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Monday, August 4, 2008

Conflicts of Interest

Yes, there's a reason I chose that screengrab to head the post, but let's get back to that in a minute. First, some clips from earlier in the week.

Nic Robertson was at The Hague this week, covering the arrival of Radovan Karadzic and the start of his trial for war crimes committed ten years ago:

(Nic also posted on the AC360 blog following the first day of the trial: I spent three years in Sarajevo, it was madness. When you’ve seen such killing it’s impossible not to hope collectively we become more responsible about preventing future carnage. Some of the answers are going to be found in the Hague.)

Saturday, Nic was back in London, and filed a report about accusations that the Pakistani intelligence force (the ISI) helped the Taliban attack the Indian embassy in Kabul last month:

Wilf Dinnick reported from Jerusalem about a clash between Hamas and Fatah leading to supporters of the latter being allowed to cross from Gaza into Israel for humanitarian reasons. It's not quite "the enemy of my enemy..." but it's close:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Okay, back to the reason I chose that screengrab up there...

Over the weekend, John King once again substituted for Tom Foreman as host of This Week in Politics. For a discussion of the week's campaign-trail happenings, one of John's guests was Dana Bash. As I watched it, I was struck by how odd it seemed that he did not acknowledge that she is also his wife. 

Now, there was certainly no need for him to -- there is no question of any sort of conflict of interests, as had been claimed in regards to certain pundits who used to work for one political party/personage or another, or retired generals who were getting talking points from the White House before appearing on news programs. They were both completely professional during the interview; in fact, if you didn't know they were married, it wouldn't have seemed odd at all. But I do know, and it did seem -- see whether you agree:

Certainly given the relaxed atmosphere of TWiP, (he disclosed Bananarama, fer cryin' out loud!) it would not have been at all amiss for him to say something like, "Congressional correspondent Dana Bash, who also happens to be my wife" and left it at that. It would have been a bit of a cute moment, totally in keeping with the way TWiP is run.

So ... why not? Perhaps it was just John's natural reticence to becoming part of the story. He definitely strikes me as someone who has an old-school-journalism streak about that sort of thing, which is sadly becoming more and more rare. What I hope it wasn't was a bow to the thinking that a wife is "less than" her husband and that introducing her as such would lower her credibility in some way. (Anyone who still believes that is a hopeless knuckle-dragger and not watching CNN anyway!) 

Another question is why it struck me as so odd. Maybe I just watch too much CNN (can it be?!) and we all know too much about the private lives of reporters and anchors. But hey, they are coming into our homes every day, it's hard not to notice at least the basics! 

As you can tell, I am conflicted about this. What's your take on it?

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BookAsylum said...

I was thinking the same thing as I watched!

To my recollection... this is the first time that we've seen them in this situation since they got married... John anchoring and Dana reporting/ providing commentary live.

I'm not surprised by the fact that it wasn't mentioned. I'm waiting for the next time John subs on the Situation Room and Jack Cafferty gets a chance to make a well timed remark. (Jack's pretty dependable for stuff like that.)

Why can TWIP have funky bump music and American Morning can't????

Anonymous said...

The two of them did not miss a beat! As I was watching this clip I couldn't help thinking how hard it would be to be married to the man/woman across the table and to report in such a manner that the general public wouldn't think they even knew each other outside of work.

Great job Dana and John!