Oh, Politico! We're not laughing with you, but at you, after that 'advance God's Kingdom' scoop

Hey, remember after Donald Trump's stunning election victory when some navel-gazing media types contemplated their cluelessness.

Good times.

But that didn't last long, huh?

Which brings us to Politico's laugh-out-loud "scoop" featuring 15-year-old quotes from President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead the U.S. Education Department:

The billionaire philanthropist whom Donald Trump has tapped to lead the Education Department once compared her work in education reform to a biblical battleground where she wants to "advance God's Kingdom."
Trump’s pick, Betsy DeVos, a national leader of the school choice movement, has pursued that work in large part by spending millions to promote the use of taxpayer dollars on private and religious schools.
Her comments came during a 2001 meeting of “The Gathering,” an annual conference of some of the country’s wealthiest Christians. DeVos and her husband, Dick, were interviewed a year after voters rejected a Michigan ballot initiative to change the state’s constitution to allow public money to be spent on private and religious schools, which the DeVoses had backed.
In the interview, an audio recording, which was obtained by POLITICO, the couple is candid about how their Christian faith drives their efforts to reform American education.

Wow, talk about an insightful piece of "gotcha" journalism! (Sarcasm intended.)

Sarah Pulliam Bailey, the former GetReligionista, couldn't resist commenting on the Politico story:

Note to Politico: Bailey isn't some right-wing media basher. She's a national religion writer for the Washington Post. So when she makes light of your "scoop," it might be a clue that your ignorance about how many Christians talk is hurting your journalistic credibility.

Eric Gorski also has major journalistic street cred as a former Associated Press national religion writer. He, too, chimed in on the story:

And there was this suggestion from Bob Smietana, the Godbeat veteran and former president of the Religion News Association:

Some of the other, similar reactions on Twitter:

If you don't understand the @katearthur reference, she's the Buzzfeed writer who produced an "exposé" last week on Chip And Joanna Gaines’ church opposing same-sex marriage: 

This is, of course, at least the second journalistic crash-and-burn by a mainstream news organization attempting to cover DeVos' selection as education secretary:

So what's the journalistic takeaway or lesson for Politico here?

One that comes to mind involves actually reporting the news from an unbiased perspective. For example, the "promote the use of taxpayer dollars on private and religious schools" in the second paragraph is slanted against voucher proponents. Why not say "allow taxpayers to use education funds to send their children to any school they choose, public, private or religious?" But this isn't GetEducation.

So my main advice for Politico, focused on the GetReligion angle, is pretty simple: When writing about a subject on which your knowledge is extremely lacking (say, Christian subculture lingo), be more careful with your laughable gotcha/scoop/exposé pieces based on 15-year-old quotes. Or something like that.


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