Joe Williams, Politico’s White House Correspondent, made the remarks that resulted in his suspension during a panel discussion on Martin Bashir’s MSNBC show. Bashir suggested that Mitt Romney might be having trouble connecting with Hispanics because he rarely appears on television besides Fox. Williams responded:>
Romney is very, very comfortable it seems with people who are like him. That’s one of the reasons why he seems so stiff and awkward in some town hall settings, why he can’t relate to people other than that. But when he comes on Fox and Friends, they’re like him, they’re white folks who are very much relaxed in their own company.
Politico’s founding editors John Harris and Jim VandeHei addressed Williams’s suspension in a memo to staff about their journalists’ “clear and inflexible responsibility to cover politics fairly and free of partisan bias.” They explained:
Regrettably, an unacceptable number of Joe Williams’s public statements on cable and Twitter have called into question his commitment to this responsibility. His comment about Governor Romney earlier today on MSNBC fell short of our standards for fairness and judgment in an especially unfortunate way.
Joe has acknowledged that his appearance reflected a poor choice of words. This appearance came in the context of other remarks on Twitter that, cumulatively, require us to make clear that our standards are serious, and so are the consequences for disregarding them. This is true for all POLITICO journalists, including an experienced and well-respected voice like Joe Williams.
Following discussion of this matter with editors, Joe has been suspended while we review the matter.
Update: On his now-private Twitter, Williams writes that he’s “done” at Politico and promises more details to come.