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NYT Smacks Politico: Jill’s Revenge?

It’s tricky to write a story about a new competitor and not come off as a tad defensive and afraid.

The NYT, which has “obsessively” covered every “twitch and shiver” of Politico‘s existence, has a piece out by Leslie Kaufman that appears to be some sort of preemptive strike against the new Robert Allbritton publication – CapitalNY – that claims to be taking aim at the powerful and complex New York media machine that includes the NYT.

To be sure, the story, which published Sunday, adopts a snide tone against Politico. Kaufman describes Allbritton Communications as “the cash-rich media company that owns Politico, which obsessively covers every twitch and shiver of Washington.”

Every inch of the story oozes with the notion that Allbritton – like the failure spinoff pub TBD – may have bitten off more than he can chew. “Is this Jill’s revenge?” asks a Washington media insider on condition of anonymity and referring to NYT Executive Editor Jill Abramson. “She was clearly outraged at that Politico piece on her controversial management style. What better way to hit back than to order up a condescending piece about their new pet project. What’s weird is the purpose seems so transparent.” That story, published in April, can be found here.

The downside of the piece: the NYT‘s smacks the newly owned operation down before they’ve even had a chance to find their sea legs. The upside: People like an underdog, they may want a scrappy pub like CapitalNY to show up the NYT.

On an amusing note, they spelled Politico Dylan Byers‘ surname like this: “Byars.” The mistake was corrected by 8:45 a.m.

And something else: The writer explains that Byers jumped in to help CapitalNY “post news” but never explains that he and CapitalNY writer Joe Pompeo beat the NYT on the story of Rick Stengel leaving TIME for the State Department. This story, like the one they published last week, fails to credit Politico/CapitalNY for that story, although sources tell us that the NYT astonishingly explained to them why they wouldn’t be crediting them. Byers and Pompeo contacted NYT Media Desk Editor Bruce Headlam on the matter. Bruce replied to Pompeo’s emails and took Byers’ call.

See our catalog of insults after the jump…

First graph: Kaufman notes that CapitalNY is not some slice of heaven — “it struggled to pay freelancers on time and to get the credit the editors thought they deserved.”

Later…she describes the the current CapitalNY as a “placid general interest site” that hopes to compete with the big dogs. The tone is: fat chance of that happening.

The editors…the article appears to mock the current editor duo of Josh Benson and Tom McGeveran. McGeveran is single with – the nerve of him – freckles and a “sardonic sense of humor.” Benson, meanwhile, is intense and married. She describes them with all the seriousness of a cartoon, remarking that friends refer to them as  the “Tom and Jerry show.”  She later quotes a former colleague calling them the “Mutt and Jeff” and “Felix and Oscar” of journalism.

The office… Again the disdainful tone. She describes the office as “bare bones” with “desks” and “computers” and “coffee mugs” — um, don’t most offices in the free world have these items? Sort of noteworthy that there are no real “offices” — everyone will be have to hopefully be one big happy family.

Jim VandeHei, Politico‘s executive editor and CapitalNY’s president, not surprisingly, went all aggressive for the story. He said, among other things, “From our end, we will be imposing the business structure.”

Read the full story here.

We reached out to NYT‘s Headlam to ask two questions. If he responds on the record, we will run his answers.

1. Why did you guys not explain that Byers broke a big story that beat out the NYT piece — and again no credit. Why is that?
2.  Also…is this piece, in part, revenge for the story that Politico ran on Jill Abramson?

 

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