Wanna Know Why No One Trusts You, Media? Ali Watkins, That's Why

NEW YORK - Two unidentified women hold signs calling for civil discourse, decency, and respect in New York City on January 21, 2017.

We’re thrilled to announce that Ali Watkins of Politico is joining the Washington Bureau as a national security reporter.

Ali, who covers intelligence and national security for Politico, has had a series of important scoops. She broke news that Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser, met with a Russian spy in 2013. She also had exclusive new details on China’s harassment of American spies. Last month, she was the first to reveal the name of the Russian woman, Olga Vinogradova, who met with the former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos during the 2016 campaign.


That’s from an announcement the New York Times made when they hired Ali Watkins, the now-disgraced 20-something national security reporter who was sleeping with her nearly 60-year-old source for several years while he fed her classified information related to his work as an aide on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

At least one of the accolades and reasons for hiring young Ms. Watkins mentioned above — the one related to Carter Page — is now part of a criminal case against that aide, 57-year-old James A. Wolfe, who is being charged with lying to investigators on more than one occasion about his contacts with Watkins and other reporters. Streiff covered details of the story earlier today.

There’s no way to know what’s in the heart of a not-even-close-to-30-year-old, ambitious young reporter and her nearly 60-year-old lover, but so far there’s been no evidence the two were committed to a loving relationship. Just a lot of denying about what kind of classified pillow talk was bandied about. I suppose they could have been in love.

But producer/director Robbie Starbuck has a great twitter thread about the story — particularly the part about how, at a mere 20 years of age, Ms. Watkins was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for her work with other McClatchy reporters covering the CIA torture report.




That last tweet is a killer.

Watkins insists she disclosed the relationship to her employers, including the New York Times. They apparently didn’t care. It’s coming out now that Buzzfeed knew about the relationship and let her cover the Senate Intelligence Committee anyway.

And that, mainstream media, is why no one trusts you.

A caveat: perhaps it’s unfair to wonder how on earth Ms. Watkins was considered a finalist for the most prestigious award in journalism before she was even really much of an adult. But she — and those who sung her praises and pushed her up the chain and gave her classified intel for a little roll in the hay — have given everyone plenty of reason to wonder.


Young women not willing to make such compromises have to fight not only the all-too-true maxim that it’s a man’s world (because it is), they also have to fight the Ali Watkins of the world, too. The latter — and you can trust me on this — is the harder foe to defeat.


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