Report: Overwhelming Majority of Political Donations from Members of the Media Went to Democrats

Democratic presidential hopefuls (L-R) US entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg, Former US Vice President Joseph R. Biden, US Senator for Vermont Bernie Sanders and US Senator for California Kamala Harris arrive on stage for the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season …
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

The vast majority of political donations made by members of the media go to Democrats, according to an analysis from Business Insider.

Members of the media, including reporters, have donated at least $110,000 to candidates in the 2020 election, with the bulk of the donations going almost entirely to Democrats. According to the Insider’s analysis, donors include staffers at the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Houston Chronicle. They are “among dozens of reporters, editors, and other newspeople who’ve given tens of thousands of dollars to political candidates and causes.”

Three journalists at the Marshall Project, a “nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization,” contributed to far-left Democrats this cycle, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), as well as “a political committee led by Democratic Party luminary Stacey Abrams.” Their involvement appears to stand in stark contrast to the code of ethics, which advises journalists to “shun” any “political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.”

Even the Marshall Project’s founder and board chairman, Neil Barsky, has himself donated tens of thousands to Democrats, including Joe Biden. However, he told the outlet that the code of ethics does not apply to him, as he does not work in the newsroom.

“For the sake of our democracy and the health of our planet, I sincerely hope Trump loses on November 3, and I plan to continue to do everything in my power as a private citizen to help make that happen,” he told the outlet.

While Insider reported that “the vast majority of working journalists do not contribute money to political campaigns and committees,” there are “dozens” who do not fall in the same category:

But dozens of outliers — reporters, editors, photojournalists, and other newsroom professionals at outlets large and small — have contributed money to political candidates and committees during this election, according to an Insider analysis of campaign-contribution records filed with the Federal Election Commission and recent interviews with most of the journalists or their bosses. Many do not primarily cover or edit national political news, though some do.

Insider found that between January 1, 2019, and August 31, 2020, working journalists had contributed at least $110,000 to federal-level political committees. Because FEC contribution data contains omissions and errors, and Insider could not definitively confirm some contributions attributed in public records to journalists, the number is likely higher than $110,000.

There’s one commonality among members of the media who did give politicians money this election: Nearly all their cash went to Democratic candidates and causes, particularly Biden and Sanders.

Others involved in the analysis include New York Magazine, ProPublica, Mother Jones, McClatchy, Bloomberg, the Intercept, the New Yorker, the Washington Times, the Hill, and the Los Angeles Times — the latter of which saw at least five reporters and editors making political donations that went primarily to Democrats and Democrat causes.

Los Angeles Times Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine, alongside general counsel Jeff Glasser, recently sent a memo to staffers following the Insider’s inquiry, telling the newsroom that violations “undermine” their “commitment to impartial coverage.” Pearlstine told the outlet that they subsequently “pulled people off political coverage whom we know made contributions.”

According to Insider, the Hill suspended political reporter Niv Eli upon the learning of her political donations to both Warren and Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) Democrat challenger, Amy McGrath.

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