Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt and Politico editor-in-chief John Harris spoke Wednesday about a growing rift over Post media critic Erik Wemple's coverage of Politico Playbook writer Mike Allen.
The Politico and Post editors were expected to meet in person, as The Huffington Post first reported Tuesday, but instead spoke by phone. Despite tensions rising in recent days -- with Wemple again digging into Playbook Tuesday and Allen firing back hours later -- both editors indicated there were no fireworks during Wednesday's chat.
"Our conversation was professional and non-dramatic," Harris said in an email to HuffPost.
"The tone of the call was civil and friendly," said Hiatt, who manages Wemple on the opinion side of the Post, also via email.
"The subject, broadly, was Erik's coverage of Politico," he said. "I don't want to characterize John's views, but it's no secret that he does not think that our coverage has always been fair. I responded that in my view Erik's coverage has been well-reported and accurate and good, but I promised to take John's points seriously and share them with Erik."
Wemple has written several pieces in recent months suggesting that Allen rewards Playbook sponsors with flattering coverage, including a Nov. 20 post that drew significant attention in media circles. Wemple has also suggested Allen uses his influential Playbook newsletter to promote prominent media figures and outlets.
Allen didn't address Wemple's criticism until Tuesday night, telling HuffPost that the Post writer's reports were "false and insulting" and with an "obsessive, anti-Playbook agenda."
Following Allen's statement to HuffPost, Wemple responded that those remarks were "more than I got through many weeks of effort and even a personal encounter" with the Playbook writer.
Neither Harris nor Politico CEO Jim VandeHei responded to Wemple's accusations directly following the November report, but both criticized his Playbook coverage in interviews the following month with Fox News and WYNC, respectively.
On Wednesday morning, Harris told Politico media reporter Dylan Byers that he was "pissed" at the Post for allowing "a columnist to use innuendo, and selective thumb-on-the-scale reporting, to wage an ongoing campaign-like attack on a journalist whose integrity and professionalism I have witnessed at close range for nearly 25 years."
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