When MSNBC broke the news of (oh no!) a long list of journalists who donated to political campaigns, it included one curious name: Randy Cohen, better known as “The Ethicist” in the New York Times. Cohen donated $585 to MoveOn.org in 2004 to support their fundraising campaign to defeat Bush.
Only the Times‘ policy prohibits all employee donations to political causes as of 2003. Not too ethical, Randy. Here’s how The Ethicist described the lapse:
“We admire those colleagues who participate in their communities help out at the local school, work with Little League, donate to charity […] But no such activity is or can be non-ideological. Few papers would object to a journalist donating to the Boy Scouts or joining the Catholic Church. But the former has an official policy of discriminating against gay children; the latter has views on reproductive rights far more restrictive than those of most Americans. Should reporters be forbidden to support those groups? I’d say not.”
Or, rather, how he didn’t describe the lapse. His syndicated column just got pulled from the Spokane Spokesman-Review, who said they “would look elsewhere for a publishable ethicist.”