Politico top brass is not worried about NYT Mark Leibovich’s upcoming book about the incestuous culture of Washington. This helps explain why the publication’s “The Arena” section last night published an op-ed from fired House aide Kurt Bardella on damage control and Japan’s nuclear crisis. Bardella proudly posted the piece on his Facebook page.
Politico Editor in Chief John Harris has definitively concluded that there is nothing in the emails that Bardella allegedly leaked to Leibovich that could hurt Politico reporters if printed in the book. House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa fired the aide two weeks ago after Politico asked the chairman for an inquiry.
“There is nothing in the emails that leaves POLITICO in a compromised position….they show only the work of professional journalists doing their job,” Harris wrote in an email to FishbowlDC this morning. “So I do not think Bardella writing as an Arena participant is illustrative of any larger point.” Has Harris been privy to email exchanges between his reporters and Bardella? “I haven’t seen any of them,” he replied. “I speak with confidence on the matter because I know the reporters at Politico who were corresponding with Bardella, and know their professionalism.” A bold statement from someone who hasn’t seen the email exchanges.
But now Harris must do his own damage control, as he explains how an aide they recently accused of compromising the publication’s reporters, which ultimately led to his firing, is now fit to appear in their pages. Odd bedfellows? Indeed. But Harris’s explanation is simple: Bardella asked. Specifically, Bardella asked David Mark, who runs the Arena section whether he could be a contributor. “That was okay with me, since Arena includes about 300 politicians, academics and operatives of all stripes in a rolling debate about issues of the day,” wrote Harris, just two weeks after writing Issa and asking for an inquiry on the aide for sneaking emails to Leibovich. “I did object vigorously to the practice of a congressional office forwarding POLITICO emails to another journalist without our knowledge. But I certainly do not hold any personal animus toward Bardella—I don’t know him—nor do I think he is somehow branded with some permanent stigma by POLITICO because of that episode.”
To be clear, said Harris, “I object to our emails being surreptitiously shared with competitors on principle—that’s the context in which I used the term “compromised.”
Bardella, still playing the part of helpful aide, sent FishbowlDC a written description of “The Arena” as it appears on the Politico website. He did not, however, wish to comment for this story.
See the descprition in full…
From Politico‘s Arena:
“The Arena is a cross-party, cross-discipline forum for intelligent and lively conversation about political and policy issues. Contributors have been selected by POLITICO staff and editors. David Mark, Arena’s moderator, is a Senior Editor at POLITICO. Each morning, POLITICO sends a question based on that day’s news to all contributors.”