Senate Democrat Staffers
From JournoList to activist, it appears that WaPo‘s Progressive blogger Ezra Klein is once again blurring the lines between being a journalist and trying to sway politics. In what appears to be at a minimum a breach of journalism ethics, Klein spoke to a group of Senate Democrat Chiefs of Staff last Friday about the Supercommittee, just days before the Committee announced its failing. “It was kind of weird,” said a longtime Senate Democratic aide, explaining that while people “enjoyed it” and gave it “positive reviews” this sort of thing is far from typical.
A longtime Washington editor who deals with Capitol Hill regularly also said this is not the norm: “”I have never heard of a reporter briefing staffers. It’s supposed to be the other way around. This arrangement seems highly unusual.”
Klein’s speech to high-level Democrat aides was in the Capitol, closed door and off the record. It lasted 30 minutes. “I think they thought it was very helpful,” said the aide. “I think it’s unusual. What’s more common is to get someone like Paul Begala or a White House staffer. To get a journalist to talk is a little unusual.”
But then again, Klein is unusual.
In the summer of 2010, his exclusive partisan JournoList, a secretive listserv of some 400 members, collapsed as contents of the exchanges began leaking out. Journalists took hits for their participation, such as then WaPo‘s Dave Weigel, who quickly apologized on the newspaper’s blog for some of what he wrote. He was fired over the matter and is now at Slate. The Daily Caller reported extensively on the offending material. The end result: Klein shut the list down.
Briefings for journalists covering Capitol Hill are usually the reverse of what transpired here. Lawmakers brief reporters. Aides brief reporters. Think tanks brief reporters. Think tanks brief aides. But it is unheard of for reporters to brief aides.
Important questions to have answered: Was Klein strategizing with Democrats on messaging of the Supercommittee’s failure? What exactly was the purpose of the reporter’s speech?
WaPo Publicist Kris Coratti was queried on the issue to find out what the rules are on these sort of talks and if WaPo was even aware that Klein was giving the speech. She said she’d look into it.
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Editor's Note: It is well past time that We the People started holding the agendized mainstream media accountable for their lack of ethics and political collusion. Klein should be suspended until a full ombudsman investigation is completed. If he has been found to be in collusion with politicos he should be shunned by the journalism community in total, ala Jason Blair.
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