A Union of Politics and News Ends With Both Contaminated. The decision by ABC News to hire George Stephanopoulos in 1996 tripped alarms throughout American journalism.
Mr. Stephanopoulos, a top aide to President Bill Clinton, was so fresh from the political battlefield that he still had blood on his shoes. Would he track it into newsrooms and broadcast studios, leaving a trail for others to follow?
“Government-to-press switcheroos do not bode well for news objectivity,” The Los Angeles Times television critic Howard Rosenberg wrote at the time. In The New York Times Magazine, Max Frankel called Mr. Stephanopoulos’s move another step in “the progressive collapse of the walls that traditionally separated news from propaganda,” which had been erected “to guard against all kinds of partisan contamination.”
Network news executives brushed it off as sanctimony from graybeards who didn’t get it. Their hiring of political operatives — who were becoming telegenic stars in their own right — continued apace.
Well, here we are. This week brought the news that CNN had cut ties to Donna Brazile, the interim chairwoman of the Democratic Party and a longtime paid political analyst for the network. They parted ways after leaked emails indicated that she had shared with Hillary Clinton’s campaign some possible questions for CNN-sponsored candidate events during the primaries.