Updated: 8:53 a.m. ET
Politico has pulled Dave Catanese from the publication’s Todd Akin coverage over the reporter’s tweets about the embattled Missouri Republican Senate nominee. After Akin ignited a firestorm by claiming women who are victims of “legitimate rape” have biological defenses to prevent pregnancy, Catanese took to Twitter to defend the tea party candidate “for argument’s sake.”
“Poor phrasing, but if you watch the intv @ToddAkin meant to convey that there’s less chance of getting pregnant if raped,” Catanese tweeted Sunday. “So perhaps some can agree that all rapes that are reported are not actually rapes? Or are we gonna really deny that for PC sake?” he continued.
By Monday morning, Catanese admitted it was a “bad idea” to wade into the issue on Twitter:
Re last night: Bad idea trying to have nuanced conversation on highly charged issue on here. Did not intend to take a side. Lesson learned.— davecatanese (@davecatanese) August 20, 2012
In a memo to staff, Politico’s Editor-in-Chief John Harris and Executive Editor Jim VandeHei urged reporters to use good judgment on social media platforms and warned about the perils if they don’t.
“Dave’s tweets on Akin created a distraction to his own work, and to the newsroom as a whole. They also made himself part of the story, requiring us for now to remove him from Akin coverage,” they added.
Catanese’s suspension from the Akin story comes just two months after the same publication suspended White House reporter Joe Williams for suggesting that Mitt Romney is most comfortable around “white folks” and posting a few crude tweets of his own. Reached by phone Monday, Williams told TPM that Twitter is becoming a “very dangerous medium” for journalists.
“I trust Politico will steady the situation and do the right thing,” he said. “I know David, and he’s a very good journalist. I think they’ll find some way to resolve it.”
Politico on Monday declined to comment on the company’s social media review process. Catanese remains on staff at Politico, while Williams ultimately got the boot, but for now the issue appears resolved.
Read the full memo below:
We have had newsroom conversations about the importance of good judgment on social platforms like Twitter and the perils of letting that slip.
Unfortunately, today offered a good example. David Catanese crossed a line a reporter shouldn’t cross on Twitter when he seemed to weigh in on the merits of Todd Akin’s comments—especially in a way many people, including many POLITICO colleagues, understandably found offensive.
Dave’s tweets on Akin created a distraction to his own work, and to the newsroom as a whole. They also made himself part of the story, requiring us for now to remove him from Akin coverage.
Today’s episode is a reminder that we need to be paying more attention to the ongoing issue of the right way for POLITICO journalists to be using social media. We have raised this issue before, and if you have questions about how this applies to your own work please speak with your direct editor.
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com