Carol Platt Liebau: Media Incest

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Media Incest

This piece offers insight into the way that Washington works. Note how many journalists' spouses are on the payrolls of various political campaigns -- and how easily the journalists themselves, and their employers, seem able to dismiss the potential conflicts that these relationships can cause.

Ron Brownstein, for example -- whose wife is John McCain's communications director -- seems to think that the problem is solved if he switches over from news reporting to a political column. But that only gets him half the way home, I'd think -- doesn't he have an obligation to disclose that his wife is a McCain employee even in the context of expressing his opinions about McCain?

The whole matter is another testament to journalists' apparent belief that they, unlike other mortals, can separate their personal interests from their professional ones.

Oh, and it's noteworthy that left-leaning journalists have spouses on the McCain payroll. Certainly, spouses can disagree about politics -- but let's just stipulate that there are very, very few political "odd couples" like Mary Matalin and James Carville.


Blogger stackja1945 said...

MSM contemplates its navel again. Or is the MSM thinking a little lower in its anatomy contemplation?

1:04 AM  
Blogger HouseOfSin said...

Carol - I agree that these pundits should make the proper disclosures. I wish that political players and media players stayed in their own universes and stopped crossing over - especially back toward the media.

That said, I think that you (and many others) are reading more into disclosures than is necessary.

I agree with a pundit or I disagree. Or, more more rewardingly, I consider a point of view that I previously hadn't. I have never had any of these outcomes (agree, disagree, reconsider) hinge on who worked for whom or is married to whom.

Consider Brownstein. First off, he's one guy. I can't remember my opinion of an issue ever hinging on the opinion of one guy (or woman). But that may change - you have much blogging to do! Second, his insights are supposedly sound enough to merit a column, and his beloved's sound enough to merit consultancy. So what it says is - the couple's insights are sound. So?

Where disclosures are really important is in the doctor's office. If a doctor offers a drug, I feel a right to know that a drug company has paid dearly to have that drug mentioned as an option. Likewise, I try to disclose everything under the sun to a doctor, in the hopes that it may help with an ailment.

Politics though - it should be different and it bugs me, but not all that much.

7:47 AM  

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