Here's an extremely simple rule for journalists wondering when to disclose that they're married to an influential government official: always. Always disclose that. This rule is, strangely, too complex for adult human Campbell Brown to understand.
Here's a much simpler rule: major media outlets, which have their pick of journalists, should hire journalists who are not married to influential government officials. That's pretty easy. If a journalist wants to get married to an influential government official, that's fine, but they can't be covering politics and government at the same time. "I don't care if you fuck an elephant, just so long as you don't cover the circus," as the old saying goes. Of course, we're talking about TV news—an industry in which Greta Van Susteren is gainfully employed—not "real" journalism, so this would be too much to ask. WHY WOULD ANYONE CARE THAT OSTENSIBLY IMPARTIAL JOURNALIST ANDREA MITCHELL IS MARRIED TO ALAN GREENSPAN, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT'S CRAZY.
Sorry. Our point today is that Campbell Brown, former CNN and NBC Weekend Today show anchor, married notable Republican mouthpiece and Romney advisor Dan Senor and then left CNN (due to low ratings), which is fine and all, but now Campbell Brown, former CNN and NBC Weekend Today show anchor, is quite RESENTFUL that commoners on the Twitter expect her to disclose that she sleeps with a paid Republican Party mouthpiece every time she writes some sort of political column thing. It's like, ugh, the tedium of disclosure.
Under the rubric of discussing her "mistakes" in figuring out this super-complicated disclosure thing, Campbell Brown takes to Slate to whine, at length, about people who called for her to disclose a salient fact. Such as:
Most recently an op-ed I wrote for the Wall Street Journal was critical of New York teachers unions for supporting a policy that makes it very hard to fire teachers who engage in inappropriate sexual behavior with children.In this case, I failed twice. The teachers union immediately pointed to my Romney tie (apparently in their view only a Romney supporter would oppose sexual predators in school?). They then rightly asserted that my husband serves on the board of StudentsFirst-New York, an education reform group that advocates for charter schools. He receives no money from the organization, yet the teachers unions blasted me for hiding this connection, and falsely accused me of a financial conflict of interest. Here I failed to disclose because I stupidly did not connect the teachers' unions' opposition to charter schools to their support for a system that protects teachers who engage in sexual misconduct. My sincerest apologies to the teachers unions for not fully appreciating how wrong they are on not one but two issues.
Asshole teachers unions, expecting standard journalistic disclosure of potential conflicts of interest! Where do they get off? Brown ends her piece with a snide little "He's a Jets fan, I'm a Giants fan" attempt at reductio ad absurdum that serves only to illustrate that adult human Campbell Brown is unwilling or unable to grasp a few very simple truths about journalism. Allow us to offer this guide:
1. Campbell Brown, you are hopelessly compromised by being married to the person you are married to, so do America a favor and leave journalism for another field. You can afford it.
2. If you choose to continue to write things about political issues, simply disclose.
3. You are a former TV journalist with a known "name," and that is the reason that papers like the NYT and the WSJ extend you the space to air your views. Celebrity. Not any pretense of "real journalism" credentials, or because newspaper editors said to themselves, "You know who we really need to hear from on this teachers union issue? Some retired cable news anchor." Celebrity. That is why you are given a platform. Not that you don't have viable thoughts, but so do thousands of other intelligent adults who are not offered the same platform. Given that, it's not too much to ask to disclose that you are married to a Romney advisor. So just disclose it graciously.
4. Or, better yet, let one of the one million journalists who are not married to influential government officials have your place. Graciously.
I'm sure you can still wrangle an invite to the White House Correspondents Dinner.
[Slate. Photo: Getty]