In Monday's Los Angeles Times, reporter James Rainey raised the issue of a conflict between political reporting and family ties: "Some of America's most prominent political journalists are, quite literally, wedded to the 2008 presidential race: Their spouses work for one of the candidates." Rainey made a short list of four of the conflicted:
-- Los Angeles Times political reporter Ronald Brownstein recently began a new assignment as a columnist for the newspaper's opinion and editorial pages after his bosses banned him from writing news stories about the presidential race. The Times was seeking to avoid the appearance of a conflict: Brownstein is married to Eileen McMenamin, chief spokeswoman for Sen. John McCain, a candidate for the Republican nomination.
-- Matthew Cooper, the former Time magazine correspondent who was a witness in the recent trial of former vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, says he hasn't figured out exactly how to cope with the fact that his wife, Mandy Grunwald, is a chief ad strategist in Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign for the Democratic nomination. Now Washington editor for Portfolio magazine, Cooper said he expects to write about Clinton and "to acknowledge my wife works for Hillary … at least on Hillary-centric stories."
-- Nina Easton, Fortune magazine Washington bureau chief and Fox News analyst, said she would not write stories centering on McCain's campaign, because her husband, Russ Schriefer, is plotting media strategy for McCain. When appearing on Fox, she said, she plans at least occasional disclaimers to tell TV viewers she is married to a McCain advisor.
-- NBC's Campbell Brown will continue to cover politics after her husband rejected overtures to join the campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican presidential candidate. Dan Senor, a former White House aide and once top spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, opted to start a private firm, partly so his wife would not face a conflict.
Rainey did later add that Brownstein and Easton used to be married to each other, and now both have spouses in the McCain campaign. The weirdest line from Rainey was this one: "Journalism critics say the public's skepticism toward the media has been heightened by recent events, particularly the Libby trial, which revealed a cozy relationship between Washington journalists and their sources."
As if those demonized Plame-leakers could be romantically leaked to liberal reporters?