Conflict of Interest: Politico Reporter (Literally) in Bed with David Gregory's Producer
Politico's Senior Political Reporter Jonathan Martin is married to Meet the Press Executive Producer Elizabeth Discher Martin. Surely that high-powered relationship had nothing to do with Politico's paltry coverage of the David Gregory/DC gun law story. Surely not.
The biggest story within Beltway media circles the past few weeks has been the DC investigation into Gregory brandishing an illegal, 30 round magazine on Meet the Press to attempt to embarrass NRA Chairman Wayne LaPierre. But, if Politico is your sole source of news (God forbid), you'd barely even know it was a controversy at all.
The beltway political rag gave glancing coverage of the story through media analyst Dylan Byers' blog, and from the beginning, his coverage was to downplay and mock the story as an invention of "right-wing bloggers and pundits" looking for a story over the holidays:
For many, it was a ridiculous story from the start — the weed that grew from a holiday news drought. News anchors and media critics voiced disdain for the story on Twitter, The Wall Street Journal's conservative editorial board called it "entirely nonsensical," even the president of the National Rifle Association called it "silly." But for some right-wing bloggers and pundits, the idea that Gregory could be exempt from established gun laws was evidence of liberal media hypocrisy.
Those who argue that the investigation is ludicrous have a point: Showing an empty gun magazine on television, though illegal in Washington, D.C., was hardly going to harm anyone. As Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren wrote, it's hard to think of a sillier use of investigative resources.
After that report (which ran on New Years' Eve), Politico didn't really cover the story at all until the DC attorney announced Friday there would be no charges brought against the NBC News host.
Erik Wemple, Byers' counterpart across town at the Washington Post, saw fit to give thorough and frequent reports on the ongoing investigation, and he respectfully gave voice to those suggesting this was a journalistic breach that fed into the perception that Beltway elite-media play by a different set of rules than the rest of America.
Wemple went on to write several additional posts about the investigation and the journalistic questions it raises. In short, he did what a media critic is supposed to do. Byers, on the other hand, virtually ignored the story. The cursory coverage of the announcement to not pursue charges actually fell under MacKenzie Weinger's byline at the Dylan Byers' blog. The story didn't even warrant comment from Byers?
Why would the media analyst for Politico (a publication positioning itself as the #1 source for Beltway/political news) not even see fit to report on one of the higher profile DC political media stories? Maybe because it would make for an awkward moment at the company water cooler during coffee breaks.
Considering that the entire high-capacity magazine fiasco happened under the watchful eye of Executive Producer Elizabeth Fischer Martin, wife of Byers' colleague Jonathan Martin, shouldn't some kind of disclosure have been made? Especially since Byers' downplaying of the story and ridicule of those who disagree with his wisdom as nothing more than "right-wing bloggers" served to put Politico in the place of running interference for the NBC News Sunday Show.
Maybe not. I mean, we already know what Jonathan Martin thinks about a "Journalistic Code of Ethics."