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In Defense of Politico’s Mike Allen

Dear Readers,

This is a different kind of post today. I’m feeling sentimental after attending a charity comedy event at The Hamilton last night and feel a need to do something I’ve never done before, which is to defend Politico Playbook writer and Chief White House Correspondent Mike Allen. We’ve poked fun at him here in the Fishbowl more times than I’d personally want to tally. We’ve picked on him for relentlessly covering Joan VandeHei‘s birthday, for recently working his way through his steak-filled Argentinian vacation, for going on national TV with a giant bandage on his nose and for being the welcoming committee at any event be it Politico‘s or not. And we’ve also highlighted his many media scoops, Playbook Breakfasts and more.

But one thing we haven’t done is something his own colleague, Patrick Reis, did last night as one of the “comedians” at Commedia del Media, an event that raises money for child literacy. He broke loyalty ranks within his own publication, went up on stage and, just because he could, made Allen seem and sound like a complete fool. He spoke of Allen repeatedly introducing himself to Reis, as if he’d never met him before. He trashed him for his poor or unusual social skills and described him “bounding away” from him like he’s some sort of idiot.

The fact is, and I say this with all sincerity and knowing that I’m not remotely in his close cadre of friends, Allen is a decent person. Yes, we cover him day in and day out, sometimes in ways he probably doesn’t like. But he’s a good person, a devoted journalist and wouldn’t think to harm anyone. He certainly wouldn’t get up on a stage and, in front of some 300 members of the media, make fun of a colleague in a personally dismissive or nasty way. For Reis to stand up there and act like a giant d–k toward one of Politico‘s own was disrespectful, uncalled for and an embarrassment for the publication.

Only his colleague, Kate Nocera, defended his act, tweeting, “Yay! @Patrick_C_Reis was very funny. He may get fired tomorrow tho.”

Reis didn’t stop with Allen. He made fun of people in the room who may or may not have endured layoffs. Because that’s hilarious — losing your job and not knowing how you’re going to pay your bills. Specifically, he asked if there were any Washington Post employees in the room and then publicly wondered if they still had jobs. “Still not laid off yet?” he asked. Funny stuff, right? In this vein, he epitomized the very reputation Politico often has, fairly and unfairly because it isn’t everyone, of exemplifying an arrogance others loathe.

Last but not least, he brought up FishbowlDC a number of times, yours truly specifically, and called me “a bitch” and said I’d stab him. The room fell silent. While it was sort of funny that he said I’d stab him, my tablemates stared at me uncomfortably and offered to buy me a drink. His routine included dick jokes and sex jokes. Good times.

Toward the end of the routines, the evening’s emcee, HuffPost‘s Brandon Wetherbee, had an epiphany: He implored audience members to not tweet about the jokes so as to not get the “comedians” in trouble with their employers. He also instructed guests to delete whatever tweets they had already written.

I’d never met or heard of Reis before tonight. I suppose more importantly, I’d never read his work at Politico Pro. He was apparently named as one of FBDC’s “hotties” in 2011, but I had no recollection of it and had to look it up.

At the evening’s end, I went up and introduced myself (without a knife in hand, I might add). He looked ashen and shell-shocked and like he might cry. “I’m sorry. It was totally uncalled for,” he said, looking me in the eye. We were both sort of at a strange loss for words. He told me he didn’t think the conversation should go any further and I walked away.

The truth is, I’m fine, Reis. I do this for a living and can handle people hurling insults and sometimes giving me the cold shoulder at parties. I cover Washington’s media like you do lawmakers, only lawmakers are a lot more gracious about it.

But more importantly, what about Mike Allen? Where’s his apology?



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