New York Times Hires Reporting Intern Who Wrote for Obama Surrogates In 2012 Campaign

June 24th, 2014 8:46 AM

Theodore "Teddy" Schleifer is a reporting intern for The New York Times. But he already has a resume as a Democratic staffer going back to high school, including the last Obama-Biden campaign. Paul Farhi of The Washington Post captured the controversy after Schleifer tackled the Mississippi GOP Senate primary.

“The incestuous relationship between the mainstream media and Democratic Party has headed down to Mississippi,” Erick Erickson wrote on “Schiefer [sic] . . . is also quite proud of [an earlier] hit piece on then Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels [written for his college newspaper]. He seems like he’ll be a good liberal reporter. Obama connections and the New York Times tend to go hand in hand these days.”

Schliefer declined to comment, referring questions to Philip B. Corbett, associate managing editor for standards at the Times. In an e-mail exchange, Corbett said Schliefer disclosed his work for Democrats “in detail” to Corbett and his editors in Washington before beginning his internship.

“We are confident that his work for us is solid, accurate and fair, and that we can avoid any potential conflicts of interest,” Corbett said.

Asked if readers would feel the same way if they were aware of Schliefer’s background, Corbett replied: “I hope and expect that fair-minded readers will perceive our coverage as fair and accurate. As I said, we are comfortable with Teddy’s work and his assignments.”

Schliefer’s résumé, posted on his Web site, says he was a speechwriting intern for Obama during the 2012 campaign. His duties included drafting “talking points and speeches for surrogates, including a dozen introductions of the president that grassroots supporters used to introduce him at campaign rallies,” according to the document.

Schliefer, who graduated from Princeton University in June, also was a speechwriting intern in the summer of 2011 for the Department of Education, during which he “authored 20 speeches, talking points, and scripts for Secretary Arne Duncan and surrogates, including a major speech on teacher professionalism and a commencement address. Communicated with policy, research and press staffs to coordinate messaging and language,” according to the document.

He was also a summer speechwriting intern for Delaware Gov. Jack Martell (D) in 2009, a job he describes this way: “As the only high school intern in the office, drafted speeches and talking points for the Governor, serving beneath his Chief Strategist, and wrote press releases under the supervision of his Communications Director.”

From my limited experience as a press secretary under 25, I don't think being a high school speechwriting intern gives you a lot of communicating power. But it does show serious Democratic careerism.

Schleifer's Twitter page announces he's headed to the Houston Chronicle next as a Hearst Fellow. At least it's possible that Schleifer will turn out to be a journalist in his whole professional life after college -- unlike the mid-career Chelsea Clintons and the Stephanopouli.