Greenspan & Mitchell: The Non-Disclosure Disclosure

By Chris Ariens 

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The New York Times’ Brian Stelter picks up on a recent Columbia Journalism Review article about how MSNBC afternoon anchor (and NBC’s chief foreign affair correspondent) Andrea Mitchell covers the financial crisis given that Mitchell is married to former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan. Essentially, she doesn’t.

Stelter writes, “Greenspan’s name has come up dozens of times on MSNBC in the last month, but never during the 1 p.m. hour.” That’s the hour Mitchell anchors.

Says NBC News president Steve Capus, “To me it’s a pretty easy balancing act. She knows where to draw the line.”

As someone who spent a year producing for Mitchell, I can tell you that line was drawn a long time ago. I produced Mitchell’s MSNBC show in 2000. The Mitchell Report was primarily about the presidential primaries and general election, but these were also the heady days of the markets and when Greenspan himself made news. CNBC even began the Greenspan Briefcase Indicator — a wholly unscientific way to forecast whether the Fed would raise or reduce the interest rate based on the thickness of Greenspan’s briefcase as he arrived at the Fed. On any given day when Greenspan was in the news, Mitchell would always tell us in our pre-show meetings, “We’re not doing the Greenspan story.” And we wouldn’t.