On Clowns, Elephants, Maria, Todd, the Circus and Citi

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The rather under-whelming reaction in much of the media to the revelations about top dog CNBC reporter and "Closing Bell" anchor Maria Bartiromo's relationship with former Citigroup honcho Todd Thompson—today, for instance, the New York Post's Keith Kelly reveals that both Business Week and Reader's Digest are keeping Bartiromo on board as a columnist—brings to mind one of the first lessons we ever learned in journalism ethics.
It was Spring, the early nineteen nineties, Bill Clinton had recently been elected and we found ourselves living in Washington, DC and considering a career in political journalism. (We eventually recovered from that brief enthusiasm.) One day we were having lunch with an old-school newspaper editor who was, if we recall correctly, then working at Reader's Digest.
We asked about the "revolving door" problem—people from the political side becoming journalists once they are their patrons were voted out of office. Chris Matthews is now a prominent example at the type, but Pat Buchanan, Tim Russert and countless others have gone through the door. Some of them seem to be perpetually spinning in and out.
The weathered editor told us that he thought the problem was overblown. What's more, he said, former political staffers might have a kind of expertise and familiarity with the relevant players that a pure outsider would lack. They might add to the public understanding.
Which isn't to say that it couldn't be problematic. The real test was weather the journalists were truly independent of their old political ties or still serving or giving the appearance a politician or party.
"I don't care if you've got clowns covering the circus," the editor told us, "Just as long as they aren't still fucking the elephants."

Editors Still Sweet On Money Honey Maria
[New York Post]

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