News & Politics

Playbook Authors Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman Will Leave Politico at the End of 2020

Up next? Another joint venture.

Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer. (Photograph by M. Scott Mahaskey/courtesy Politico).

Washingtonians disposed to rise before dawn in order to peruse scoopy Beltway news, granular political analysis, Capitol Hill personnel changes, and #thistown birthdays will wake up to new Politico Playbook bylines come 2021: co-authors Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer will leave the outlet at the end of the year. Fittingly, the duo announced the move in Playbook on October 6; Matthew Kaminski and Carrie Budoff Brown also sent a memo to Politico staffers.

Sherman and Palmer have been writing the newsletter since 2016 (Politico reporter Daniel Lippman was originally a co-author, as well), and released a New York Times bestselling book together last year.

Mike Allen, co-founder of Axios and previous Politico chief White House correspondent, launched Playbook in 2007. It has since become a fixture of the capital-W Washington world, analyzing the day’s headlines, providing scoops, and rounding up sightings of the city’s power players.

The current Playbook duo has been at Politico for several years (Sherman for 11 years, Palmer for nine) and says it was time to try something new. “I’ve been here since the way beginning, when we were only a small group of people in the corner of the WJLA news room in 2009,” says Sherman. “I’m 34 years old and I’ve been at one place practically my entire career, so it just felt natural.”

It’s a move the co-authors settled on together: “Jake and I have been writing partners for a really long time,” says Palmer. “We made the decision a long time ago that we were in this to win this.” 

While the duo isn’t ready to announce the details of their next move, it will be a joint venture in DC, they say. (“It’s going to be a band,” Sherman jokes.) And as for who will man the next iteration of Playbook? “We literally have no idea,” says Palmer. “But I’m sure they will find a great person or multiple people to take on and build on what we’ve done.” Managing editor Blake Hounshell will oversee the hiring process, Kaminski and Brown wrote in their memo.

Looking back on their tenure, Palmer and Sherman say they’re most proud of how they’ve expanded Playbook’s scope. “We’ve been able to build upon and create a franchise that will live on long beyond our time at Politico,” says Palmer, pointing to additions like Playbook PM and the newsletter’s audio briefings and live events.

“We had a huge challenge because Mike Allen was such a massive figure in the creation of Politico and Playbook,” says Sherman, “and building and tripling the audience over four years has been a really cool undertaking.”

Of course, the 2020 news cycle has been a whirlwind of epic proportions, but don’t think the co-authors are leaving because they need a break. “It’s a grinding job, but we’re both reporters and this is what we love to do,” says Sherman, adding that there’s still an election to cover before they leave. “We have a lot of gas in the tank. We’re not burnt out.”

And before you ask—Palmer and Sherman, who wake up around 3 or 4 AM to write Playbook, will continue to get out of bed at an ungodly hour post-Politico. “We were early morning risers before this,” says Palmer, “and I can’t anticipate that changing.”

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.