It’s been a year since Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman, and Daniel Lippman took over Politico’s Playbook newsletter, the always insightful, relentlessly insidery bible for Washington’s swamp-creature class. They faced a tough job, stepping in for the indefatigable Mike Allen, who created and oversaw Playbook with an intensity and flair that felt hard to match. Lippman had helped Allen with his column since 2014, but he took over full-time with Palmer and Sherman one year ago, on July 11, 2016. Since then, the three have crisscrossed the country, launched a podcast, an afternoon newsletter, and thrown themselves into the event business. They also just sold a book about the backroom deals and dramas on Capitol Hill, scheduled for release after the 2018 midterm elections, provisionally titled “A Hill to Die On.” We caught up with Palmer and Sherman—Lippman was on the road, as he often is—as they prepared to celebrate their first anniversary running Playbook. Here, they talk about how to make friends in Washington, what it’s like covering the Trump White House, and why politics is the most fascinating story on earth.
The Hive: Happy Birthday!
Sherman: Do I get a gift for this?
So, just to get this out of the way: Anyone following a big name inevitably faces comparisons with one’s predecessor. How was it to follow someone like Mike Allen?
Sherman: We were both very close colleagues with Mike, who was a mentor of ours, and he encouraged us to do this at the outset. The way we oriented our thinking back in 2016, we weren’t going to try to be Mike Allen. We aren’t Mike Allen. We are Jake and Anna and Daniel. But people did like what they were doing with Playbook.
Palmer: Mike created the Washington newsletter and deserves a ton of credit. We approached it as a second generation relaunch of a brand.
What was your strategy?
Sherman: We have readers in all 50 states, and we see Playbook as the connective tissue, not just for people in Washington involved in the political game but for people in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago, who are involved, interested, or need to understand it to conduct their daily business.
We’ve done it in a more purposeful and methodical way not just through events but also by building out a source network. It’s what we try to think of as constituent service. The Playbook community is all over the country. All these additions have been wildly successful. More people are reading Playbook than ever before and more people are opening it than ever before and it’s making more money than ever before.
Read more at Vanity Fair.