Politico, the prominent D.C.-based politics publisher, is getting dragged for its tepid response to President Donald Trump’s decision to use the White House as his backdrop for the Republican National Convention.
While presidents are always in a unique spot when it comes to re-election, having to balance the needs of the office and the nation with the needs to please and placate a party base, Trump’s decision to center his re-election around his home on Pennsylvania Avenue has raised many questions about whether he is breaking federal law.
Politico‘s legit response? “Who cares.”
In its Playbook newsletter, the site brushed aside the president’s choices:
“HERE’S SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Of course, much of this is improper, and, according to most every straight-faced expert, it’s a violation of the Hatch Act. It’s incumbent upon the news media to point that out. But do you think a single person outside the Beltway gives a hoot about the president politicking from the White House or using the federal government to his political advantage? Do you think any persuadable voter even notices?”
It’s incumbent on the news media to point this out, Politico says, but you’d be dumb to give a shit, it adds, to which… what?
Trump’s electioneering from the White House stands in violation of a longstanding law (one Trump officials have routinely flouted), the Hatch Act, which states the employees of the federal government cannot use their positions to advance a candidate or party.
That most experts, in Politico‘s writing, would deem it a crime should make it a pretty open-and-shut case.
Naturally, people on Twitter were incensed that it would write off something like this.
Politico stood by its stance of “who cares.”
“I oftentimes find that people think the entire govt is crooked and dont care. I have a VERY low threshold for this. And I find that my outrage isnt matched,” wrote Jake Sherman, who helps helm Playbook, in response to backlash.
In its defense, Politico asked White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about it, who said essentially, who cares, which it then shared to its 4 million followers.
A quick Google search of Politico for references to “Hillary Clinton email” nets over 30,000 results, while a similar site search for “Trump Hatch Act” finds just 2,400 results, despite almost everyone in Trump’s orbit facing accusations of violating it.
So is it people outside the Beltway who don’t care? Or is it Politico?
But that wasn’t Politico‘s only misstep in the eyes of the online this morning. It also had glowing praise for Melania Trump’s address, which it called “remarkable,” saying it “restored a sense of normalcy,” and adding that she “pushed for racial unity.”
Melania Trump infamously regurgitated her husband’s false and inflammatory birther claims against former President Barack Obama, so many thought she shouldn’t be allowed to get credit for striking a note of racial unity.
Night No. 3 of the RNC is tonight. Subscribe to Playbook here to see what Politico has in store next.
This article has been updated for clarity.