The new publication will center on three daily newsletters, one free and two for subscribers, as well as a daily podcast produced with Cadence 13 and conference calls and virtual events for subscribers. Ms. Palmer, who covered lobbying and influence before co-writing Playbook, will be the chief executive. Their fourth co-founder — and only other employee — is Rachel Schindler, who left Facebook’s news team to run operations for the new company. And they’ll have no shortage of news in the coming days, beginning with Ms. Pelosi’s push to be re-elected speaker on Sunday, and the big question of how the Democratic left seeks to use power in the Biden years.
And then there’s the question of how to cover the Republican Party, many of whose top figures have indicated they will vote to reject the results of the presidential election. Is this a political party responding to its constituents, and should be covered as such? Or should reporters spend most of their time treating the House minority as a toxic anti-democratic sect?
“I don’t think it’s incumbent on me to say, you know, to necessarily brand a person a liar, say that they’re disloyal to the country or anything like that,” Mr. Bresnahan said. “But what is important for what we do is to say, Why is this person is doing that?”
That’s not to suggest that the Punchbowl reporters are afraid of confrontation with the people they cover in the small, open world that is the Capitol. Mr. Bresnahan has, for years, been the journalist most willing to publish the uncomfortable truth that many aging legislators can no longer really do their jobs. Ms. Palmer and Mr. Sherman have revealed corruption in both parties, and their reporting on Representative Aaron Schock’s spending habits led to his resignation in 2015.
(On Sunday, Mr. Sherman was reporting that Democratic and Republican officials were fighting on the House floor over Republicans’ refusal to wear masks.)
During the Trump era, Capitol Hill has often been treated by news organizations as an afterthought, even as Mr. Sherman and Ms. Palmer produced a daily reminder of how few of Mr. Trump’s plans could ever make it into legislation, and maintained a raised eyebrow at the White House’s frank naïveté about the workings of the legislative branch of government.
Politico will be competing on the same turf, though on a far larger scale, with more than 600 employees and $160 million in revenue last year. Politico executives said the Playbook team’s departure would allow them to broaden that franchise away from its current Capitol Hill focus. They want it to take a wider view of politics, which its founder, the singular voice of the Washington establishment, Mike Allen, brought to both Playbook and then to Axios — adapted for a moment when politics is everywhere in American culture. They’ve recruited two high-profile journalists who left Politico, Rachael Bade to The Washington Post and Tara Palmeri to ABC News, to return. The two will join Politico’s chief Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza and the video journalist Eugene Daniels in a wider stream of coverage.