Boston Globe reporter Eric Moskowitz quotes me in his story today on WBZ-TV (Channel 4) political analyst Jon Keller‘s family tie to Republican congressional candidate Jim Ogonowski. Keller’s son Barney is Ogonowski’s spokesman, which has raised questions as to whether Jon Keller has a conflict in covering the race involving Ogonowski, Democrat Niki Tsongas and three minor-party and independent candidates.
Moskowitz represents me accurately, so no need to belabor this. But I do want to expand just a bit on the points I made to him yesterday:
- There’s no conflict quite like having a spouse involved in a campaign you’re covering, and that’s not what we’re talking about here. No one has any control over what his or her adult kids do, and it’s just not that big a deal. Moskowitz seemed surprised when I told him that, and asked whether it would be natural to think Jon Keller would want Ogonowski to win because of Barney’s involvement. My response: no.
- Some degree of disclosure is appropriate, and Keller has been doing that. I don’t think he has to disclose every time, but he should remind people now and again that his son is working for Ogonowski.
- The reputation of the reporter has to be part of this, which is what I was referring to in my quote that not everything is a “one size fits all” situation. If anyone has a reputation as an equal-opportunity abuser of politicians, it’s Keller. It’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t go after Ogonowski if he had a reason to do so — although perhaps in some people’s minds that’s offset by the fact that Keller is somewhat conservative by Massachusetts standards.
As I also told Moskowitz, Keller’s a friend. It doesn’t affect my thinking on this, but it’s something you should know. And, yes, I recommend his book, “The Bluest State.”