Search Results For: mike allen

Mike Allen Or Rick Sanchez?

Jan 6 2010 @ 2:27pm

A reader writes:

Let's get down to the bottom of it…if a fatuous quasi journalist like Rick Sanchez on CNN can nail Ensign, than Politico should do enough homework to push back on Cheney.  Is it possible that the so-called "journalists" at Politico could learn a thing or two from Rick Sanchez?

I think this misunderstands how Allen views journalism. His role, he seems to believe, is to become very very close to people with power, to become their friends and confidants, in order to get an advantage over delivering the messages those people want to deliver. And if he can become their main outlet, he gets more status in Washington as someone more connected than anyone else, he garners more pageviews for press releases from often anonymous power-brokers, and thereby generates more money for an organization he helped found.

This is what Washington journalists think is their job; and they value one another by the proximity of their ties to the powerful. In a business sense, they can also brag about their close ties to Cheney as a way to get major corporations to buy ads under the impression that the powerful read the Politico. This is the model. And it's a problem.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with the notion that journalists are really accountable to their readers, that the powerful should be afraid of them rather than their best buddies, and that the goal is to challenge government, not act as its informational tool. Politico is to the US government what Blackwater was for the US military. It acts as an ancillary privatized forum for the powerful to express themselves outside of the box of, say, releasing statements to the press in general.

This is why the MSM was much more interested in getting an interview with Palin rather than forcing her to hold a real press conference. The MSM works for itself and its advertizers in a bid to become closer and closer to power. Few places prove this more potently than Politico.

Mike Allen Pivots Back

Jan 2 2010 @ 1:00pm

Aware, perhaps, that his role as Cheney spokesman last week damaged his cred, the Politico scribe (who also, it must be said, has some great reporting behind and ahead of him) pushes back against Hosenball's "scoop" of a terror-threat briefing on December 22:

Did the President have a briefing on December 22 on holiday threats? You bet he did. He demanded it. The holidays are traditionally a time of increased threat reporting and the President wanted to be sure his team was on top of that reporting — doing the fine work it had done, for example, on the Zazi and Headley cases earlier in the year. In fact, the President demands regular counterterrorism and homeland security briefings that bring together the whole team representing the heads of the government agencies charged with intell and homeland security. Did the December 22 briefing include a warning of an attack? No. It did not. And despite the provocative headline on his story, the Newsweek reporter does not report that there was one. Because he couldn't. Because there wasn't.

Erik Wemple has another blockbuster piece on the corporate public relations newsletter known as Mike Allen’s Playbook at Politico. This time, it’s about the constant, fawning press releases Allen writes for his favorite news channel and personal idol, Roger Ailes. The latest piece of puffery from Allen is a summary of the new Gabe Sherman book on the Republican operative running the Republican Party’s propaganda outlet. For some reason, almost none of the critical details about Ailes made it into Allen’s account, merely anything that Ailes himself would be happy with:

He chose far more flattering stuff, like the part about Ailes being “The Most Powerful Man in the World,” about Ailes’s rough childhood, about Ailes winning over Rupert Murdoch, about Ailes winning over employees, about Ailes’s marketing genius, about Politico scoring a presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan library, to Ailes’s dismay. Save for a nod to Fox News’s alleged deception over an infamous anti-Obama video from May 2012, Allen all but “Zevved up” the Sherman book. That is, he made it sound a lot like the very favorable Ailes biography that author Zev Chafets last year published with the network boss’s full cooperation.

To take a fair but highly critical book and make it seem like a hagiography is Allen’s mojo when it comes to Politico’s advertizing clients (including those whose sponsored content appears within Allen’s daily suck-up to power and money in Washington). But the Ailes-worship is close to pathological. Just read it all yourself and make up your own mind. But, to my mind, Wemple proceeds to cite case after case after case of fellatial coverage of Fox and Ailes from the perkiest team-player in the Washington Media-Corporate Village. Now, you might think that this is too easy. Selective pickings from Allen’s daily, lucrative plugs for the rich and powerful could find anything. But what makes Wemple’s pieces persuasive is that he also includes any examples he can also find of faintly-critical coverage. They’re there, but in such minuscule proportion to the relentless positive p.r. for Fox that they almost seem designed to bolster its credibility. And that’s why Allen’s disgracefully tardy response to this is so lame:

Read On

Politico’s Defense Of Mike Allen

Dec 31 2013 @ 2:03pm

Here it is:

The idea — and it really wasn’t an argument what I read; it was more of a suggestion, insinuation, innuendo in a really unfair way — that the product is somehow compromised by advertisers was (a) not supported and (b) horribly, horribly unfair to what really is one of the most transparent journalistic products in the city. Anyone can read it any given day and sort of take their best guess as to why this is in there, why it’s not, who Mike had lunch with, who was giving him this, who he had dinner with, who was feeding him that. Totally transparent.

I can’t beat Chait’s elegant dissection of this claptrap, so read it.

Mike Allen, Busted, Ctd

Dec 4 2013 @ 12:31pm

Politico is still acting like a politician riding out a scandal by refusing to engage it, rather than a newspaper dedicated to transparency. Allen’s fusion of advertizing clients and personal relationships and puff pieces – a veritable nest of conflicts of interest – is apparently beyond reproach because, well, er … just because. Jim Vandehei’s latest reluctant defense of Allen is elegantly summed up by Chait: “a comical stream of evasive tripe.” It is indeed.

Mike Allen, Busted, Ctd

Nov 22 2013 @ 11:23am

Pareene tackles the purveyor of Playbook:

Allen considers press releases from organizations he covers to be plainly newsworthy in their own right and therefore worthy of passing on to his readers because he’s engaged in trade journalism — reporting on a sector for that sector, not for a general audience. You wouldn’t expect Ad Age to suddenly become adversarial toward the advertising industry, would you?

Read On

Mike Allen, Busted, Ctd

Nov 21 2013 @ 1:40pm

Chait reflects on the new Mike Allen take-down:

Playbook goes beyond the routine and wildly promiscuous use of native advertising. Indeed, the behavior Wemple documents would ordinarily amount to a scandal and a likely firing offense, except that it seems to be Allen’s essential job description. As Wemple points out, some of the advertisers are also Allen’s friends. And, of course, his sources also consist significantly of his friends.

The intermingling of media, business, and elected officials that is on gross display once a year during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and which Politico both covers and participates in with peerless enthusiasm, is Allen’s vision of how journalism is supposed to function normally. Sources, friends, and sponsors all blur into one mutually protective circle. Last year, Allen gave breathless, PR-esque coverage to Fix the Debt, the pillar of respectable establishmentarian lobbying, and then, within days, announced that the group was sponsoring Playbook. …

The Mike Allen scandal is not that advertisers purchased favorable coverage in Playbook. The scandal is that, at this point, such corruption is unnecessary.

Drum sees the story as the “latest example of the press going into full stonewall mode whenever they’re the ones a story is about”:

Of course [Editor-in-Chief John] Harris refused to say anything. It’s standard journalistic practice. It’s only other people who have to answer questions. It’s outrageous to expect news organizations themselves to do the same.

If the corruption is no longer a scandal, then surely a paper’s refusal to answer serious questions about its ethics is. By what right does Politico demand accountability from those in power, while refusing to engage in even a modicum of accountability itself? The lack of response must lead any objective person to believe the worst: that Playbook is neither ethical nor journalism. More from the Columbia Journalism Review:

Allen is DC’s access journalist par excellence, which is saying something in that town. Most beat journalists toss off the occasional beat sweetener/source greaser to gain access to a newsmaker and soft-pedal negative news to maintain that access. Access is a kind of currency: Get it and you can break news and rub elbows with important people. Allen makes this ugly sausage-making process more corrupt by mixing access currency with actual currency. Buy native ads in Playbook, get embarrassingly favorable news coverage in Playbook.

It stinks to high heaven.

Mike Allen, Busted

Nov 20 2013 @ 6:40pm


Dish readers know what I think of “native advertizing” and “sponsored content.” If it’s an advertorial, just call it and clearly label it an advertorial! Full disclosure and transparency are essential. The rest is whoredom, not journalism. When a journalist becomes a copy-writer for big advertisers giving him or his publication money, and does not clearly disclose the conflict of interest, he or she has ceased to be an independent journalist and joined the lucrative profession of public relations.

Read Erik Wemple’s evisceration of Mike Allen’s Playbook and make up your own mind. But to my eyes, it reads like a meticulously researched tale of at least the appearance of blatant corruption. Wemple starts with the kind of test I used for Buzzfeed’s corporate whoredom. Guess which one of these two items Mike Allen wrote and which one was written by the US Chamber of Commerce?

3) The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has an ambitious new agenda to generate stronger, more robust economic growth, create jobs, and expand opportunity for all Americans. Learn more about the Chamber’s American Jobs and Growth Agenda at **

4) “U.S. Chamber of Commerce will launch ‘On the Road With Free Enterprise,’ a two-month cross-country road trip to promote ‘the principles of free enterprise and the best of America. Your Free Enterprise Tour Guides will see the sights, check out local events, talk to businesses, and share it [online]. More than 900 teams applied to be the Free Enterprise Tour Guides, and after months of poring over applications, two teams remain: Jen and John, and Nate and Joe. You can vote [here] once per day.’”

Allen wrote the first second press release; the US Chamber of Commerce the second first. [Correction here] But the Wemple examination impresses because of its thoroughness. After a while, the examples are so egregious and numerous they beggar belief. Wemple and the Post unleashed an army of bots onto the Playbook archive and came to the following inescapable conclusion:

It’s about time that Politico’s Allen got his due as a native-advertising pioneer. A review of “Playbook” archives shows that the special interests that pay for slots in the newsletter get adoring coverage elsewhere in the playing field of “Playbook.” The pattern is a bit difficult to suss out if you glance at “Playbook” each day for a shot of news and gossip. When searching for references to advertisers in “Playbook,” however, it is unmistakable.

The most egregious examples are the US Chamber of Commerce, BP, and – yes – Goldman Sachs:

Read On

Calling Mike Allen

Feb 19 2012 @ 8:52pm

Did Dick Cheney do his first ever lobbying for marriage equality, as some reports are saying? Allen has, in the past, simply reprinted Cheney's press releases as journalism. Why not this one? Or is Dick on the pro-gay downlow?

Philip Rucker takes the temperature of Republican strategists:

[They] are already praising the video. For a political figure used to an off-the-cuff style, Palin's video has a professional and polished feel that could strengthen and broaden her emotional appeal among female voters. One prominent GOP media consultant described the video as "brilliant," adding: "I wish I'd done it."

Glynnis MacNicol further analyzes the ad:

Truth be told it almost manages to make Palin look presidential, or at least a serious candidate.

It plays to Palin’s strengths without being overly kitschy (apparently pink elephants are the new pitbulls wearing lipstick) and as Mika Brzezinski noted this morning there’s not even a hint of Palin portraying herself as a victim of the media. So perhaps she’s figured out that that’s always a losing card.

Equally interesting is the fact this video makes no mention of any of the women Palin initially dubbed the ‘mama grizzlies.’ This video is all about Palin. The closest it comes to acknowledging another candidate is at the very end when she notes “there’s a WHOLE stampede of pink elephants crossin’ the line and the ETA — stampeding through — is November 2nd, 2010.”

Mike Allen notes: “The emphasis on women could help expand Palin’s appeal toward the center, helping the Republican Party with its demographic peril.” And it certainly seems as though Palin has decided marshaling the power of those 18 million cracks is her best bet. If there was any doubt that Palin wants to be a player in 2012 (and I’ve certainly had plenty) this video pretty much clears it up.