Mike Allen Responds to Chelsea Clinton Interview Request Flap

"MY BAD!"

Photo Credit: Reuben Ingber

Photo Credit: Reuben Ingber
Photo Credit: Reuben Ingber
“MY BAD!” begins an entry halfway down the page in this morning’s Politico Playbook. It is the opening to a two-paragraph apology by Playbook author and Politico chief White House correspondent Mike Allen in response to a story Gawker’s J.K. Trotter broke last week.

The incident involves what Allen refers to as “clumsy” wording in a 2013 email to Philippe Reines, then deputy assistant secretary of state under Hillary Clinton. In the email, Allen requests an interview with Chelsea Clinton, to take place during a Politico event, promising that he would ask only predetermined questions. “I would work with you on topics, and would start with anything she wants to cover or make news on,” he wrote to Reines.

Allen is emphasizing the “clumsiness” of the ask because, as he explains this morning, he would never actually have done what he promises to do in the email. “We didn’t do the interview with Chelsea Clinton, and would never clear our questions,” he writes. “But the email makes me cringe, because I should never have suggested we would. We retain full, unambiguous editorial control over our events and questioning.”

It was an echo of the statement Politico editor Susan Glasser provided to Trotter shortly after his piece went up, writing that, “We didn’t end up doing any interview with Chelsea Clinton and we have a clear editorial policy of not providing questions to our guests in advance.”

Full text of Allen’s note below:

“MY BAD! You may have missed a Gawker post last week that rightly took me to task for something clumsy I wrote in an email to Philippe Reines in 2013, seeking an interview with Chelsea Clinton at a POLITICO brunch. In the email, I said I’d agree to the questions in advance. I have never done that, and would never do that. POLITICO has a policy against it, and it would make for a boring event. As you know from attending our events (or can tell by clicking on any of the videos on our website), they’re spontaneous, conversational and news-driven. Without stunts or grandstanding, we challenge guests to address newsworthy topics, and to be original, relevant and revelatory. A scripted back-and-forth would be a snore.

We didn’t do the interview with Chelsea Clinton, and would never clear our questions. But the email makes me cringe, because I should never have suggested we would. We retain full, unambiguous editorial control over our events and questioning. My bond with readers and newsmakers is built on knowing I don’t pull punches. So I wanted to share my take on this, and make sure our policy is clear. Read the Gawker item here.