Suspended Politico White House reporter Joe Williams’s future at the political news organization remains “in limbo,” he told Current TV’s “The Bill Press Show” on Wednesday.
“There are communications going back and forth,” Williams said. “We are trying to resolve the situation — the sooner the better for both sides.”
Politico last week suspended Williams after he told MSNBC’s Martin Bashir that Mitt Romney feels most comfortable around “white folks.” That’s why Romney seems so uncomfortable in some town hall settings, Williams said. The comment, coupled with some other derogatory tweets directed at Romney, proved enough for suspension.
While negotiations are ongoing, Williams on Wednesday didn’t say whether he is interested in continuing to work at Politico. “It’s not ultimately up to me to make up my mind,” Williams told TPM in a phone interview. “There are two parties here. Exactly what’s going to happen still remains unclear. I know that I pride my reputation as much as Politico prides theirs. And a way forward has to involve both sides.”
Talking to “The Bill Press Show,” Williams continued to push back on The Daily Caller and Breitbart, two sites that he says have used his comments to stir up trouble. Breitbart’s Big Journalism first reported on Williams’ tweets. On March 30, Williams tweeted that “blatant racism” is the “secret sauce in the Politico shitburger,” according to The Daily Caller. The tweet was not meant for public consumption, Williams told Current, adding that it was a “huge mistake.” He has since suspended his Twitter account. Those conservative sites are interested in leaning on news organizations and attempting to root out bias, Williams said on Current. “They’re in the business of gathering scalps.”
Politico reacted to Williams’s comments the way many Washington news organizations would, he told TPM later. “When you have somebody suggesting strongly and erroneously and out of context that one of your reporters is not fair, it’s very hard to not react in that situation.”
But he stressed the importance of standing up to agenda-driven publishers. “Journalism in this country has always prided itself on being fearless, independent, willing to push back on government,” he said. “Now we’re not even willing to push back on our own critics.”
Watch Williams’s interview on Current:
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com