A recently updated version of Politico’s style guide reveals that the outlet is doubling down on forcing reporters to use so-called “inclusive” language — such as “pregnant people” instead of women — and will require all articles on transgender issues to be specially reviewed by multiple editors.
I first reported on Politico’s woke style guide in my book The Snowflakes’ Revolt, which also uncovers how reporters were required to attend a struggle session led by transgender activists. As I lay out in an excerpt published in The Spectator, that version of the guide, which was created in January 2022, warned reporters to avoid gendered language like “manmade,” “manhunt,” “waiter or waitress,” “biological sex” and more.
In a section pertaining to reproductive health, Politico says reporters should “Consider using gender-neutral language like ‘pregnant people’ or ‘people using birth control,’ rather than ‘pregnant women,’ as there are nonfemale identifying people who are able to become pregnant, require reproductive healthcare, etc.”:
A new version of the style guide, updated by Kim Bryson, Politico’s editorial director for production and copyediting, on March 3, 2023 — just two days after my reporting was featured in the Daily Mail — goes even further.
Bryson, who lists her pronouns in her Twitter bio, scrapped the word “consider” from the reproductive health section. Now, reporters are told to “use ‘pregnant people,’ ‘people using birth control,’ ‘abortion patients’ or ‘people seeking abortions’” unless they have a “personal preference” that requires them to use “woman” or “man.”
My book also shared exclusive details on the backlash one reporter, Gabby Orr, received from colleagues when she wrote an article about the GOP’s response to men who identify as women competing in women’s sports in 2021. Orr was accused of causing offense to transgender individuals by failing to contextualize the “transphobic” comments of conservatives quoted in the article. Robin Turner, then the director of Editorial Diversity Initiatives at Politico, suggested that “sensitivity readers” look over any future stories written by Orr about transgender issues.
That guidance appears to have been recently standardized throughout the newsroom. The March 3, 2023 style guide cautions reporters, “Do not guess what language is appropriate” when writing on issues of gender and identity. Instead, reporters should seek out an additional edit when covering this topic, even though other stories they write wouldn’t need one.
“If you are writing about this issue, run the language by a second editor, even if a story or newsletter doesn’t normally require one, a managing editor or the standards & ethics editor,” Politico says.
Other updates to the guide include a ban on the term “unmanned” and the addition of the term “marginalized genders.” Politico describes this as the “preferred term to describe everyone who is not a cis man”, i.e. a man who is not transgender. Reporters are instructed to “respond” to “claims” that there are “two genders” with a Politifact article that defines gender as a “social construct”.
Another section of the style guide advises reporters to refer to any medical intervention done to a person with gender dysphoria as “gender-affirming care” or “transition-related medical care.” Reporters are told to avoid terms like “sex change,” “sex reassignment” or “gender reassignment,” despite those phrases being both more descriptive and less-politically charged.
Politico previously responded to my reporting in a statement to the Daily Mail. They rejected my suggestion that complaints from woke staffers were responsible for the updates to its editorial standards, calling it “inaccurate and completely misinformed.” Alternatively, Politico insisted that these changes were done with the intention of keeping the outlet “nonpartisan, accurate and fair.”
Is the term “pregnant people” or “birthing people” supposed to be more accurate than “women” or “mothers?” Are reporters being “fair” if they are told it is “transphobic” and a violation of journalistic ethics to cover “both sides” of transgender issues? Is it “nonpartisan” to describe GOP legislation to protect women’s sports as “anti-transgender” or to ban the use of “illegal alien,” a legal term enshrined in federal immigration statutes? I report, you decide.