That the mainstream media has a romance with the Democrat Party is apparently — both figuratively and very literally.
According to Fox News, Axios reporter and MSNBC contributor Alexi McCammond was right to ask to be taken off candidate Joe Biden’s beat when she began dating his then-press secretary, TJ Ducklo. Axios did just that…and then proceeded to move her to cover Kamala Harris, the Vice-President of the Biden administration.
The couple came forward with their story to People Magazine, where they were featured on Monday night. When ethics concerns were raised about the couple still effectively working for Biden, Axios declined to comment according to Fox News:
Axios has since reassigned her to “covering progressive lawmakers in Congress” and Harris.
“Alexi disclosed her relationship with TJ to her editors in November and asked to be taken off of the Biden beat. We reassigned her to cover progressives in Congress, the progressive movement, and Vice President Kamala Harris. Alexi is a valued member of the Axios team, and we stand behind her and her coverage,” an Axios spokesperson told Fox News.
However, McCammond covered Biden as recently as Feb. 3 with a story headlined, “Progressives relish Biden’s tweet in support of minimum wage policy.”
Axios declined a request for additional comment.
University of North Carolina associate professor Lois Boynton, who teaches journalism ethics, said while the couple technically did the right thing by reporting their relationship and asking to be moved, it’s likely problems will arise despite their diligence.
“Per what’s reported in the People article, Alexi McCammond followed the Axios ethics policy regarding conflicts of interest by reporting the relationship to her superiors and accepting a shift in what beat she covers,” Boynton told Fox News
She pointed out that Axios’s own website makes it clear that any reporters with a conflict of interest “are required to disclose this to their manager, the editor in chief and the standards editor” and “efforts will be made to remove this possible conflict but if a conflict is unavoidable, this will be disclosed at the bottom of the story.” Regardless of her closeness, Boynton noted that any closeness at all is a hazard, as well as a perception issue.
“Perceptions are crucial, particularly if they affect how much trust readers, viewers and other potential sources have in the reporter’s ability to maintain independence. Across the board, trust in news media has fallen,” Boynton said. “Trust is a delicate thing; if compromised, it takes yeoman’s effort to rebuild.”
Ducklo’s boss, Press Secretary Jen Psaki, has also not responded to a request for comment.
It’s not hard to see the massive issue here. The relationship between an agent of the mainstream press and a top Biden official is a wide-open door for corruption that could lead to story manipulation or a refusal to tell a story at all. While being in the relationship is one thing, it’s clear that McCammond needs to be removed from the White House beat altogether.
The fact that Axios just moved her from the president to the vice-president isn’t a solution, it’s effectively moving a person at the front of the canoe to the back of the same canoe. You’re still paddling water in the same boat.
As Boynton pointed out, the massive erosion in the trust being experienced by the mainstream media is not going to be helped when people begin understanding that there are actual relationships happening between Democrats and figures in the media. Moreover, it’s only further tempting itself to fall deeper into the bias that it’s dug for itself over the course of years.
The mainstream media needs to begin moving away from the bubble it created, not further into it. If it has no problem with ethics violations like the one between a Biden staffer and an Axios reporter, then the media needs to be taken over by more responsible and ethical people.