'MY BAD!' Mike Allen issues mea culpa for proposed softball interview with Chelsea Clinton


Mike Allen, POLITICO's chief White House correspondent, this morning issued an apology for floating the possibility of a "no surprises" interview with Chelsea Clinton in 2013 during an email exchange with Clinton confidant Philippe Reines.

The apology follows a report from Gawker's J.K. Trotter published last week disclosing that Allen offered to agree upon a list of questions in advance that would allow Clinton to "make news on" her topic of choice. Allen never did the interview, and POLITICO editor Susan Glasser told Gawker that the outlet forbids providing questions to sources in advance.

In his apology, which occupies two paragraphs near the middle of Playbook, Allen says Gawker "rightly took me to task" for the "clumsy" exchange with Reines. He says he has never provided sources with questions in advance and would not do so:

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.

Allen's Playbook is the Beltway's unofficial tipsheet and has spawned a legion of competitors on other topics and beats. The scoopy newsletter is read widely and breaks big news regularly, though it has been accused in the past of blurring the lines between advertising and editorial content.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.


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