News & Politics

Politico Announces Its New Playbook Team

Rachael Bade, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri, and Eugene Daniels will take over the influential newsletter

Photograph by JL Images/iStock.

Rachael Bade, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri, and Eugene Daniels will be the new authors of Politico’s Playbook newsletter, the Rosslyn-based news organization announced Friday. The new team will be supported by Eli Okun and Garrett Ross, who’ve written the afternoon edition of Playbook for some time now, as well as producer Alice Bice. Mike Zapler will edit.

Lizza and Daniels are already Politico staffers. Bade will rejoin Politico from the Washington Post, and Palmeri rejoins from ABC News. They’ll replace Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer, who left Politico to start their own newsletter business, Punchbowl News.

Under the new crew, Playbook will become “substantially saucier,” Joe Pompeo writes in a Vanity Fair piece about the new team.

Here’s the memo from Politico bigwigs Carrie Budoff Brown, Blake Hounshell, and Matthew Kaminski:

Hi all —

We’re pleased to announce the new Playbook team, which takes the reins on Jan. 19 — just as one administration leaves power and a new one enters office.

Before we get to the juicier parts, a brief note on the mission.

Since its inception, Playbook is what Washington wakes up with. It sets the agenda for the political day and days ahead and breaks news and makes sense of it. It dishes a steady dose of insider nuggets and intrigue for and about power players here. But as the town has changed in the years since Playbook launched as a one-writer operation, so too has the ambition of this, our flagship product.

Playbook 3.0 has to take its community of readers inside the backrooms of decision-making for all the important power centers — from the West Wing and congressional leaders’ offices to deep inside key agencies and the K Street conversation, and ultimately to the campaign trail. It has to bring them to the front lines of the big legislative battles dominating the headlines, and how they might play out. It has to focus on the people driving the action here— their egos, insecurities and peccadillos. It has to understand the establishment as well as the next generation of power players in a changing, more diverse capital. And oh, Playbook isn’t just the anchor morning newsletter; it engages with the DC community in many other ways, some that exist (such as events, afternoon newsletters, the audio brief) and others that we’ll roll out in the coming weeks.

When we sketched out these larger ambitions for Playbook, we realized we had to think big about who might take the franchise there.

In a first, Playbook will have its own dedicated, full-time editor and he happens to be one of our best: Mike Zapler. Mike will lead the team, oversee the daily content and work closely with other colleagues across the company to build out this franchise.

Mike is perfect for this role. He’s a sharp, exacting editor who has driven coverage of Washington’s power centers and knows how to land a big story. As deputy managing editor, Mike led the politics team with distinction for the last two years, and before that he ran our first-in-class Congress team. Mike joined POITICO as a tech reporter in 2011 from the San Jose Mercury News.

And now for our new Playbook team …

The authors bring a range and depth of experience that you won’t find anywhere else in Washington. And, as all of them were or are part of the POLITICO family, they should be very familiar to most of you.

Rachael Bade is a 10-year veteran of the congressional press corps, where her stories have illuminated the power struggles and personal dynamics animating the major policy clashes of Capitol Hill. She spent the past two years covering House Democrats’ oversight of the Trump administration for The Washington Post, where she routinely broke news on the party’s attempts to hold the president accountable as well as the historic impeachment effort. She is currently writing a book, “A Perfect Phone Call,” for HarperCollins’ William Morrow publishing house about how and why the first effort to oust Trump failed. Before joining the Post in early 2019, Rachael covered Congress for POLITICO, where she spent six years of her journalism career. From her vantage point on the Hill, she chronicled President Trump’s remaking of the GOP, churning out stories with behind-the-scenes details about the struggle between pro-Trump lawmakers and those fearful of the new direction of the party. Rachael is a political analyst for CNN. An Ohio native, she graduated from the University of Dayton with degrees in political science and communication and is a former classical ballet dancer.

Eugene Daniels will be a Playbook author, as well as a White House correspondent, with a focus on Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, the Second Gentleman and emerging power players in Washington. Since joining POLITICO in 2018, he’s covered the midterms, the Democratic presidential primary and general election through print, video journalism and podcasts. We expect Eugene to continue to leverage our many platforms as part of the Playbook team. During the country’s reckoning with race in 2020, Eugene moderated POLITICO’s Confronting Inequality Town Hall series that examined how inequities in policing, housing, healthcare, education and employment permeate and plague the United States. Prior to POLITICO, Eugene covered the 2016 primary, general election and national politics as a political reporter at Newsy. He began his career in local television in Colorado Springs and graduated from Colorado State University in 2012.

Ryan Lizza is chief Washington correspondent for POLITICO and covers presidential politics, Congress, and the White House. Since arriving in Washington in 1998, Lizza has written about national politics, policy and elections for Esquire, New York Magazine, GQ, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The New York Times and The Atlantic. Lizza, who is also a senior political analyst for CNN, has covered every presidential election since 2000, as well as the presidencies of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. His reporting on Obama won the White House Correspondents’ Association’s Aldo Beckman Award for presidential news coverage, and Lizza’s reporting on the Arab Spring won the National Press Club’s Edwin M. Hood Award for Diplomatic Correspondence. Lizza grew up in New York and is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.

Tara Palmeri is also back at POLITICO, having mostly recently been a White House correspondent for ABC News and the host and chief investigative reporter of two acclaimed Sony Music podcasts, “Broken: Seeking Justice” and “Power: The Maxwells,” Before all that, she was an original member of our Trump White House team and a CNN political analyst. She helped launch POLITICO Europe in Brussels, where she covered European politics and wrote the weekly Playbook Plus column with Ryan Heath. Tara’s work has taken her all over the world, from North Korea to Afghanistan to a little strip of land on the Danube River called “Liberland.” Tara’s been a columnist for New York Post’s “Page Six” and covered New York City Hall; she’s also written the Washington Examiner’s “Yeas & Nays” column. She graduated summa cum laude from American University in 2008.

The team will be supported by a pair of Playbook stalwarts, Eli Okun and Garrett Ross, who have been indispensable in producing the newsletter and writing the PM edition. Allie Bice, who has played an essential role in putting out our Transition Playbook each day, is joining the Playbook family full time as a third producer.

We’d also like to acknowledge the terrific work by the audio team on the Playbook Audio Briefing since Jan. 1, especially Adrienne Hurst as its narrator.

Playbook sits at the center of what we do here at POLITICO. Its greatness ultimately rests on the contributions made by the whole staff, and we’re grateful to everyone here for that.

Please join us in wishing the team the best of luck in their new professional adventure.




Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.