Politico, the go-to political news website for D.C. insiders, is under fire from the left after the Washington Post reported that the company’s new German owner wants to focus on “nonpartisan” journalism and once sent an email appearing to endorse former President Donald Trump for re-election in 2020.
Mathias Döpfner is a billionaire media mogul and the new owner of Politico after his publishing company, Axel Springer, bought the website and its affiliate sites in a $1 billion deal last year. In an interview with the Washington Post, Döpfner said he’s concerned that American media has become too polarized and sees an opportunity for Politico to “prove that being nonpartisan is actually the more successful positioning.”
But the Post questioned how Döpfner “hopes to define nonpartisan journalism,” noting that his own political beliefs “have remained something of a mystery.” In an apparent attempt to out Döpfner as a secret Trump supporter, the paper reported an email Döpfner sent to his closest executives in 2020 that has now provoked controversy on social media.
In the email, Döpfner reportedly asked his associates, “Do we all want to get together for an hour in the morning on November 3 and pray that Donald Trump will again become President of the United States of America?”
According to the Washington Post, Döpfner argued that Trump’s policies on five key issues personally important to the CEO were correct — namely that Trump defended “free democracies” against Russia and China; pushed NATO allies to pay their obligated dues; pursued “tax reforms”; achieved peace deals in the Middle East; and challenged big tech monopolies. A sixth issue where Döpfner reportedly thought Trump fell short was tackling climate change.
“No American administration in the last 50 years has done more,” Döpfner reportedly wrote.
Confronted about the email, Döpfner denied that he had ever written any such praise for Trump.
“That’s intrinsically false,” he told the Post. “That doesn’t exist. It has never been sent and has never been even imagined.”
However, when shown a printed copy of the message, Döpfner conceded that he may have sent it as “as an ironic, provocative statement in the circle of people that hate Donald Trump.”
The Post also reported that Döpfner has privately criticized cancel culture and “gripes about identity politics” in conversations with friends. Speaking for himself, Döpfner identified as a “non-Jewish Zionist” with “small-L liberal” tendencies, who is deeply concerned with racism and homophobia.
Progressives on Twitter put Politico on blast over these revelations, accusing Döpfner of lying about his beliefs.
“Dear Politico CEO: If you are going to be a Trump supporter, at least have the courage to admit it,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tweeted. “Lying is never a good look for a media organization’s CEO. You didn’t just remain silent or say you didn’t remember. You went above and beyond and embellished your lie. Pathetic.”
— Ted Lieu (@Ted Lieu)
Matthew Sheffield, a journalist for the Young Turks, an online progressive news show, referred to Döpfner as “the new, far-right owner of Politico.”
“How soon until his dishonesty and extreme views filter into Politico’s journalism?” Sheffield asked.
— Matthew Sheffield (@Matthew Sheffield)
“Congrats @politico. You not only worked for a ‘neutral’ owner who prays for Trump but when confronted with the email confirming it says ‘That doesn’t exist. It has never been sent and has never been even imagined’ then says…oh yeah maybe that’s me,” progressive pundit Keith Olbermann jeered.
— Keith Olbermann (@Keith Olbermann)
“So Politico is owned by a lying Trump supporter in Germany? How should/can readers factor that in to what they read in Politico?” MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell asked.
— Lawrence O’Donnell (@Lawrence O’Donnell)
The far-left freakout over Politico’s new ownership comes days after liberals fumed at two CNN journalists who offered mild criticisms of President Joe Biden’s prime-time speech last week. CNN chief national affairs correspondent Jeff Zeleny and CNN “New Day” anchor Briana Keilar were critical of the presence of Marines behind Biden while he gave a political speech. Fox News reported that reactions ranged from accusations that CNN was trying to appeal to Trump supporters to blistering condemnations of “both sideism nonsense,” as one critic said.