Samantha Power is an award-winning and respected academic has served as Mr Obama’s key foreign policy aide. She has now resigned after the Scotman newspaper published an off-the-record comment about Hillary Clinton, calling her a “monster” who will do or say anything to get elected. What I find most disturbing is the complete absence of journalistic ethics on the part of this newspaper. Years ago, I had a run in with the Scotsman over their publication of an interview or column that they attributed to me. I never gave them an interview or spoke with them.
In this article, the Scotsman clearly shows that Power made the statement off-the-record. Power is quoted as saying: “She is a monster, too – that is off the record – she is stooping to anything.”
Yet, the irony is that they chortle at the “inexperienced Obama campaign” for such a mistake. In fact, most reporters would have honored the off the record statement.
Power is entitled to say such things off the record and not lose her job over it. The problem is the newspaper and its utter lack of professionalism. My only encounter with the Scotsman came with a publication years ago. It was so long ago, I only vaguely remember that it had something to do with the Clinton impeachment, but I called to ask about the publication. I got no response.
The story here should not be the fact that Obama people despise Clinton, but the fact that the Scotsman seem entirely unhinged on the question of journalistic ethics. While I give the Scotsman credit for not deleting the off-the-record demand, it is astonishing that it would openly disregard such a demand. The only defense would be highly technical: that Power should have stated upfront that the entire discussion or that portion would be off-the-record. However, that is rarely done. Sources and journalists often go back and forth on record comment, background comments, and off-the-record comments. It seems like the Scotsman created a “gotcha” story by not honoring this basic rule of journalism.
Conduct like this undermines all journalists and columnists who need to speak freely with sources. The Scotsman poisons that well when it disregards these basic rules of engagement. In the end, it was not the lack of experience of Powers but the lack of ethics of the Scotsman that proved Powers undoing.
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