Welcome back to In The Room, my biweekly private email on the inner workings of the media industry. In tonight’s issue, we go inside Politico, which has regained some optimism and some swagger in the wake of its $1 billion sale to Axel Springer.
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Back in April, Axel Springer’s formidable chief executive Mathias Döpfner ventured to Washington for the annual White House Correspondents Dinner and a gauntlet of brunches, parties and meetings in an effort to familiarize himself with the insularity and narcissism of the American politico-media establishment. It was a heady time: Six months earlier, Döpfner had closed Axel’s $1 billion acquisition of Politico, the Beltway bible, giving his Berlin-based media conglomerate a strong foothold in D.C. and Brussels, and turbocharging his ambitions to turn Axel into the democratic world’s leading digital publisher.
Döpfner had already spent years extending his company’s presence in the U.S. market. Axel, after all, had acquired millennial-friendly...