Workers in news organizations ranging from the New York Times to NBC News are making donations to President Obama's re-election campaign even though many companies forbid employees to do so for fear that such contributions will raise questions about the staff's impartiality.
According to an article by Alex Pappas, the Daily Caller looked for donations to Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney by searching the names of more than two dozen news organizations on the Federal Election Commission website.
Two persons who have made such contributions are Sally Singer, editor of “T: The New York Times Style Magazine,” who donated $500 to Obama in January, and John Stickney, a senior editor for the New York Times Syndicate, who contributed $300 in December.
Those donations were uncovered by blogger Michael Petrelis in May when Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy responded that the company’s corporate policy “requires that any employee involved in the planning, creation or oversight of news and editorial content not give money to any political candidate or election cause.”
“In this case, he made this donation without direct knowledge of that policy,” Murphy said of Stickney. “He is now aware of the policy and sincerely regrets having made the donation.”
The spokeswoman added that Singer inadvertently donated to Obama’s campaign by attending a fashion event that she didn’t realize was a fundraiser:
Sally Singer’s donation was to a fashion industry event. When she realized that the event was a fundraiser for the Obama re-election campaign, she asked for and had her money returned.
Another contributor to the current White House resident is Jennifer Granholm, the former Democratic governor of Michigan who now hosts “The War Room” on the liberal Current TV channel. She has donated twice to Obama’s campaign, $1,000 on March 8 and $500 on March 29.
According to a press contact at the channel -- which was founded by former Vice President Al Gore -- the donations don’t pose any problems because they “have no policies at all dictating political contributions.”
Current spokeswoman Laura Nelson added:
We are not in the news-gathering business, but rather in the news-analysis business. If you watch the governor’s show, I think it would come as no surprise to anyone that she is an Obama supporter.
At NBC News, an employee named Thomas Baer gave $250 to Obama in May, according to donor records.
When asked for a response, an NBC spokesman stated: “It is against NBC News policy for full-time employees to make contributions to political campaigns.”
Reporters with smaller outlets in the nation's capital have given to Obama’s campaign as well. Elizabeth Wiener of the Washington D.C.-based community Current newspapers donated $500 to Obama in May and then again in June, according to the records.
In an email, Wiener asserted that she covers local news in Washington and hasn’t “donated to or participated in a local campaign since I got this job.”
“I (and my paper) don’t cover national politics and would be curious why you think it might be inappropriate to donate to a national candidate,” Wiener noted.
Discoveries that news employees gave money to political candidates have led to serious repercussions in the past for some high-profile television hosts.
As NewsBusters reported in November of 2010, Keith Olbermann -- then of MSNBC -- was suspended after giving money to Democratic congressional candidates.
However, Democrats aren't the only ones getting in trouble for making such donations while working at the liberal cable network. “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough was suspended during the same month for making eight previously undisclosed donations to Republican candidates.