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UPDATE 10/9/12: In the wake of the effort and continued public pressure, the Journal appears to have started to change its tune. They recently disclosed Karl Rove's super PAC ties in his column. The Journal also disclosed the campaign role of two Romney advisers, when it previously had not. It's not clear if there's been a full scale change in policy yet, so we've got more work to do. But this is certainly an encouraging step.
On September 19, a Media Matters review revealed that The Wall Street Journal published more than 20 op-eds written by 10 Romney campaign advisers without disclosing their campaign roles.
Editors from the nation’s top papers reacted by criticizing the Journal's lack of disclosure, calling it "inexcusable" noting that it is "absolutely essential" to be transparent in these situations.
Bottom line: This isn't a partisan issue. Newspaper readers should know when they're reading something written by someone involved in a political campaign. So, on September 21, Media Matters launched an effort urging the Journal to reconsider this unethical practice of non-disclosure. Thousands participated in this effort, signing a letter addressed to the Journal's Editorial Page editor, Paul Gigot, urging him to reconsider the Journal's practice of hiding campaign ties and to start disclosing the campaign roles of its op-ed authors.
Attn: Paul A. Gigot Editor, Editorial Page, The Wall Street Journal
Cc: Wall Street Journal Editorial Board
Monday, September 24, 2012
Dear Mr. Gigot and Journal Editorial Board:
A recent report by Media Matters found that your paper, The Wall Street Journal, has recently published op-eds from nine writers without disclosing their ties to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Finding no apparent policy of campaign-advisor disclosure on the Journal website, we ask that you inform your readers when any op-ed or column is written by someone holding a campaign role.
According to a review of your op-ed pages, The Wall Street Journal has published a total of 20 op-eds written by official Romney campaign advisors without disclosing their campaign ties. These advisers are: John Bolton; Max Boot; Lee A. Casey; Paula Dobriansky; Mary Ann Glendon; Glenn Hubbard; Paul E. Peterson; David B. Rivkin Jr.; and Martin West. To cite two examples, you have published two op-eds criticizing the Obama administration’s foreign policy by John Bolton without disclosing that he is a foreign policy advisor to Mitt Romney’s campaign. Further, you have published seven op-eds criticizing the Obama administration’s handling of a range of domestic issues jointly written by Lee A. Casey and David B. Rivkin, Jr. without disclosing that they are both members of Romney's Justice Advisory Committee. The pieces are not only written by undisclosed campaign advisors, but are focused on issues related to these advisory roles and to the election. This is not acceptable.
We see that you have even appeared to recognize this problem some of the time, in the cases of Glenn Hubbard and John Bolton, both of which have their ties disclosed in some of their pieces but not others. We ask that you disclose the campaign affiliations of op-ed and column writers consistently and clearly in every piece they write.
It is the responsibility of every news source to ensure their readers can trust them to report that information accurately and honestly, including disclosing any campaign affiliations of the writers it publishes. Attached to this letter you will find details about the 20 op-eds in question. We will await your response.