Politico’s Mike Elk Has ‘Panic Attacks’ as He Frets for His Job

Mike Elk / gofundme.com posting
Mike Elk / gofundme.com posting

"Christmas came early to me this year when I get [sic] hired," labor reported Mike Elk told his new colleagues at Virginia-based trade publication Politico on Wednesday. But Elk also revealed that he’s worried about being canned.

In a rambling, at times incoherent email to 15 of his colleagues, Elk, who once told a Washington Free Beacon reporter to "fucking burn in hell," expressed concern about covering Politico’s union negotiations when it expands into Brussels, Belgium, next year.

Elk "got nervous and had panic attacks" when, he says, Ed Hunter, a source for a March Elk piece on the unionization drive at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn., plant, threatened to block Politico’s expansion across the Atlantic. (How Hunter planned to do so was not clear, though he promised, Elk said, "to call some of his German drinking buddies and send in a fucking Huey.")

Joanne Oschmann, a vice president at Politico parent Capitol News Company, assured Elk that, panic attacks notwithstanding, he will not be fired.

Elk later forwarded his email to an email listserv for labor reporters. "This is on the record," he wrote. "As a labor reporter, I cant ever possibly cover thsi [sic] in an objective manner."

Read the full email below. All typographical errors were in the original text:

From: Mike Elk

Sent: Monday, December 22, 2014 4:35 PM

To: Hadas Gold; Dylan Byers

Cc: Timothy Noah; Marty Kady; Michael Crowley; Joanne Ochsman; ‘Larry Cohen'; Candice Johnson; [email address redacted]; Steve Early; Glenn Thrush; Brian Mahoney; Marianne Levine; Carrie Budoff Brown; Hilary Krieger

Subject: story – Politico agrees to neutrality as part of European expansion

As a labor reporter, I don’t want to be involved in covering this as one of the people involved Ed Hunter I once told while writing "The Battle for Chattanooga" that "even though, I was a labor reporter that I was soldier behind enemy lines during the Battle for Chattanooga". Ed said that he had seen President Obama’s comments about POLITICO coming to Belgium and become deeply concerned about me since I helped him raise money at the Lamont Street Collective to help him save his house. Ed repeatedly said that "he was going to call some of his German drinking buddies and send in a fucking Huey".  He inferred that he would get his buddies through Volkswagen Germany to put pressure in Berlin on POLITICO and threaten to block POLITICO’s European expansion.

I got nervous and had panic attacks. I discussed the matter with my cousin Faye at Marx. Marx it should be noted was the site of the founding of a worker center for people who covers workers and feelings about unions are complex. In one of his last acts, Steven Greenhouse as  the labor reporter at the New York Times, named the worker center "Industrial Whoas of the World." (IWW) and second Lydia DePillis of The Washington Post’s suggestion that I be it Dean.

I went this morning to Cosi and I meet with Bruce Jett and debated if I would get fired and what I should do about what Ed told me. Bruce instructed me to report it to Joanne Oschmann. Oschmann informed me that she had worked with unions for years and instructed me to "relax – we don’t fire people here for that". I told her that given that Susan Glasser’s grandfather was UAW that it would make a good marketing scheme to compete with the Post which is crushing it unions.

I wil leave the story at this – you can all decide if you want to cover it. I am taking off to Pittsburgh. Merry Christmas to you – Christmas came early to me this year when I get hired.

Shortly after Elk published his piece on the unionization effort it Chattanooga, he jetted off to a crowdfunded vacation in the Sunshine State.