Linda Douglass, the former ABC News and CBS News Washington correspondent who signed aboard the Obama campaign in May of 2008, is resigning next week from her post as Communications Director for the White House’s Health Reform Office, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reported Thursday afternoon on the paper's “44” blog (which I saw plugged on DCRTV.com). Kurtz described her as “a top pitchwoman for President Obama's health care plan.”
Is another media gig in the offing? No word yet. Kurtz quoted her statement, which only said she wants “to step off the treadmill for awhile and rediscover the experience of dining with my husband on a regular basis.”
Douglass, who appeared frequently on MSNBC's The Ed Show to disparage conservative criticism and champion ObamaCare, “said she will be 'cheering with pride from the sidelines as this historic law takes effect,'” Kurtz relayed. And maybe not really making a full break: “Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer says Douglass 'will continue to be a valued adviser to this President and this White House.'”
The former Chairman of the California Democratic Party was for some reason treated as a journalist during yesterday's White House press briefing, and used the opportunity to smear a prominent conservative blogger.
Bill Press, who chaired the California Democratic Party for a few years in the 1990s, and who now hosts a radio talk show, demonstrated his total lack of serious journalistic credibility at yesterday's briefing.
He misquoted RedState's Erick Erickson to make it seem as if he was encouraging the listeners of his radio show to not fill out the Census, and tried to turn Erickson's statement into an attack on CNN, who recently hired Erickson as a political correspondent.
In 2008, just four years after leaving NBC News, Jane Pauley gave the maximum allowed donation to Barack Obama ($2,300) and campaigned for him in her native Indiana where she proclaimed “I want to see the cool, steady hand of Barack Obama on that Bible on Inauguration Day” and predicted Obama will be “an exceptional” President, enthusing: “I so look forward to it!”
On Tuesday morning (March 9) Pauley reappeared on the Today show, which she co-hosted from 1976 to 1989 before spending more than a decade with Dateline NBC, as the narrator of a new monthly segment produced by the liberal AARP, “Your Life Calling Today,” about those 50-plus reinventing themselves. “We are welcoming back a very, underline ‘very’ good friend and familiar face around here, Jane Pauley,” Matt Lauer announced, explaining “she’s been working with AARP which has produced and sponsored a new series of reports for us.” Her first report looked at a woman who “left a lucrative career so she would have more time to knit socks.”
Not exactly hard-hitting political reporting, but it gives me a hook to share some 2008 video of Pauley praising Obama as she made appearances on his behalf. “Pauley called the last eight years a mistake and says America must make the right choice come election day,” WISH-TV channel 8 reporter Phil Sanchez related on the Indianapolis CBS affiliate’s Sunday, September 21, 2008 newscast. Just over a month later, following an event in Bloomington, sporting an Obama button she told Indiana University’s public TV station, WTIU:
Buried in a recent New York Times profile of senior White House advisor David Axelrod was this nugget of information: he used to be a reporter with the Chicago Tribune.
The fact is hardly a secret -- the White House notes Axelrod's brief stint at the Tribune on its website. But that bit of information was an interesting element of a predictably laudatory profile. One of President Obama's chief message-men was a political reporter for a major newspaper. Who knows better how to address journalists than a former journalist?
For its part, the Times skipped over any discussion of the significance of Axelrod's experience in journalism. The paper simply noted his former position in passing.
Not a move by a political correspondent, but it counts nonetheless. “Former Washington Post film critic Desson Thomson will join the Obama administration and head to London as a speechwriter for Ambassador Louis Susman,” a big Obama fundraiser, Washington Post “Federal Eye” blogger Ed O'Keefe reported on Monday in a post I saw highlighted on DCRTV.com.
O'Keefe elaborated: “Thomson, who grew up in Surrey, England, worked for The Post from 1983 to 2008, most recently as a film critic for the Weekend and Style sections.”
By O'Keefe's count, “Thomson is one of at least 14 journalists to join the Obama administration, with virtually all of them serving in a communications capacity,” and, intriguingly, O'Keefe asserted “other reporters at national outlets are known to be considering similar roles.”
Nine days after ABC announced on Good Morning America that financial correspondent Bianna Golodryga would be marrying top Obama official Peter Orszag, NBC’s Today made sure to highlight the revelation that the budget director has also fathered a child with his (now) ex-girlfriend. Good Morning America skipped this development, as did CBS’s Early Show.
Orszag, the director of the Office and Budget Management and his ex, Claire Milonas, released a statement on the birth of their daughter. In a possible attempt to embarrass rival GMA, Today touted the story with a graphic that screamed, "Oh Baby, Engaged Budget Czar Has Child With Other Woman."
Reporter Norah O’Donnell highlighted, "This comes just one week after the announcement that Orszag was getting engaged to ABC's Bianna Golodryga. She broke the news on national television." O'Donnell then played a clip of Golodryga discussing the engagement on GMA. NBC doesn’t often delight in awkward situations for the Obama administration. But the correspondent also added, "Simply put, this is an embarrassment for one of the President's top advisers and a member of his cabinet."
The official announcement will apparently come tomorrow morning (NewsBusters’ Scott Whitlock reported on the early leaks last week): former Clinton campaign operative George Stephanopoulos will start Monday as co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America. He’ll also keep his job as the host of ABC’s This Week, at least for the time being.
Here’s one yardstick for measuring the media’s response: Back in 1997, CBS announced that ex-GOP Representative Susan Molinari (pictured at right) would take over as co-host of Saturday Morning. Journalists quickly howled at the breaching of the sacred “barricade that is supposed to exist in journalism between the political people and the officials on the one hand, and the reporters on the other.” NPR’s Mara Liasson said it was “disturbing” of CBS to hire a Republican; Nina Totenberg exclaimed: “This really makes me want to puke.”
Molinari’s Saturday CBS show avoided politics, so she spent most mornings talking about movies and toys and vacation ideas. But according to the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz, “Stephanopoulos, now ABC's chief Washington correspondent, had told network executives he wanted to inject GMA with a harder-news focus as a condition of taking the job.”
Here's another entry for the revolving door file: Politico's Jonathan Allen (pictured at right), formerly of Congressional Quarterly and former Sen. Paul Sarbanes' office, will take over as the top staffer at Debbie Wasserman Schultz's DWS PAC, according to Roll Call (h/t e-mail tipster Bob Foster).
For his part, Allen, whose wife works as the communications director for freshman Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), found it an offer he couldn't refuse:
"I wouldn't go work for just anyone," Allen said. "She wanted me to come work for her, and it was impossible for me to say no. She has a heart of gold and resolve of steel. ... I find that inspiring."
Roll Call's Steven T. Dennis has the story here, but only the lead paragraph is available to non-subscribers. Below is an excerpt, courtesy of Foster:
The Daily Beast on Friday reported that former Democratic aide turned journalist George Stephanopoulos has now pulled ahead of ex-Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo’s son, Chris Cuomo, in the race to become the new co-host of Good Morning America. Correspondent Rebecca Dana quoted an ABC source as saying, "It’s George’s now to lose."
Dana added, "That both contenders are associated with prominent Democrats has helped to add a campaign vibe to the contest for Sawyer’s anchor chair." She then gossiped, "There is a rumor floating around ABC that Mario Cuomo has placed some calls on his son’s behalf..." (Chris Cuomo is also the brother of New York state’s current Democratic attorney general.)
If Stephanopoulos does become the new host of GMA, there would potentially be an opening at his old show, This Week. The Daily Beast asserted that the contenders are Jake Tapper and Nightline co-host Terry Moran, a well known liberal. On February 20, 2009, Moran famously provided this over-the-top comparison between Barack Obama and George Washington: "I like to say that, in some ways, Barack Obama is the first President since George Washington to be taking a step down into the Oval Office."
Steve Waldman, the "founding soul of Beliefnet" and a former Newsweek reporter and US News & World Report editor is now spinning through the revolving door into the Obama FCC, reports Cathy Lynn Grossman of USA Today:
Steven Waldman, founder, editor and leading political blogger of Beliefnet.com, the nation's top Internet spirituality site, is leaving for a post in the Obama administration.
He's posted a farewell letter on his blog calling this "the most difficult (and surreal) post I've had to write" as he departs to become senior adviser to new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski.
From liberal Democrat Howard Dean to top editor of the magazine which proclaims it has “The Website Washington Lives By.” The “preppy-looking 28-year-old” Garrett Graff “has eased his way up the ladder -- from presidential campaign speechwriter to media blogger, from Washingtonian freelancer to top dog -- with remarkable fluidity,” Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz marveled in a Monday “Style” section profile of Graff.
Kurtz outlined how, when his father was toiling in Montpelier for the AP, a 14-year-old Graff went to work in the summer for then-Governor Howard Dean, soon “building Dean's first Web site in 1997.” Graff got into Harvard and landed “Washington internships at ABC and the Atlantic” and “when Dean launched his presidential bid, Graff was his deputy national press secretary.” Then, “after Dean imploded, Graff moved to Washington and launched the Fishbowl DC blog for Media Bistro, showing a flair for self-promotion.”
In the midst of all the elite upset over the Fox News Channel's supposedly over-the-top opposition to President Barack Obama, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz pointed out in a Saturday story across the top of the “Style” section that the apparent two finalists to replace Diane Sawyer (who is moving to World News in January) on Good Morning America “have politics, but little else, in common.” Liberal Democratic politics, that is, since the two names in play are George Stephanopoulos and Chris Cuomo.
Kurtz began his October 24 story: “One helped elect a president, the other grew up as the son of a governor. Now George Stephanopoulos and Chris Cuomo are engaged in a very different kind of contest, for one of the most coveted prizes in network television.”
Roberta Baskin, a veteran of CBS News, ABC News, PBS and Washington, DC's ABC affiliate, with a stint at the Center for Public Integrity mixed in, “will join the Department of Health and Human Service's office of inspector general as a senior communications adviser in mid-August,” Washington Post “Federal Eye” blogger Ed O'Keefe reported late Monday. Specifically, O'Keefe related, her job will be “to help drum up media attention for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team, an HHS-Justice Department task force aimed at combating Medicare and Medicaid fraud.”
My list of journalists who have jumped to the Obama administration -- plus one who traveled through the revolving door from helping the Obama campaign into a news media slot -- is now up to thirteen. Not counting Baskin: Three each revolved through CNN and the Washington Post; two through ABC News; and one each via the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and Time magazine.
In an open letter sent today to ABC News President David Westin, NewsBusters.org Publisher Brent Bozell questioned the ethics of ABC as a "news" network and wondered "how in the world can anyone take ABC seriously" after it was announced that ABC News has hired Democratic donor Dr. Richard Besser to be their new Senior Medical Editor.
The letter begins here, and continues in its entirety below the fold.
July 30, 2009
Dear Mr. Westin,
It was reported today that you have hired Dr. Richard Besser as your new Senior Medical Editor. By now you also know Besser is a Barack Obama donor, having contributed $400 to his campaign in 2008.
As your new senior health correspondent, he will play a pivotal role in your coverage of the health care debate going forward. How in the world is this ethical?
ABC’s newly hired senior medical editor is also an Obama donor, having contributed $400 to the Democratic presidential candidate in 2008. TV Newser reported on Thursday that Dr. Richard Besser, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, would assume the position in September. A search on the website Open Secrets finds two donations by Dr. Besser on August 22, 2008.
As senior health correspondent, Dr. Besser can be expected to play a major role in ABC's coverage of the health care debate this fall.
Dr. Tim Johnson, who currently holds the position for ABC, has long been an advocate for government-run solutions to the health care problem in America. Going back to the last big push in the early '90s, he told then-First Lady Hillary Clinton on July 19, 1994: "So at least from the physicians represented here, you get a 100 percent vote, including mine, for universal coverage." Johnson will become the "chief medical editor" for ABC News.
With the revelation that Newsweek Washington bureau reporter Daren Briscoe will start a new job on Monday as Deputy Associate Director of Public Affairs for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (earlier NB item), my list of journalists who have jumped to the Obama administration -- plus one who traveled through the revolving door from helping the Obama campaign into a news media slot -- is up to a dozen:
Three each revolved through CNN and the Washington Post; two through ABC News; and one each via the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and Time magazine.
At least one media outlet is bucking the field's bleak economic outlook: The left-wing blog Talking Points Memo. On Monday, Noam Cohen reported in the New York Times that TPM has received funding from outside investors that will result in a doubling of staff, and may include some veteran mainstream journalists.
The political news Web site Talking Points Memo this weekend completed a round of investment, of $500,000 to $1 million. The move is intended to increase the number of employees, to roughly 20, from the current 11, in the next 10 months.
The financing is the first part of a three-year plan to increase the site's staff to 60 employees, Joshua Micah Marshall, the site's founder, said in an interview at his offices on West 20th Street in New York.
Marshall, who in TPM's early days (the blog was launched during the Florida recount fight of Election 2000) was less reflexively anti-Republican than today, has beefed up the once-humble blog to include TPM café, a discussion site, and TPM Muckraker, an investigative site almost exclusively devoted to conservative scandal-mongering.
Although the established media often rails against bloggers, Marshall is an exception. As Cohen reported back in February 2008, Marshall won the media's George Polk Award for legal reporting for his work on the Bush administration firing eight U.S. attorneys under what TPM and other liberals claimed were politically motivated circumstances -- a perfectly legal effort that was nonetheless considered scandalous by mainstream media.
The Washington Posts's first ever “chief digital officer” came aboard the newspaper, where he also oversees Newsweek's online efforts, after three years of working diligently to help elect liberals and Democrats to office -- including Barack Obama. A short profile of Vijay Ravindran, in the July issue of Washingtonian magazine, noted that “Democratic strategist and entrepreneur Harold Ickes,” a veteran of the Clinton administration and 1996 re-election campaign, enlisted “Ravindran to build Catalist, a national voter database for Democratic candidates and liberal organizations. From the fall of 2005 through the election of Barack Obama, Ravindran built systems for Catalist.” His title at Catalist: Chief Technology Officer.
Catalist, which dubs itself “The Future of Progressive Organizing,” lists a who's who of left-wing groups and causes on its client list, from ACORN and the AFL-CIO to Wellstone Action, with MoveOn.org, the National Resources Defense Council and Obama for America (the official Obama campaign) alphabetically in between.
In his Wednesday night “Media Mash” segment, FNC's Sean Hannity picked up on a Tuesday night NewsBusters post, “Third CNN Staffer Joins Obama's Team, As Does ABC Vet; Revolving Door Up to Ten,” about the latest journalists to spin through the revolving door to work in the Obama administration. Hannity informed his viewers of how the press corps are “losing three more of their own to the Obama administration. Now, at the outset of the President's term, several of the so-called objective journalists left their jobs to join the administration. Now NewsBusters.org points out that a few more are following suit.” Hannity named some names:
Senior CNN politics producer Sasha Johnson -- by the way, that makes her the third CNN staffer to join the President's team. Chicago Tribune reporter Jill Zuckman and veteran ABC News reporter Beverley Lumpkin. Now that brings the total number of so-called mainstream media journalists who have rushed to join the Obama administration to ten.
Following the path of CNN Middle East correspondent Aneesh Raman and producer Kate Albright-Hanna, who both jumped aboard the Obama campaign last year, senior political producer Sasha Johnson this week announced she's leaving the network's Washington bureau to take the Press Secretary slot at the Department of Transportation. She won't be the only media vet in that shop. As The Politico's Michael Calderone noted Monday night in reporting Johnson's move, former Chicago Tribune Washington correspondent Jill Zuckman “already headed to Transportation in February, becoming Director of Public Affairs and assistant to Secretary Ray LaHood.”
Plus, in the past month or so, two other DC journalists accepted administration positions. ABC's long-time Justice Department correspondent, Beverley Lumpkin, who mostly handled radio news, in April joined the very department she covered for so many years, prompting a Washington Post blogger to quip on Tuesday that she's “turning sources into colleagues.” Speaking of the Washington Post, its former science reporter, Rick Weiss, is now advancing Obama policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology.
So far, by my count, at least ten mainstream media journalists have revolved into positions toiling for the Obama campaign, transition or administration. And that doesn't count CNN's Sanjay Gupta, whom the administration courted for Surgeon General; nor long-time NBC News anchor and reporter Jane Pauley who campaigned for Obama last fall in her native Indiana.
It seems that the Washington Post will soon be welcoming ultra-liberal hack blogger Ezra Klein to their online operations. Klein has often been the subject of stories by NewsBusters. This is what the Politico reported on the Post's acquisition of Klein (h/t OTB):
The American Prospect's Ezra Klein, one of the top bloggers on politics and policy, is heading to the Washington Post.
Rumors about Klein's upcoming move spread on Wednesday night during a reception thrown by The Nation magazine in honor of D.C. bureau chief Chris Hayes.
A Post spokesperson confirmed to POLITICO this morning that Klein was hired as a blogger at washingtonpost.com and is expected to start in about a month.
The move continues a regrettable trend started with their hiring of Greg Sargent, who formerly worked for the far left Talking Points Memo, to run a blog at one of the Post's websites. The addition of Sargent, an accomplished hack in his own right, was covered by Tim Graham here at NewsBusters. Tim quickly identified it as yet another example of the revolving door between liberal organizations and the mainstream media:
The Obama White House is serving as a convenient new employer for members of the media as news outlets downsize, but would they have felt so comfortable coming aboard a GOP President's staff? The latest hires: Three news photographers -- from Time magazine, Cox Newspapers and U.S. News & World Report magazine -- are joining the team of photographers snapping pictures at events and meetings in and around the White House complex.
The chief White House photographer, Pete Souza, “announced the hires to PDN,” DCRTV.com reported Thursday in picking up the item from the week before on the Photo District News site. Souza had already tapped photographers from the McClatchy-Tribune News Service and the Associated Press.
Jumping ship from jobs-shedding print and broadcast outlets to Democratic campaigns or administrations seems to be the favored bailout package of liberal journalists these days.
The latest example comes today in a news release from the exploratory committee of Texas Democrat Tom Schieffer, younger brother to CBS "Face the Nation" host Bob "Boners" Schieffer. In an April 2 press release, the gubernatorial hopeful heartily welcomed longtime print journalist Clay Robison -- praising him as "a reporter's reporter" -- aboard his staff as Director of Communications (h/t NewsBusters contributor Seton Motley).:
Normally I wouldn't find a local market television reporter joining a gubernatorial campaign worth a post on a national blog like NewsBusters, but in this case the candidate is a very well-known national figure: Terry McAuliffe, the former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee who also chaired Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign last year and is a long-time Friend of Bill.
Dave Hughes reported Monday, on his DCRTV blog, that Allyson Wilson, a reporter and sometime anchor on Washington, DC's Fox-owned WTTG-TV/DT, “is leaving to join Democrat Terry McAuliffe's campaign for governor of Virginia. She'll be his deputy press secretary. Wilson is a native Washingtonian and a graduate of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.”
In case you were worried, former Time magazine staffer Jay Carney has "had very little trouble adapting" to his job as Vice President Biden's director of communications. From a recent interview with Washington Post's Mary Ann Akers published in the March 12 paper:
[Akers]: You left journalism after 20 years with Time. How is life on the other side?
Carney: It's great. I have had very little trouble adapting to this new role, which is completely different from what I was doing before.
Carney also insisted that while he was just sort of swept into the Obama administration during the post-election transition period, he never was a leg-thrilling puddle of drool like others in the media:
Joe Strupp at Editor & Publisher reports the revolving door between the media and government spun wildly out of the New Jersey Star-Ledger: "at least 16 reporters and newsroom staffers at The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., most of whom left the paper in the past year's massive buyout, are now working for public officials or state agencies the paper covers...With 151 newsroom staffers taking buyouts last October, out of 330 total, that figure represents about 10% of the departed reporters, although some left prior to that round of buyouts."
Topping that list is Deborah Howlett, a former statehouse reporter who is now Gov. Jon Corzine’s communications director. However, this is not Howlett’s first job in politics. We at MRC reported in 1990 that before joining USA Today, Howlett, spent four months in 1983 as Press Secretary to Oregon State Senator Margie Hendricksen, a Democrat who later opposed moderate-to-liberal GOP Sen. Mark Hatfield. The Almanac of American Politics blamed Hendricksen's loss on her "consistently liberal views" which, as The New Republic once noted, include favoring unilateral nuclear disarmament.
As the 1980s wound to a close, Howlett sneered at the Reagan '80s in a November 27, 1989 USA Today "news" story: "The '80s were the years of excess. We swaggered through the portals and grabbed as much as we could. We were greedy and gluttonous. As long as we wore starched shirts, we could belch at the dinner table. And Ronald Reagan led us."
In one of the most comical Politico stories I have ever encountered, several prominent journalists insisted that the revolving door between the media and liberal Democrats, especially Team Obama, is not a symptom of bias. Instead, they blamed the trend on the economy:
In three months since Election Day, at least a half-dozen prominent journalists have taken jobs working for the federal government.
Journalists, including some of those who’ve jumped ship, say it’s better to have a solid job in government than a shaky job — or none at all — in an industry that’s fading fast.
From the Revolving Door file: more liberal newspaper reporters are leaving their D.C. bureaus behind for jobs in Democratic politics. Scott Shepard of Cox Newspapers is joining the office of Sen. John Kerry as a speechwriter, while Chicago Tribune reporter Jill Zuckman is joining the Obama administration as a public-affairs officer for Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Shepard is the second newspaper reporter to accept a job with the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee in recent months. Former Los Angeles Times and New York Times reporter Douglas Frantz is now chief investigator on Kerry’s staff at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Michael Calderone, media reporter for the Politico newspaper, reported that both Shepard and Zuckman blamed financial troubles at their media companies as a factor in their decision to become federal employees.
A look at the MRC "Notable Quotables" archives show some clues that these reporters may have comfortably signed up for the Democrats. Shepard drew attention in 1994 for going beyond the facts to defend Clinton’s Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders:
Following the Media Research Center's ongoing call for an explanation of George Stephanopoulos's reported strategy conference calls with Democratic operatives Paul Begala and James Carville and White House Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel, the MRC has released a new Profile in Bias for the "This Week" host.
"[I]n his on-air role at ABC, Stephanopoulos has been a reliable mouthpiece for the Democratic spin of the day — using his perch as an analyst and correspondent to add an extra boost to liberals, undermine conservatives and push a liberal policy agenda," the profile notes before listing scores of examples, such this one from March 18, 2008, wherein Stephanopoulos lauded Obama for refusing to castigate his former pastor:
By refusing to renounce Reverend Wright, that was in many ways an act of honor for Senator Obama.
As we at NewsBusters have documented, ABC News executives have refused to directly confront the breach of journalistic ethics first reported in the January 27 Politico:
Time magazine's Jay Carney moved on to do communications work for Vice President Biden. CNN's Sanjay Gupta has been placed on Obama's short list for U.S. Surgeon General. Former ABC reporter Linda Douglass was an advisor on the Obama campaign and was slated to do PR work for Tom Daschle at HHS. [audio excerpt here]
Those are just three examples of the "media wing of the Democratic Party," MRC Director of Communications Seton Motley told viewers of the February 4 "Fox & Friends."
What's more, the revolving door between journalism and the staffs of liberal politicians is nothing new, Motley added that, "[i]n the first two years of the Clinton administration, 33 journalists joined the Clinton administration, so yes, there's a history of this."