Reporters Revolved Out of Newark Paper and Into Democrat Jobs

February 20th, 2009 10:05 PM

Joe Strupp at Editor & Publisher reports the revolving door between the media and government spun wildly out of the New Jersey Star-Ledger: "at least 16 reporters and newsroom staffers at The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., most of whom left the paper in the past year's massive buyout, are now working for public officials or state agencies the paper covers...With 151 newsroom staffers taking buyouts last October, out of 330 total, that figure represents about 10% of the departed reporters, although some left prior to that round of buyouts."

Topping that list is Deborah Howlett, a former statehouse reporter who is now Gov. Jon Corzine’s communications director. However, this is not Howlett’s first job in politics. We at MRC reported in 1990 that before joining USA Today, Howlett, spent four months in 1983 as Press Secretary to Oregon State Senator Margie Hendricksen, a Democrat who later opposed moderate-to-liberal GOP Sen. Mark Hatfield. The Almanac of American Politics blamed Hendricksen's loss on her "consistently liberal views" which, as The New Republic once noted, include favoring unilateral nuclear disarmament.

As the 1980s wound to a close, Howlett sneered at the Reagan '80s in a November 27, 1989 USA Today "news" story: "The '80s were the years of excess. We swaggered through the portals and grabbed as much as we could. We were greedy and gluttonous. As long as we wore starched shirts, we could belch at the dinner table. And Ronald Reagan led us."

E&P’s list of the Star-Ledger revolvers was overwhelmingly within the Democratic establishment in New Jersey:

-- Jeff Whelan, a former reporter who is now a research staffer with Gov. Jon Corzine's re-election campaign.

-- Matt Reilly, a former deputy statehouse bureau chief who became communications director for the state Senate Democrats.

-- Kathy Barrett Carter, a former statehouse reporter and editorial writer who is a policy communications staffer in the governor's office.

-- Joe Donohue, a former reporter working at the state treasurer's office.

-- David Wald, a former political columnist who is now a communications director for the state Attorney General.

-- Donna Leusner, a former reporter who is now a spokesperson for the State Health Department.

-- Tom Feeney, a former reporter who became a spokesman at the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

-- Paul Wyckoff, a former reporter and editorial writer who is now a New Jersey Transit spokesman.

-- Ron Marsico, a former reporter who covered transportation is now a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

-- Wayne Woolley, a former military affairs reporter, who is a spokesman for the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Diane Walsh, a former reporter, was the exception: she’s now working as press secretary for state Republican Assemblyman Jon Bramnick.

[Hat tip; Dan Gainor]