On this date in 2007, a news outlet launched that would upend how the media covered American politics. It was called The POLITICO (the “The” was quickly dropped).
Almost immediately, Washington changed. There’s a vivid oral history of that moment in time over at POLITICO Magazine. A snapshot from its intro:
“With its relentless pace and radically different standard for what constituted news, POLITICO at turns confused, thrilled and maddened its audience in the nation’s capital. It was both serious and mischievous, high and low, in print and on the web, substantive and fun, with a twist of tabloid. It was fast and aggressive. It frustrated press secretaries and offended the at-times tender sensibilities of the 200-year-old institution that is Congress, demystifying the protocols and personalities that made Capitol Hill run. While it turned deadlines upside down — days and hours transformed into minutes and seconds — it also satisfied a ‘thirstiness’ for community among Washington professionals wanting to see and be ‘seen’ in Playbook. It was ambitious — and it ran its own reporters absolutely ragged.”
There was a reason for that, as co-founder John F. Harris explains in his look at how the media has changed these last 15 years: “At the outset, we had no illusion that we could compete on even terms with our old colleagues at legacy publications. What we sought instead was the journalistic equivalent of asymmetric warfare — guerillas taking on larger forces by darting quickly and opportunistically into stories where we might have a chance to win.”
But was the old order really all that bad? And where does political media go from here? John recently brought together a roundtable of current and former POLITICOs — NYT’s MAGGIE HABERMAN, BEN SMITH, WaPo’s SEUNG MIN KIM, MATT WUERKER and Playbook’s own EUGENE DANIELS — to talk it through. Their conversation published this morning, and is worth a read.
We’ll leave you with two especially fun nuggets:
— How different were things in 2007? Check out the first edition of Playbook, which debuted in June 2007. Its opening paragraph boasts of offering “a handy, BlackBerry and Treo-friendly peek at the news driving each day.”
— Matt Wuerker walks us through his 15 favorite editorial cartoons over the last 15 years. Here’s one of our favorites, from 2010, but still relevant today:
TOP SUNDAY READS
1. How the Jan. 6 insurrection “mutated into an emblem of resistance” on the right. Most Jan. 6 post-mortems have focused “on the violent core of the mob,” write NYT’s Elizabeth Dias and Jack Healy. “But a larger group has received far less attention: the thousands who … did not set foot in the Capitol and have not been charged with any crime — who simply went home. For these DONALD TRUMP supporters, the next chapter of Jan. 6 is not the ashes of a disgraced insurrection, but an amorphous new movement fueled by grievances against vaccines and President [JOE] BIDEN, and a deepened devotion to his predecessor’s lies about a stolen election.”
— Take note, Mar-a-Lago: “Many Jan. 6 attendees have shifted their focus to what they see as a new, urgent threat: Covid-19 vaccine mandates and what they call efforts by Democratic politicians to control their bodies. … Some bridled at Trump’s recent, full-throated endorsements of the vaccine and wondered whether he was still on their side. ‘A lot of people in the MAGA Patriot community are like, “What is up with Trump?”’ Mr. Davis, [a Texas lawyer who attended the pro-Trump demonstration on Jan. 6], said. ‘With most of us, the vaccines are anathema.’”
2. There are two big “state party vs. one of their own” stories this morning:
On the left: The Arizona Democratic Party executive committee censured Sen. KYRSTEN SINEMA on Saturday over her opposition to changing filibuster rules to pass voting rights bills. “The closed-door vote Saturday morning came after an avalanche of anger from liberals,” Arizona Republic’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez writes. “The censure has no practical effect but does deliver a strong message of condemnation and reflects the will of the party’s most active and loyal members.”
— Sinema’s office responds: “During three terms in the U.S. House, and now in the Senate, Kyrsten has always promised Arizonans she would be an independent voice for the state — not for either political party. … She’s delivered for Arizonans and has always been honest about where she stands.”
On the right: In a straw poll held by the Wyoming Republican State Central committee on Saturday, HARRIET HAGEMAN, the Trump-endorsed challenger to Rep. LIZ CHENEY (R-Wyo.), won big. Casper Star-Tribune’s Victoria Eavis reports that “the secret ballot of party activists awarded Hageman 59 votes, Cheney six, state Sen. ANTHONY BOUCHARD, R-Cheyenne, two and DENTON KNAPP one. The vote comes eight months before the GOP primary.”
— Cheney’s camp responds: “The only elections that matter are in August and November.” (Similarly, Hageman said that “there will be lots of polls over the next eight months, and they will all show different things,” and the Star-Tribune notes that “straw polls, even with a far higher number of voters, do not have an accurate track record in Wyoming in recent years.”)
SUNDAY BEST …
Sen. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vt.) on the Arizona Democrats’ censure of Sinema, on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “[Sinema’s support of the filibuster] was a terrible, terrible vote. And I think what the Arizona Democratic Party did was exactly right.”
Rep. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-Mich.) on whether she questions the motives of Sinema and Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.), on “Meet the Press”: “No, I don’t. I think — someone once told me when I started in Congress, you know, you can question someone’s policy choices, don’t question their motives. Because we’re all here, I hope, to do the right thing. Or we should be.”
Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN on negotiations with Russia over the situation on the Ukrainian border, on “Meet the Press”: “It is certainly possible that the diplomacy the Russians are engaged in is simply going through the motions and it won’t affect their ultimate decision about whether to invade or in some other way intervene — or not — in Ukraine. But, we have a responsibility to see the diplomacy through for as far and as long as we can go, because it’s the more responsible way to bring this to a closure.”
— Blinken on CNN’s “State of the Union”: “If a single additional Russian force goes into Ukraine in an aggressive way, as I said, that would trigger a swift, a severe and a united response from us and from Europe. And, again, there are other things that Russia could do that fall short of actually sending additional forces into Ukraine. And, again, across the board, we’re prepared with Europe for a swift and calibrated and very united response.” More from Nick Niedzwiadek
Sen. JONI ERNST (R-Iowa) on how the Biden administration should be responding to Russia, on ABC’s “This Week”: “Let’s make sure that we are pushing back right now with stiff sanctions, making sure that we are showing [Russian President VLADIMIR] PUTIN we do mean business, but also making those preparations to pull out Americans that are in the most vulnerable area of Ukraine.”
— On why the Ukraine-Russia situation is important to the U.S.: “When democracy is stable, that means our troops, our citizens are much more safe. So, this is a concern to our constituents. We need to make sure that democracy is prevailing around the globe and that socialism, communism, and the old Soviet Union is not regaining territory.”
BIDEN’S SUNDAY — The president has nothing on his public schedule.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
UKRAINE-RUSSIA LATEST — The United Kingdom says it “has exposed a plot by Russia to install a friendly government in Ukraine, supporting an earlier U.S. assessment suggesting that the Kremlin is laying plans to oust its neighbor’s leadership,” WSJ’s James Marson reports. “The allegations, announced Saturday by the British Foreign Office, come in the midst of warnings that Russia could invade Ukraine with the around 100,000 troops it has gathered near the border. Neither the U.K. nor the U.S. revealed exactly how it believed Moscow was intending to bring its alleged agents to power.”
— FWIW, the AP reports that Russia’s foreign ministry has denied these claims.
— The State Department has “ordered families of U.S. Embassy personnel in Ukraine to begin evacuating the country as soon as Monday,” Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson reports. “Next week, the State Department is also expected to encourage Americans to begin leaving Ukraine by commercial flights, ‘while those are still available,’ one official said.”
ON THE GROUND IN AFGHANISTAN — WSJ’s Sune Engel Rasmussen has a striking visual story: “A Journey Along Afghanistan’s Main Highway Leads Through a Country in Translation”: “While the Taliban limit personal freedoms and persecute critics, the end of fighting has also brought relief to many Afghans.”
A new NBC News poll has some harsh findings for the Biden administration to grapple with:
- Wrong track: 72% of Americans “say the country is headed in the wrong direction.”
- Inflation: 61% say “their family’s income is falling behind the cost of living.”
- Polarization: 70% “agree with the statement that America has become so polarized that it can no longer solve the major issues facing the country — and that those differences will only continue to grow.”
- Democracy at risk: “A whopping 76 percent of Americans — including 7 in 10 Democrats, Republicans and independents — believe there is a threat to democracy and majority rule in this country.” More from NBC’s Mark Murray
ON WISCONSIN — WSJ’s John McCormick has the state of play on Dems’ prospects for taking on Wisconsin GOP Sen. RON JOHNSON. “The current top tier of Democrats campaigning for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin includes a lieutenant governor, a state treasurer, a county executive and a former Goldman Sachs analyst who is a billionaire’s son. None could be described as centrists. In a state decided by less than 1 percentage point in the 2020 presidential election — the third-narrowest outcome nationally — six Democrats who have raised the most money so far are all taking positions to the left of President Biden’s.”
BLAME GAME — As inflation continues to spike at historic levels, many are left wondering what’s to blame: the pandemic or policy? “It is the case that supply disruptions are leading to higher inflation in many places, including in large developing economies like India and Brazil and in developed ones like the euro area. … But some economists point out that even as inflation proves pervasive around the globe, it has been more pronounced in America than elsewhere,” NYT’s Jeanna Smialek and Ana Swanson write.
OMICRON ON THE RUN — Despite a recent surge, Omicron cases appear to be leveling off nationally, NYT’s Mitch Smith, Julie Bosman and Tracey Tully write. “More and more states have passed a peak in new cases in recent days, as glimmers of progress have spread from a handful of eastern cities to much of the country.” And yet: “The United States continues to identify far more infections a day than in any prior surge, and some states in the West, South and Great Plains are still seeing sharp increases. Many hospitals are full. And deaths continue to mount, with more than 2,100 announced most days.”
— While Covid pills were tabbed as “game-changers” in the fight against the virus, Lauren Gardner reports that “a flurry of regulatory, testing and logistical issues is complicating the rollout, potentially requiring people with symptoms to make multiple stops at doctors’ offices or testing sites within the five-day window when the drugs are recommended.”
HELPFUL VISUAL — “Charting an Omicron Infection,” by NYT’s Emily Anthes and Jonathan Corum
JAN. 6 AND ITS AFTERMATH
CAUGHT ON TAPE — CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck uncover “previously unreported videos from the social media platform Periscope” on which ALI ALEXANDER, a key organizer of the Jan 6 rally (and central figure in the House Jan. 6 committee’s investigation), “said he would reach out to the right-wing Proud Boys and Oath Keepers on providing security for the event.”
Bengals fans, including Jen Psaki and Kevin Madden, were stressed out during the fourth quarter of yesterday’s game. But it worked out well in the end: Cincy beat the Tennessee Titans, 19-16, kicking a field goal as time expired.
Eric Swalwell rejoiced in the 49ers’ last-second upset of the Green Bay Packers (at Lambeau, in the snow).
SPOTTED: Sarah Palin having dinner at Elio’s on Manhattan’s Upper East Side (via Shawn McCreesh).
SPOTTED at a semi-retirement surprise party for Carla Marinucci, the original California Playbook author, on Saturday night at CaliCraft beer garden in Walnut Creek, Calif.: Willie Brown,Steve Glazer, Buffy Wicks,Kevin Yamamura, Katy Murphy, Jeremy White, David Siders, Debra Kahn, Victoria Colliver, Angela Greiling Keane, Mackenzie Mays, H.D. Palmer, Amy Palmer, Brian Brokaw, Debbie Mesloh, Elex Michaelson, Peter Ambler, Scott Shafer, Marisa Lagos, Doug Sovern, Sara Sidner, Phil Matier, Amelia Matier and Amber Lee.
TRANSITIONS — Nathan Williams is now counsel to ranking member Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) on the Senate Judiciary Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Rights Subcommittee. He previously was investigations counsel on the Senate Commerce Committee. … Andrew Nicholson is now an associate director of government relations at Imperium Global Advisors. He previously was a legislative assistant for Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.).
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: POLITICO (15) … Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) … Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.) … Norah O’Donnell … POLITICO’s Alex Ward, Annie Snider,Joe Anuta and Jordan Bowen … Scott Mahaskey … Rolling Stone’s Patrick Reis … Annie Shuppy … Brian Cooke of the Institute of International Education … Bryn Woollacott of Systems Planning and Analysis … DHS’ Isabella Ulloa … Eric Koch of Downfield Strategies (38) … Mike Gallagher of Intrepidity … Erika Gudmundson of Good Comms … Matt Simeon of Locust Street Group … Missy Foxman of the Entertainment Software Association … CNN’s Aaron Pellish … Erik Olson … Laura Keiter of Media Matters for America … Edelman’s Daniel Workman … HHS’ Loyce Pace … Tom Daffron … Harvard Institute of Politics’ Amy Howell … Scott Pace … Instagram’s Adam Mosseri … Antonio Villaraigosa … former Reps. Bud Shuster (R-Pa.) (9-0), Joe Baca (D-Calif.) and Marty Russo (D-Ill.) … Mark Boal … Secure Democracy’s Jay Riestenberg … Suzanne Kennedy
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