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Joe Williams, Suspended Politico Reporter, Blames Conservative Media Smear Campaign

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The reporter suspended from Politico for comments about Mitt Romney said on Wednesday that he had been the target of a deliberate right-wing smear campaign.

Speaking to radio and Current TV host Bill Press, Joe Williams, who was punished for saying on MSNBC that Mitt Romney is more comfortable around "white folks," said that there had been a "selective prosecution" against him by conservative websites like The Daily Caller and the late Andrew Breitbart's Big Media

Williams told Press that he is still "in limbo" with Politico, and is in negotiations about his future there.

Speaking about the comments that got him suspended, Williams said that he "probably should have selected my words more carefully." But he defended the broader point he had been making, and said that he thought people had understood what he meant. Asked by Press if he should apologize to Mitt Romney for saying he felt more at home with white people, Williams said, "If I apologize for that there are going to be many other people who will have to as well."

Williams said that the right-wing outlets targeting him were nothing more than bullies.

"It's the schoolyard bully concept," he said, later adding, "They're in the business of gathering scalps. They're in the business of pushing independent organizations to their point of view or at least to having to react to their point of view."

He said that he expected the same outlets to further pound him after his interview with Press.

"I think the right has such an agenda here ... that it's impossible for this to be an isolated case," he said.

Press also asked Williams, who is African American, about a comment he made on Twitter saying that racism is "the secret sauce in the Politico s--tburger." Williams said that the tweet, which he made weeks before his Romney comments, had been mistakenly posted to his public feed, rather than in a direct message.

"Twitter is a medium that rewards ... lack of thought," he said. "I was in a very irritated place. I vented in a public place and that was a huge mistake." He later said, though, that Politico has "a lot of questions" to deal with in terms of its staff diversity.

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