Politico Behind the Scenes

Howard Kurtz got a rare behind-the-scenes look at how Politico operates for Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” on CNN. Cameras were allowed into the conference room as Politico planned its health care coverage.

Those at the filmed meeting included: John Harris; Jim VandeHei wanted everything tightly focused on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.): “If we can really rope it around her and around the final 72 hours…” he said, noting that WaPo would be thinking much more broadly on coverage; Craig Gordon, the editor in charge of White House coverage, weighed in; Jonathan Martin suggested a story on “Dead Men Walking,” those lawmakers who would effectively be signing death papers by voting for the bill; Eamon Javers appeared to be amused by others remarks, but never spoke during the segment.

Something viewers may not know: Participants in the brainstorming meeting change from meeting to meeting. The meeting happens every few weeks and is a mix of top editors and selected reporters.

Something else viewers may not know: CNN chose not to show the other side of the table or any of the comments that came from that side of the room. Those journos included: Danielle Jones, Managing Editor, Online; Erika Compart, Deputy Managing Editor; Pia Catton, Features Editor; and Carol Lee, White House Correspondent.

“Some of those stories were very solid,” assessed Kurtz after the meeting. “But they also offered an embarrassment” this week. Kurtz explained that Politico posted a leaked memo on health care and didn’t say it came from Republican sources. They took it down. He scolded, “A better rule of thumb would have been to verify it first before publishing.”

An armchair suggestion: Story meeting participants may want to get all itches and scratches out before they go on film. While some slouched (perfectly fitting for such a meeting) some scratched too much as cameras rolled up close.

Next week: More Politico as Kurtz interviews VandeHarris.

Come to your own conclusions. Watch CNN’s video here. Please note, the picture (above) is a depiction and not the actual room where the Politico meeting transpired.

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