No, this is not dotCommonweal’s first invocation of Paris Hilton. I’m referring instead to one of those other “what-were-they-thinking” stories last week, this one from MSNBC. (HT to “Get Religion”) Investigative reporter Bill Dedman tracked down campaign contributions made by journalists to candidates over the past several years. At first I thought they must all be TV types, as they are the only journos with enough disposable income to write a check to a political campaign. But then I perused the list, and it wasn’t pretty, at least to my mind. I have enough Puritan DNA left to bleed into my journalistic ethics that I register as an independent. So contributing to a politician wouldn’t even occur to me, and I still don’t think it should occur to any journalist. And if it did, they should be barred from writing for the news pages, at least.
On the other hand, Dedman contacted many of the journalists for an explanation of their decision. Many did not respond, others said they regretted the decision on reflection. Interestingly, the longest exchange is with Margot Patterson of the National Catholic Reporter. I’m not sure why Dedman included a Catholic publication and, for that matter, why there weren’t others from other sectarian publications. But Patterson was not backing down: She said her position was more honest than the “hypocrisy” of reporters who take positions but don’t back them up with donations.
Hmmm…I’ll stick with Caesar’s wife on this one, and keep my critics guessing.