On Tuesday morning (March 9) Pauley reappeared on the Today show, which she co-hosted from 1976 to 1989 before spending more than a decade with Dateline NBC, as the narrator of a new monthly segment produced by the liberal AARP, “Your Life Calling Today,” about those 50-plus reinventing themselves. “We are welcoming back a very, underline ‘very’ good friend and familiar face around here, Jane Pauley,” Matt Lauer announced, explaining “she’s been working with AARP which has produced and sponsored a new series of reports for us.” Her first report looked at a woman who “left a lucrative career so she would have more time to knit socks.”
Not exactly hard-hitting political reporting, but it gives me a hook to share some 2008 video of Pauley praising Obama as she made appearances on his behalf. “Pauley called the last eight years a mistake and says America must make the right choice come election day,” WISH-TV channel 8 reporter Phil Sanchez related on the Indianapolis CBS affiliate’s Sunday, September 21, 2008 newscast. Just over a month later, following an event in Bloomington, sporting an Obama button she told Indiana University’s public TV station, WTIU:
Buried in a recent New York Times profile of senior White House advisor David Axelrod was this nugget of information: he used to be a reporter with the Chicago Tribune.
The fact is hardly a secret -- the White House notes Axelrod's brief stint at the Tribune on its website. But that bit of information was an interesting element of a predictably laudatory profile. One of President Obama's chief message-men was a political reporter for a major newspaper. Who knows better how to address journalists than a former journalist?
For its part, the Times skipped over any discussion of the significance of Axelrod's experience in journalism. The paper simply noted his former position in passing.
Not a move by a political correspondent, but it counts nonetheless. “Former Washington Post film critic Desson Thomson will join the Obama administration and head to London as a speechwriter for Ambassador Louis Susman,” a big Obama fundraiser, Washington Post “Federal Eye” blogger Ed O'Keefe reported on Monday in a post I saw highlighted on DCRTV.com.
O'Keefe elaborated: “Thomson, who grew up in Surrey, England, worked for The Post from 1983 to 2008, most recently as a film critic for the Weekend and Style sections.”
By O'Keefe's count, “Thomson is one of at least 14 journalists to join the Obama administration, with virtually all of them serving in a communications capacity,” and, intriguingly, O'Keefe asserted “other reporters at national outlets are known to be considering similar roles.”
My Revolving Door list from late July of last year when it stood at 12. MRC BiasAlert item updated with a 13th revolver.
Nine days after ABC announced on Good Morning America that financial correspondent Bianna Golodryga would be marrying top Obama official Peter Orszag, NBC’s Today made sure to highlight the revelation that the budget director has also fathered a child with his (now) ex-girlfriend. Good Morning America skipped this development, as did CBS’s Early Show.
Orszag, the director of the Office and Budget Management and his ex, Claire Milonas, released a statement on the birth of their daughter. In a possible attempt to embarrass rival GMA, Today touted the story with a graphic that screamed, "Oh Baby, Engaged Budget Czar Has Child With Other Woman."
Reporter Norah O’Donnell highlighted, "This comes just one week after the announcement that Orszag was getting engaged to ABC's Bianna Golodryga. She broke the news on national television." O'Donnell then played a clip of Golodryga discussing the engagement on GMA. NBC doesn’t often delight in awkward situations for the Obama administration. But the correspondent also added, "Simply put, this is an embarrassment for one of the President's top advisers and a member of his cabinet."
Here’s one yardstick for measuring the media’s response: Back in 1997, CBS announced that ex-GOP Representative Susan Molinari (pictured at right) would take over as co-host of Saturday Morning. Journalists quickly howled at the breaching of the sacred “barricade that is supposed to exist in journalism between the political people and the officials on the one hand, and the reporters on the other.” NPR’s Mara Liasson said it was “disturbing” of CBS to hire a Republican; Nina Totenberg exclaimed: “This really makes me want to puke.”
Molinari’s Saturday CBS show avoided politics, so she spent most mornings talking about movies and toys and vacation ideas. But according to the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz, “Stephanopoulos, now ABC's chief Washington correspondent, had told network executives he wanted to inject GMA with a harder-news focus as a condition of taking the job.”
Here's another entry for the revolving door file: Politico's Jonathan Allen (pictured at right), formerly of Congressional Quarterly and former Sen. Paul Sarbanes' office, will take over as the top staffer at Debbie Wasserman Schultz's DWS PAC, according to Roll Call (h/t e-mail tipster Bob Foster).
For his part, Allen, whose wife works as the communications director for freshman Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), found it an offer he couldn't refuse:
"I wouldn't go work for just anyone," Allen said. "She wanted me to come work for her, and it was impossible for me to say no. She has a heart of gold and resolve of steel. ... I find that inspiring."
Roll Call's Steven T. Dennis has the story here, but only the lead paragraph is available to non-subscribers. Below is an excerpt, courtesy of Foster:
The Daily Beast on Friday reported that former Democratic aide turned journalist George Stephanopoulos has now pulled ahead of ex-Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo’s son, Chris Cuomo, in the race to become the new co-host of Good Morning America. Correspondent Rebecca Dana quoted an ABC source as saying, "It’s George’s now to lose."
Dana added, "That both contenders are associated with prominent Democrats has helped to add a campaign vibe to the contest for Sawyer’s anchor chair." She then gossiped, "There is a rumor floating around ABC that Mario Cuomo has placed some calls on his son’s behalf..." (Chris Cuomo is also the brother of New York state’s current Democratic attorney general.)
If Stephanopoulos does become the new host of GMA, there would potentially be an opening at his old show, This Week. The Daily Beast asserted that the contenders are Jake Tapper and Nightline co-host Terry Moran, a well known liberal. On February 20, 2009, Moran famously provided this over-the-top comparison between Barack Obama and George Washington: "I like to say that, in some ways, Barack Obama is the first President since George Washington to be taking a step down into the Oval Office."
Steve Waldman, the "founding soul of Beliefnet" and a former Newsweek reporter and US News & World Report editor is now spinning through the revolving door into the Obama FCC, reports Cathy Lynn Grossman of USA Today:
Steven Waldman, founder, editor and leading political blogger of Beliefnet.com, the nation's top Internet spirituality site, is leaving for a post in the Obama administration.
He's posted a farewell letter on his blog calling this "the most difficult (and surreal) post I've had to write" as he departs to become senior adviser to new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski.
Grossman's brief October 28 Faith & Reason blog post failed to mention Waldman's stint in the Clinton administration, but then again Waldman's Beliefnet blogger bio page also leaves out his work as senior advisor to the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service -- the bureaucracy that runs AmeriCorps -- during the Clinton administration.
Kurtz outlined how, when his father was toiling in Montpelier for the AP, a 14-year-old Graff went to work in the summer for then-Governor Howard Dean, soon “building Dean's first Web site in 1997.” Graff got into Harvard and landed “Washington internships at ABC and the Atlantic” and “when Dean launched his presidential bid, Graff was his deputy national press secretary.” Then, “after Dean imploded, Graff moved to Washington and launched the Fishbowl DC blog for Media Bistro, showing a flair for self-promotion.”
Kurtz began his October 24 story: “One helped elect a president, the other grew up as the son of a governor. Now George Stephanopoulos and Chris Cuomo are engaged in a very different kind of contest, for one of the most coveted prizes in network television.”
My list of journalists who have jumped to the Obama administration -- plus one who traveled through the revolving door from helping the Obama campaign into a news media slot -- is now up to thirteen. Not counting Baskin: Three each revolved through CNN and the Washington Post; two through ABC News; and one each via the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and Time magazine.
For the full list, check the July 29 NewsBusters item: “Revolving Door from Journalism to Team Obama Now Up to a Dozen.”
In an open letter sent today to ABC News President David Westin, NewsBusters.org Publisher Brent Bozell questioned the ethics of ABC as a "news" network and wondered "how in the world can anyone take ABC seriously" after it was announced that ABC News has hired Democratic donor Dr. Richard Besser to be their new Senior Medical Editor.
The letter begins here, and continues in its entirety below the fold.
July 30, 2009
Dear Mr. Westin,
It was reported today that you have hired Dr. Richard Besser as your new Senior Medical Editor. By now you also know Besser is a Barack Obama donor, having contributed $400 to his campaign in 2008.
As your new senior health correspondent, he will play a pivotal role in your coverage of the health care debate going forward. How in the world is this ethical?