Is Politico a trustworthy organization for US news?
September 6, 2016 4:29 PM   Subscribe

I see a lot of Politico stories popping up these days about the upcoming US election. Are they worth my time to read? In general is their news reporting trustworthy and well sourced? Or are they mostly biased, clickbait, or recycled stories from other sources?

I'm pretty picky about my news. I'm trying to avoid wasting my time with clickbait, recycled crap (Huffington Post, Forbes, Business Insider), or stuff that's just outright biased (Breitbart, Fox, sometimes Truthout). News sources I do like are the NYTimes, the Washington Post, the Economist. They all have their problems but they tend to be intelligent, original, well-sourced.

Where does Politico fall on the quality reporting spectrum? For example, here are three stories from today: Trump, Clinton, Polls On a cursory read they all seem reasonable and well sourced, original reporting even. But then the site is so well promoted I'm a little suspicious. I guess what I'm looking for is more background on Politico, what kind of reporting they do and what their track record has been.
posted by Nelson to Writing & Language (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Politico does original reporting. They're a credible source but you have to keep in mind that they're basically a trade publication for the trade of political professionals. I am a political professional so I read it.
posted by fancypants at 4:33 PM on September 6, 2016 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Agreed. Politico is very good for what it is. Unfortunately (for me), what it is strikes me mostly as very deep inside-baseball politics stuff, horserace coverage, and DC-area gossip. I think it will strike you as very different from NYTimes and the Economist. But yes, they do their own reporting and post original content that is not just recycled from somewhere else.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 5:09 PM on September 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

Politico is ok. Like others have said, it's aimed at insiders, but occasionally they run general features. Their credibility, like the rest of the mainstream media, isn't flawless, but it's comparable to the Times or the Post. Definitely several steps above Huffington Post or those places.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:25 PM on September 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: As far as it's background, it was founded about a decade ago by former Washington Post reporters (John Harris, Jim VandeHei) and financially backed by a veteran broadcast TV owner (Robert Allbritton), so their journalistic bona fides are pretty solid. Due to their cozy relationship with the professional political class in DC, left-wing and right-wing activists have taken turns complaining about perceived bias, which amounts to a badge of nonpartisan certification in DC.
posted by AndrewInDC at 5:43 PM on September 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've found it pretty reliable and objective (albeit poorly copy-edited). I read it regularly, and I couldn't tell you whether it leans left or right or what. I don't agree that it's too insidery. It gives you a window into the political world, but I find that interesting, and I'm not a political professional. It's not unusually clickbait-y — and I'm militantly anti-clickbait. (I define "clickbait" as a headline that promises something more exciting than the article delivers, to trick people into clicking through.) Politico seems to be very focused on giving accurate descriptions and informed predictions about electoral politics. While their predictions aren't always on the mark, I don't see a bias pointing in one consistent direction.
posted by John Cohen at 6:00 PM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think that Politico’s stories on this particular election have been really excellent. It’s worth noting that Politico Magazine often highlights more op-ed content than original reporting, and it can at times be easy to confuse the two. Consider these various pieces by Isaac J. Bailey: “I’m a Black Southerner Who’s Seen Racism All My Life. Why Do I Stay Silent?”, “How Bernie Sanders Exposed the Democrats’ Racial Rift”, and “Why Obama Must Reach Out to Angry Whites” These are long-form op-eds that, while substantial shouldn’t be confused with actual reportage.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:16 PM on September 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Politico is generally right-slanting and has a sort of cynical realpolitik outlook that to my mind tends to be typical of "smart" conservatives. It and the Washington Post are what you read if you're a Republican on one of the coasts. As a leftist, I'll also say that they're conservative, but they are also actual journalists.

Note that this particular election has somewhat warped the political leanings of quite a few mainstream publications, as reputable right-leaning media sources don't want anything to do with Trump. I'll click on a Politico article this election season where I wouldn't have touched them with a 10 foot pole in either Obama election.
posted by Sara C. at 9:31 PM on September 6, 2016 [6 favorites]

I think Politico is really good if you want to understand where the Beltway zeitgeist is. That's going to be inherently fairly cynical in a way that may come off as conservative, but if you want to know how the sausage is being made, it's good for that. I don't work in politics but I work in a politics-adjacent field and all the policy wonks I know read it.
posted by lunasol at 10:15 PM on September 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

It and the Washington Post are what you read if you’re a Republican on one of the coasts.

As someone originally from the DC area, I feel ok saying that that the Washington Post is the thing you read if you live in the DC area, regardless of politics. That’s not a function of the masthead, but simply the nature of the content.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:01 PM on September 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

Well, Politico created that terrible, complete garbage hatchet job accusing Bill Clinton of subsidizing his charitable Foundation with taxpayer funds. It was all nonsense from top to bottom. Are they worse than anyone else? You'll have to decide for yourself, but I would never trust them.
posted by JackFlash at 4:05 PM on September 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

The article in question (albeit with a revised headline - see footer), by Kenneth Vogel: “Bill Clinton aides used tax dollars to subsidize foundation, private email support”
posted by Going To Maine at 4:43 PM on September 7, 2016

(“Revised”, I note, matches JackFlash’s original statement of the headline.)
posted by Going To Maine at 4:45 PM on September 7, 2016

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