NPR Silent On Reporter Ari Shapiro Covering Obama White House While Spouse Works There
NPR’s rising young celebrity-like star Ari Shapiro, White House Correspondent, appears to be able to follow his own set of rules at NPR. As detailed in Newsbusters Wednesday, Shapiro will soon join vicious bomb-throwing activist and lefty partisan Democrat Dan Savage to promote Savage’s new book. Last May, when covering Romney, Shapiro slammed him as a bully on Twitter and Instagram with a carefully juxtaposed photo.
Now, as reported June 13 in The Washington Post by Paul Farhi (but relegated to the Style section), Shapiro’s spouse Michael Gottlieb has been working in the Obama White House Counsel’s office since April. Despite this, NPR has kept Shapiro in the same position as White House Correspondent and has never disclosed on-air or on its website this significant conflict of interest.
When Farhi asked NPR's Vice President of News Margaret Low Smith about Shapiro's conflict of interest, she weakly told Farhi that Shapiro wouldn’t cover anything about the White House Counsel’s office. Contrast that finely-tuned adjustment to the case of NPR's long-time news host Michele Norris. She herself informed NPR that her husband would be working for the 2012 Obama presidential campaign. NPR removed her entirely from the host position, even though as anchor, she would only occasionally briefly introduce stories related to the campaign and occasionally interview reporters covering the campaign--as opposed to Shapiro focusing almost exclusively on covering the White House.
NPR’s own ethics handbook demands a higher standard for its reporters:
To secure the public’s trust, we must make it clear that our primary allegiance is to the public. Any personal or professional interests that conflict with that allegiance, whether in appearance or in reality, risk compromising our credibility. We are vigilant in disclosing to both our supervisors and the public any circumstances where our loyalties may be divided - extending to the interests of spouses and other family members - and when necessary, we recuse ourselves from related coverage.
Unsurprisingly, Shapiro’s main NPR mentor has been Legal Affairs Correspondent and bias queen Nina Totenberg, who has also been granted wide berth by NPR to follow her own set of rules. As an ostensibly impartial reporter, Totenberg has been able to pursue multiple crusades against Republicans and rack up a long list of incendiary anti-Republican statements as a pundit on PBS —never with any pushback from NPR or apologies from Totenberg to those targeted (as opposed to NPR's analyst Juan Williams, who was warned and then fired for saying milder things on the hated Fox News). Like Shapiro, NPR allows Totenberg a disclosure-free conflict of interest: a personal friendship with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, someone she is supposed to cover impartially.