Politico White House Correspondent Joseph Williams spoke out on Current TV’s “Full Court Press” this morning for the first time since his publication suspended him for racial comments he made against presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
But he may not have done himself any favors.
First things first: Williams says he’s still employed with Politico but remains on suspension without pay. He has lawyered up, for what purpose he wouldn’t say. He said he knows his employers respect his work; he said both sides would like to negotiate an agreement to allow him to remain with Politico. He hopes this happens “sooner rather than later.”
Williams acknowledged to host Bill Press that he made “errors in judgment” but pointedly blamed right wing publications such as The Daily Caller and Breitbart.com for relentlessly reporting on Williams’ purported liberal bias. “Certainly they’re in the business of gathering scalps and we’ve seen it,” he said. He said the story quickly became “about him” rather than what he said. This made him uncomfortable.
In review, Williams appeared on MSNBC’s Martin Bashir show last week and said Romney feels more comfortable around white people, he insulted his own publication on Twitter, and wrote penis comments regarding Mitt and Ann Romney. “The words ‘white folks’ set people off like a match to a tinder keg,” Williams told Press.
When Press began to almost counsel Williams on the difference between being a commentator like himself and being a reporter, Williams remarked, “We are paid to observe, but we are not blind.” The host asked if Williams would apologize to Romney. He said if he did that, then “a lot of other people would have to as well.” Further, he said his thoughts on white people are nothing new and that he should not have to apologize: “I probably should have selected my words more carefully. In some people’s minds they were incendiary.”
Press, more than once, called Williams a “friend of the show” and said he hoped it would remain that way. Nonetheless, he wasn’t easy on Williams and asked him what he meant by tweeting that Politico was a “shitburger,” a news nugget first reported by The Daily Caller. Press did not say the word “shit” but it was implied. The reporter said the comment was meant to be private. He was “venting.” He said he fully expected more revelations of embarrassing tweets.
Williams appeared to choose his words carefully this morning, but maybe not carefully enough where Politico is concerned. Politico brass in particular rewards privacy and discretion. He had been previously warned to clean up his act. Williams declared that the Washington Press Corps. as a whole has a problem with minority hires and said Politico is no exception.
Sources tell FBDC that Williams seemed stressed but generally in good spirits on this morning’s live program. He wore bright red Chuck Taylors with a matching red handkerchief in the breast pocket of his dark suit. Noteworthy: He was booked through the phone and not through Politico. Politico was informed of the booking, but did not respond despite being told about his appearance.
Listen to the full interview here.