Hey Asian Americans, another one of us is in the news. This time, Gina Chon, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal (owned by Rupert Murdoch), was forced to resign over a sexual relationship between her and Brett McGurk, who was at the time a national security advisor to George W. Bush. They were both married to other people at the time. McGurk is now Obama’s nomination for the next ambassador to Iraq. Chon resigned because she violated the Dow Jones Code of Conduct by getting sexually involved with someone she was covering, and because she shared unpublished information with McGurk. E-mails were recently leaked that showed the two discussing business along with jokes about blue balls.
I think in any industry or institutional setting, there are always going to be relationships outside of business, people having drinks and what-not, and I’m sure people are public about their friends in high places. I’m also pretty sure that this kind of sexual fling happens from time to time. However, I think this does seriously compromise a journalist’s impartiality. You can write a fairly unbiased article on your golf buddy, but I think it’s hard for anyone to be impartial towards a spouse, fling, or anyone else with whom one has romantic relations.
As for McGurk, he apparently likes Asian women (married at the time to Caroline Wong McGurk), and that’s not a crime, nor, I suppose, is it a crime to be fooling around with a reporter who is covering you (journalistically speaking, of course). However, I can’t help but think that this relationship was a serious error in judgment. It seriously affects how people perceive his integrity, despite whatever other credentials he has. After all, the public has a right to know what government officials are doing, and if his actions compromise the public’s ability to get the story, I’m not sure that’s a good way to foster public trust in government. Republicans are stating that they have reservations over McGurk, but as of right now, Obama is sticking by his man.