PBS’s Judy Woodruff Also Gave to the Clinton Foundation

Judy Woodruff's 2010 donation of $250 brings up a more complicated set of ethics questions.

In the final few paragraphs of The Wall Street Journal story on George Stephanopoulos’ apology for failing to disclose his $75,000 donation to the Clinton Foundation was news of another journalist’s donation. In 2010 PBS NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff gave $250 to the Clinton Foundation for earthquake relief in Haiti.

An undisclosed $75,000 donation is a much clearer ethics violation than a $250 one, but the contrast perfectly shows the trickiness of establishing hard and fast boundaries. Should disclosure come with a minimum donation rate? For a political reporter, does a journalistic conflict happen when you give just a single dollar, even if the cause itself is apolitical? And is this a failure-to-disclose problem, a shouldn’t-have-donated-in-the-first-place problem, or both?  There is a haziness similar to the 2012 debate about the ethics of journalists contributing to the Romney and Obama campaigns, even when the journalists didn’t cover politics.

There are, of course, no definitive answers–the answer changes newsroom to newsroom and ethics code to ethics code.  So we leave it with you: where should we set the lines for donations and disclosures?