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Politico suspended its White House correspondent late Thursday night for suggesting that Mitt Romney is more comfortable around white people than minorities, a comment that quickly drew the ire of conservatives.
"Romney is very, very comfortable, it seems, with people who are like him," Joe Williams said during an appearance on MSNBC. "That's one of the reasons why he seems so stiff and awkward in town hall meetings, why he can't relate to people other than that. But when he comes on Fox and Friends, they're like him. They're white folks who are very much relaxed in their own company."
The clip was quickly flagged by the conservative Washington Free Beacon and from there made the rounds on Breitbart and a host of other conservative media sites. Williams had also previously taken to Twitter to criticize Romney. Both the clip and the tweets were cited by Politico brass as explanations for why he was suspended while editors "review the matter."
"Politico journalists have a clear and inflexible responsibility to cover politics fairly and free of partisan bias," the publication's editors wrote in a memo to staff. "Regrettably, an unacceptable number of Joe Williams’s public statements on cable and Twitter have called into question his commitment to this responsibility." (The full memo is posted at the New York Times.)
Williams, who is black, previously served as the Boston Globe's deputy Washington bureau chief. According to his Politico bio, in addition to covering the Obama administration cabinet and domestic policies, he also examines "the intersection of race and politics."