Full Disclosure

A couple of weeks ago, Slate’s Mickey Kaus set off a mild string of firecrackers among the huffier “serious journalism” fetishists by noting on his blog that he’d donated $300 to John Kerry’s campaign.

Good for Kaus. Damn good for Kaus.

No, not for the donation (it’s his money, and he can do what he wants with it, including giving it to a guy he can’t stand), but for doing what every other political reporter in the country ought to be doing: admitting up-front which side he’s on.

It’s a hard-and-fast ethical standard among financial reporters and columnists that they disclose any personal stake they have in companies, funds, or people that they’re covering. Why should news writers be any different? Would the republic collapse if Peter Jennings announced that he wouldn’t vote for George W. Bush even if he were offered a lifetime supply of aged Coulommiers brie? Would Jennings’ viewers really be so mis-served to know in straightforward terms where he’s coming from?

If James Glassman is expected to reveal in every column which companies he’s invested in, why shouldn’t Dana Milbank and Adam Nagourney have full-disclosure blurbs about how they voted in the last couple of elections, to say nothing about how they plan to vote this year? Is there any good reason why not?

Other than all those reporters not being honest enough to admit where their sensibilities lie?

Mickey Kaus is one of the best damn political reporters on the planet, and it didn’t take one iota away from his reputation when he put his cards on the table. If anything, it added to Kaus’ trustworthiness. His collegues, especially those in the mis-named “prestige” press, would do very well to follow his example.

Along those lines, here’s my humbly-submitted full disclosure for the day: I’ll be voting for Herman Cain in tomorrow’s Georgia Senate primary.

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10 Responses to “Full Disclosure”

  1. Mike M Says:

    I got a good laugh by going to opensecrets.org (website that documents political donations), and doing the “occupation/employer” search for campaign donations.

    I put in “journalist”, “New York Times”, etc…and just saw the hits pop up for Kerry, Barbara Boxer, Howard Dean…

    This would make a great research project.

  2. HoosierDave Says:

    Will, your premise is right on the money, but as for Milbank, you only have to read his columns to know where he’s coming from. He is so obviously pulling for ABB that his admitting it would be superfluous.

  3. Outside The Beltway Says:

    Full Disclosure for Journalists

    Will Collier, remarking on Mickey Kaus’ admission that he donated $300 to the Kerry campaign, wonders why such disclosures aren’t standard practice.

    It’s a hard-and-fast ethical standard among financial reporters and columnists that they disclose…

  4. Frank Martin Says:

    If the CNBC reporters and the rest of the financial reporters caught hell in the late 1990’s over having owned stocks that they were hawking on TV, then why shouldnt reporters reporting on politics have to disclose who is in their portfolios?

  5. Vince Says:

    Hey Will, Why Hermain Cain?

  6. b-psycho Says:

    I’m curious about that too. Any particular reason for Cain?

    I haven’t been paying much attention to the GA senate race myself, all I know is whoever the Dems pick is screwed.

  7. Will Collier Says:

    Check the top of the page, I posted some info and opinions about the GA senate race…

  8. Phlegma weblog Says:

    Full Disclosure for Journalists

    Will Collier has got an interesting post today about Journslists and whether they should disclose what they have voted the last elections. It’s a hard-and-fast ethical standard among financial reporters and columnists that they disclose any personal st…

  9. MarkD Says:

    The irony of it is, Kaus has been one of the Media’s biggest critics of Kerry. My inner cynic tells me he confessed to giving money to Kerry to establish his liberal “street-cred” so he won’t get slammed as part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy for all the Kerry-bashing he’s been doing.

  10. PressThink Says:

    Unity and the Ovation for John Kerry: Letters to the Debate, 1-3

    Here’s my letter to Romenesko and Instapundit and one from a journalist, Linda Picone, former Star Tribune. Me: “Diversity hiring assumes that minority journalists will exert and express themselves within the profession.” Picone: “I wonder why anyon…

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