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Politico’s ‘Lifetime’ Ban From FNC; Was It Ben Smith’s Fault?

It’s well known that the staff at Politico is between the sheets with MSNBC and on the outs with FNC. An excerpt from the to-be-released An Atheist in the FOXhole published by Salon confirms that fact and provides a little more detail:

Sometimes entire organizations were given lifetime bans [at Fox News]. The website Politico wrote something a few years back that rubbed Roger the wrong way (we were never told what exactly the transgression was) and word went out to all the shows: No more Politico reporters as guests. Also, any anchors who mentioned the site on air had to use the phrase “left-wing Politico” — an absurd designation for a publication that usually played it down the middle.

A web search shows Politico has, in the past, been referred to as “liberal” or “lefty” at FNC. Those references seemed to take place exclusively on FNC’s morning show “Fox & Friends” and with particular zeal from co-host Steve Doocy.

It’s common knowledge that many current and former reporters at Politico (and a lot of different publications on Planet Earth) are on the outs with FNC and FNC PR in particular, with editors and scribes dealing with intense squabbles. But is Ben Smith to blame for the deep rift?

Asked if he knows anything about the “ban” on Politico reporters, Smith simply told FishbowlDC, “I don’t!”

But Smith, formerly with Politico and now editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, has a past with Doocy.

Smith wrote up a fairly innocuous item for Politico in Jan. 2011 headlined “The plot to take [FNC CEO] Roger Ailes down.” In the piece, which was mostly a highlight of an Esquire feature on Ailes, Smith called FNC’s honcho “interesting” and “one of the most powerful men in American politics.” It also pulled a bit from the Esquire article in which Ailes recounted how he came to apologize to the Jewish community for calling NPR executives “Nazis.”

“You know on this program how we talked about Politico is a lefty web site?” Doocy said on F&F the next day. “I was looking at it yesterday, I was reading a column by Ben Smith — column about a guy here at Fox News Channel — and I looked at some of the comments from some of his readers and these are some of the comments about Ben Smith at Politico.” Doocy went on to read negative anonymous comments on Smith and the “liberal media.”

Smith responded with a post, in which he said Doocy’s “rant” revealed “a remarkably thin skin.”

Nearly a month later, in a conversation with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Doocy once again called Politico “lefty” on the air.

Five months after that, “F&F” ran a segment on former Politico reporter Andy Barr leaving the publication to work for the Arizona Democratic Party. “SITE’S LIBERAL SLANT REVEALED,” read the “F&F” screen title.

An Atheist in the FOXhole is authored by Joe Muto, who worked as a producer on FNC’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” He was fired in the summer of 2012 after the network learned he was leaking internal FNC information to Gawker.

We reached out to Politico for comment and they said they’d get back to us if they had anything to say. Nothing yet.

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