Bush, Hitler and political contributions

MSNBC.com’s Bill Dedman, a former Globe reporter and the creator of this gift to journalism, has weighed in with a piece identifying 144 journalists who’ve made political contributions since 2004. Here’s the most amazing paragraph:

“Probably there should be a rule against it,” said New Yorker writer Mark Singer, who wrote the magazine’s profile of Howard Dean during the 2004 campaign, then gave $250 to America Coming Together and its get-out-the-vote campaign to defeat President Bush. “But there’s a rule against murder. If someone had murdered Hitler — a journalist interviewing him had murdered him — the world would be a better place. I only feel good, as a citizen, about getting rid of George Bush, who has been the most destructive president in my lifetime. I certainly don’t regret it.”

Wow.

In case you’re wondering, there’s not much exciting to report locally. The biggest name is Liz Walker, a former anchor for WBZ-TV (Channel 4), who donated to Hillary Clinton and a couple of other Democratic women.

Though most observers will probably focus on the fact that the vast majority of the contributions tilted liberal/ Democratic (or, in Singer’s imagination, anti-Nazi), what amazes me is that journalists would make political contributions to anyone. There are two reasons not to do this: (1) you shouldn’t; (2) therefore you can always tell people that you can’t.

For my, uh, money, Rule #2 is one of the few perks we enjoy.

10 thoughts on “Bush, Hitler and political contributions

  1. Jim

    It’s appalling. As small a percentage as this is of working journalists (looks like he stuck to major metros, plus radio and TV, not community dailies and weeklies, for instance), any percentage is a bad idea, and journalists who don’t see that are, well, part of the reason many are down on journalism: they see it as biased. Donations dump kerosene on that flame.The other appalling aspects are how many of the donating journalists refused to talk to Dedman about it – including the one fella, from the Lexington paper, who ordered Dedman not to use his name because he wasn’t “comfortable” with being in the story – and how many organizations one might have thought of as journalistic don’t prohibit political donations. But, oh boy, many may now consider it.

  2. Don (no longer) Fluffy

    Good grief, hasn’t “Deadhead” heard of Bill (The Adulterer) Clinton whose inattention to the Islamic threat got us into this mess to begin with?

  3. Rick in Duxbury

    Blazing new trails in cluelessness, “(Randy) Cohen said he thought of MoveOn.org as nonpartisan and thought the donation would be allowed even under the strict rule at the (N.Y.)Times”…. “In addition to the syndicated column “The Ethicist” for the Times Magazine, Cohen answers ethics questions for listeners of NPR.” Well, that explains a lot!

  4. Rick from Dorchester

    The fallout begins…from the SpokesmanReview.com about Randy Cohen “Features Editor Ken Paulman, who moved our popular Wheel Life column to the Sunday Travel section in part to make room for Cohen, spoke for the newsroom this morning when he said it would by hypocritical of us to run an ethics column by a journalist who is in violation of our own ethics policy. Had he been a Spokesman-Review staff member, he would have faced suspension, at least, for his misstep.So, we’re dropping the column. We’ll look elsewhere for a publishable ethicist.”

  5. Anonymous

    But did you read the list? a good chunk of the people were sports reporters, fashion reporters, arts critics, and graphics designers. Sorry, someone on the news side should not contribute, but I’m not as concerned about the classical music critic.Anyone who has any influence — and copy editors are among them — should be taken to the woodshed.But the others, meh.

  6. Anonymous

    Arts reporters, of course, don’t cover political races, but they certainly cover political issues, such as Michael Moore’s “Sicko.” And even the classical music critic presents a problem for the managers at news orgs., who will be beaten up for bias by their staff — because the bloggers won’t make the fine distinction you’re making.

  7. Rick in Duxbury

    Good for SpokesmanReview.com. Intellectual honesty should be applauded. Now perhaps the WSJ names that appeared will dispel the canard that the editorial page of the Journal seeps into news like a certain Boston paper I can think of…

  8. Anonymous

    Re: Randy Cohen’s contribution to Moveon.com: I’m surprised there’s been so little comment on the ethics of Cohen’s laughably disingenuous claim that he didn’t think the contribution violated the NYT policy (rather than doing the right thing and admitting his guilt and copping to disagreeing with the policy enough to flout it). What kind of idiots does he think his editors and readers are to give that response?

  9. Scott Allen Miller

    For the record, I blogged about political contributions to Deval Patrick by Liz Walker, WCVB-TV meteorologist Dick, and WBUR-FM’s Chris Lydon last fall. Coincidentally, a few days later the Herald ran the exact same info I blogged and broadcast. I also broke the info about Liz’s Presidential campaign contributions in a follow up blog. Besides contributing to Hillary while working as a sitting news anchor for WBZ-TV, Liz Walker also donated to Jesse Jackson’s campaign in 1988 while working as a reporter.I was personally attacked as a partisan shill for putting this info out there. I would have also listed political contributions to Republicans from local TV journalists… but I couldn’t find any.

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