Irony and Ethics

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According to Lloyd Grove today, Arianna Huffington is drawing blood from Tim Russert with her charges of conflict of interest.

In her latest attack, Arianna is mocking how Russert will headline a journalism ethics conference in Wisconsin next week: “Inviting Tim Russert to keynote a conference on journalistic ethics is like having Jack Abramoff keynote a conference on lobbying reform, Jim Frey lecture on truth in advertising, or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lead High Holy Days services at Temple Beth Israel.”

Arianna also wonders what his paycheck will be: “According to the Washington Speakers Bureau, which exclusively handles Russert’s speaking engagements, his standard speaking fee is $60,000 plus first class travel for two for west coast appearances, and $50,000 and first class travel for two for east coast locales — although, they say, private planes are strongly preferred.”

Now all of these attacks appear to getting under NBC’s skin: Yesterday NBC attacked her saying, “The last time we heard from Ms. Huffington, she was hiring private eyes to investigate reporters”–a charge from her husband’s 1994 Senate campaign, which she has repeatedly denied.

Interesting, though, that the “NBC publicity machine,” otherwise known as normally very friendly Barbara Levin, isn’t refuting or engaging on the substance of Arianna’s attacks: Mainly that Russert used his show to flack for his son and James Carville without telling viewers he was doing so.