There is still a point at which the partisan hackery of some journalists is embarrassing to people in their own industry. A few Politico correspondent reached that point yesterday after the NY Times published a letter to the editor from Martin Tolchin, a man identified on the NY Times’ op-ed page as “a founder of Politico.”
Yesterday, Ed wrote about the amazing op-ed Tolchin penned. It argued that any investigation of Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations was too risky because it could reveal “damaging information” that would get in the way of Biden’s “coronation” as president. In short, I don’t care about the truth, only about the outcome of the election. As some observers said, Tolchin was saying the quiet part out loud.
Politico staff and others quickly disputed that Tolchin was a “founder of Politico.”
Marty Tolchin is not the Founder of POLITICO, and it's false to describe him that way. He WAS a co-founder of "The Hill" and a consultant who helped in the founding of the "Capitol Leader." He was not a part of active management when POLITICO launched. https://t.co/N7RJ0thv9B
— Brad Dayspring (@BDayspring) May 5, 2020
Some were quick to call out right-leaning sites over what they claimed was an error.
I was there when POLITICO launched. Marty Tolchin was never a founder. Nor does he represent the publication in any way, shape or form more than 13 years later. https://t.co/eUT7HGbiLC
— Carrie Budoff Brown (@cbudoffbrown) May 5, 2020
Enter Tim Alberta, a Politico correspondent who was clearly furious that outlets on the right were referring to Tolchin as “a founder” without confirming this claim.
Love to see the Daily Callers, Federalists, and Benny Johnsons of the world seize upon Tolchin's asinine commentary to make a point about journalistic ethics…. without so much as making a call to confirm that he is, in fact, the "founder" of Politico. (He is not.) https://t.co/Mpg1adKLMa
— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) May 5, 2020
But wait a minute, didn’t all these sites get the reference to Tolchin as “founder” directly from the NY Times? Mollie Hemingway pointed out that none of the people disputing the claim seemed upset with the Times, only with the sites that quoted them. Also, a bio page for Tolchin on Politico’s site said “he is helping launch Politico.”
Rolling all the eyes right now. Sounds like you're angry with the NYT for publishing his letter that identifies himself as a founder. Also, you might want to memory hole this Politico link that says he helped launch Politico before you lash out like this. https://t.co/De1rQXHjeV
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) May 6, 2020
According to Tim Alberta’s that’s completely different. CNN’s Brian Stelter jumped in to back him up.
wait, you're saying that words like "founder" have meanings? whoa.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) May 6, 2020
Brian Riedl at the Manhattan Institute was one of several people who pointed out that attacking right-leaning sites for repeating what the NY Times printed is some “next level partisan hackery.”
Tim Alberta clarified that he was upset with the NY Times and Tolchin. But most of his fury seemed to be reserved for “bad-faith actors on the right” who made the mistake of believing the NY Times and Tolchin.
My beef *is* with the NYT for not vetting the guy. And with the guy himself for giving us a bad name.
My beef is also with bad-faith actors on the right who somehow think they're combatting media bias by trafficking in deceptive headlines and faulty information.
Got it? Gnight. pic.twitter.com/gKiKir0Fjj
— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) May 6, 2020
Sean Davis from the Federalist, one of the outlets Tim Alberta singled out for quoting the NY Times, pointed to a Washington Post piece from 2016 which also described Tolchin as a “founder” of Politico. Apparently this particular error has been around for quite a while, so why is that the right’s fault again?
If numerous mainstream outlets in addition to the Times have described Tolchin as a founder of Politico going back years (and they have), @brianstelter, it seems bizarre to attack *conservatives* for following their lead and describing him as such. https://t.co/164o82xWTj
— Sohrab Ahmari (@SohrabAhmari) May 6, 2020
In fact, it’s even worse than that. The Washington Post piece which identified Tolchin as a founder was quoted by Politico at the time.
Here is a link to the Politico Playbook in 2016 approvingly quoting a Washington Post article referring to Martin Tolchin as "a founder of the political news website Politico." Beam in your eye, splinter from your brother's, etc. etc. etc.https://t.co/NeF0YFjHZE https://t.co/zYGT3tBLDZ
— JERRY DUNLEAVY (@JerryDunleavy) May 6, 2020
Here’s the page. Why didn’t Politico correct this error four years ago when they were clearly aware of it? I also came across this page for a book Tolchin wrote with his wife. If you scroll down there’s an “About the Author” section which reads, “He also was the founding senior publisher and editor of ‘Politico’.”
For the record, it wasn’t just right-wing sites that quoted the NY Times on that point. People on the left were doing it too:
"I don’t want an investigation. I want a coronation of Joe Biden"–
Martin Tolchin, former NYT Washington Bureau journalist & founder of Politico, objecting to a NYT editorial calling for an investigation to determine if Biden raped Tara Reade. He added:https://t.co/qkM6NkV7gr pic.twitter.com/5mYbxCdwjN
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) May 5, 2020
But somehow it was only the right that the Politico’s defenders were angry with. As of this moment, the Times op-ed page hasn’t been updated and still describes Tolchin as a “founder” of Politico. I’m sure their failure to correct it is also conservatives’ fault.
To wrap this up, I’d like to point out that Tolchin’s letter wasn’t the only one printed by the Times Monday which suggested Reade’s allegations shouldn’t matter even if they are true. Karen Wilson from Dallas wrote:
I am a retired attorney and a survivor of multiple #MeToo experiences over my 66 years, including a violent rape. I loathe hypocrisy and try to avoid it and those who practice it…
We cannot survive as a democratic society with Mr. Trump in office for four more years. The need to get him out of office overrules every scruple we may have. I will live with my hypocrisy and believe that tens of millions of Americans will feel the same.
Maybe #LiveWithMyHypocrisy should replace #BelieveWomen as the new #MeToo slogan.