. More meat! More meat!

  • Aurelio

    “Flowers” Martin and Roger “Dodger” Simon — are rumored to make between $150,000 and $250,000 in salary.

    What a travesty of justice. Meanwhile our Wonkette editors must live on hobo beans and fried smegma. And the slave-girl interns get the leavings. Sigh.

  • Mr Blifil

    I had a mighty struggle with my lower intestines shortly after waking up but eventually, after a cup of coffee, I WON THE MORNING!!!

  • V572625694

    What’s best about “Politico” is the way it employs the cheap patriotism of red-white-and-blue in a way that’s even uglier than the Posts web site. Huffpo’s even uglier, though. Is this the Drudge Effect? His site’s beginning to look like a triumph of Tufte-inspired information design compared to these sheets.

  • pdiddycornchips


    Wingnut welfare. They will get their just desserts in the next life. Or not. Actually, I keep hoping they’ll find the budget to send Roger Simon to Kabul where he gets kidnapped, gang raped and then beheaded. I’m not bitter though.

  • WadISay

    Win the Morning? That’s my code for jerking off in the shower.

  • Ken Layne

    [re=245021]Yaybuls[/re]: Try this instead.

  • steve

    [re=245024]Whitey Did Katrina[/re]: Maybe it isn’t the writing or Yaybul’s head. Maybe it’s 4chan. Just mentioning them/it/whatever tends to give me a nose bleed.

  • Tread

    So Mike Allen is an intermittent shout troll? I hate those guys.

  • MARCdMan

    Shame on you Newell for hotlinking VandeHei’s profile photo direct from politico

  • S.Luggo

    — “There are no R.W. Apples anymore, and, if R.W. Apple wrote at Politico, all his stuff would be cut in half,” one Politico reporter told me in July. —

    Well, isn’t that just fucking gratifying.

    If R.W. wrote for Politco, he wouldn’t.

  • Mr Blifil

    [re=245042]Aurelio[/re]: On the other hand, the Friday Night Smegma Fry is a very convivial occasion, usually.

  • icedog

    Mike Allen actually watches Leno. I’m not kidding.

  • TGY

    “Now, get out there and fight! Not for me or the goddamned Lieutenant, but for Private Wokowski and his little dog!”

  • Red Zeppelin

    [re=245042]Aurelio[/re]: Fried smegma? What– the raw kind isn’t good enough for them?

  • Zadig

    Newell, the difference between Allen’s Playbook and 4chan is that, while both are teeming cesspits that assail the mind (and often defeat it), 4chan has bright bursts of being ludicrously entertaining and hilarious. Except for /b/, of course. Allen is just a heap of offal that desperately wishes that Ben Smith would give him his Shift and Capslock keys back so he can go back to writing memos.

  • heroinmule

    Interesting. I too have always imagined that Hardball would somehow be incorporated in hell.

  • Josh Fruhlinger

    Serious question: Do pundits, or their parent companies, get paid to appear on the terrible talking head TV shows? If not, how can a site with what appear to be two banner ads on a page pay its employees six-figure salaries and plan to be profitable in six months through a scheme involving getting linked to by Drudge and HuffPo?

  • Guppy06

    [re=245136]Josh Fruhlinger[/re]: Wasn’t that particular bubble supposed to have burst already?

  • Tony Wonder

    I’m convinced Politico is a pyramid scheme.

  • SayItWithWookies

    [re=245136]Josh Fruhlinger[/re]: I’m guessing Sung Myung Moon has something to do with it.

  • PeteJayhawk v2.0

    [re=245136]Josh Fruhlinger[/re]: Venture capital = profit!

  • BobLoblawLawBlog

    [re=245030]Vulpes82[/re]: Wow, and here I always thought I was the only person ever to see that movie (10 times).

  • Madeline

    [re=245136]Josh Fruhlinger[/re]:

    Step 1 = Write terrible boring articles, which get linked on Drudge and HuffPo
    Step 2 = ?
    Step 3 = Profit

    I think they’d be better off stealing underpants.

  • Suds McKenzie

    How sad is it when your main goal of the day is to get a Drudge Link.

  • Hart88

    PajamasMedia 2.0

    Hopefully it meets a similar fate.

  • ProfessorJukes

    [re=245021]Yaybuls[/re]: You are correct, sir.
    So, how much did Politico pay for their gratuitous post on Wonkette? Or was it just a favor to one of their publicists?
    Does the Wonkette staff drink with these ‘Politico’ people? They should stop, and drink like I do – straight out of the bottle in my little cheaply-furnished apartment, watching “Forensic Files” – and Rachel Maddow.

  • Blue Gal

    I laughed and laughed. Honestly, Jim Newell, I wuv you!

  • Jim Newell

    [re=245258]ProfessorJukes[/re]: The hell are you two babbling about? That I wrote a post about one of the more popular political publications in DC?

  • thefrontpage

    If a major tenet of journalism at this thing called “Politico” is seriously getting a mention on sites as vapid and ridiculous and unprofessional and unjournalistic as “Drudge” and “Huffington Post,” then the following is true, people, and it’s no joke and no snark:

    That is not journalism. That is not reporting. That is not a good goal to maintain. That is ridiculous. That is stupid. That is unprofessional. And that will spell the end–the literal end–of this thing called “Politico.”

    Repeat: This enterprise will not last.

    And if someone maintains as a journalism tenet “We are not The New York Times, and we are not The Associated Press,” then they will, again, fail. See above.

    Because the cold, hard reality is this:

    The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Associated Press remain, to this day, three of the best, overall, in any category, journalism entities in the world. Yes, the world. Every journalist who is a real journlist would want to be The New York Times and The Associated Press.

    Anyone who does not want to be the Times or the AP is not a real journalist. And that goes for any wayward ramblings coming from “Politico.”

    Now, if they talk about shoe-leather journalism, and actually researching, writing and editing real news stories that report the news of the day without any worry about horrible internset sites, then, and only then, can we talk about real journalism.

  • StoneAge

    [re=245347]thefrontpage[/re]: That was beautiful, man (or woman). You just forgot to add the part that sites like Politico are killing shoe-leather journalism and creating a national army of idiots with the attention span of a goldfish.

  • Fox News Light

    and they don’t hire black people…

    check it out, its true I tell ya!

  • Fruit Machine

    Roger “Dodger” Simon? I think Wonkette editors need rhyming nicknames.

  • PeteJayhawk v2.0

    [re=245021]Yaybuls[/re]: Wow, looks like you got shown the fuck up.

  • peorgietirebiter

    [re=245347]thefrontpage[/re]: “Repeat: This enterprise will not last.”
    Easy turbo. I remember saying something similar about CNN a few weeks before I bet someone my house, that ESPN wouldn’t last a second year. I’m not saying they should, I’m just saying…

  • Nedrick

    Simply beautiful. Terrifying, but beautiful.

  • Mr. Poe


  • OzoneTom

    Gotta love that Tim Curry picture.

    Hmmm, TIM Curry, TIMothy Geithner. Coincidence?