Opinion: Linda Douglass, well-known journalist, becomes a partisan
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Linda Douglass, who parlayed a highly successful career as a television journalist in Los Angeles into an even more illustrious one at the national level, made a switch today that already has sparked discussion about media bias: she signed on with Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, joining his staff as a senior strategist and spokeswoman.
Douglass, who served as ABC’s chief congressional correspondent for several years earlier this decade, had this to say about her switch:
‘I see this as a moment of transformational change in the country and I have spent my lifetime sitting on the sidelines watching people attempt to make change. I just decided that I can’t sit on the sidelines anymore.’
Most recently, Douglass had been writing about the presidential campaign for National Journal magazine (an influential inside-the-Beltway publication) and hosting the weekly ‘National Journal On Air’ program on XM Satellite Radio’s all-politics channel. She made the above comment to one of her colleagues with the company that owns National Journal, Marc Ambinder.
He writes an excellent political blog for theatlantic.com, and after an earlier posting on Douglass’s hiring, filed a lengthier item this afternoon about her move. Calling her ‘an eminently fair journalist,’ he added: ‘To conservative media critics, the divide between the press corps and modern political liberalism is fairly narrow, and easy to jump over, and Douglass’s decision will reconfirm their sense that bias pervades newsrooms.’
But Ambinder also reported that conservatives wouldn’t be alone ...
in reacting that way. An unnamed Hillary Clinton campaign advisor, he said, sent him the following e-mail: ‘This is scandalous and further undermines the media’s ability to claim independence overall.’
The entire post can be read here. (In it, Ambinder notes that Douglass’s husband, lawyer John Phillips, has been a big fundraiser for Obama. That probably didn’t hurt her during the interview process), .
Ben Smith of politico.com also posted on the news, and his take was blunter than Ambinder’s. Wrote Smith: ‘It’s a home run of a data point for anyone who thinks the press is in the tank for Obama.’
A California native and USC graduate, Douglass began her career at L.A.'s KCBS in 1974. She became best known at KNBC, serving as the station’s political editor from 1985 until her husband’s work took them to Washington in 1992.
A Times story on her departure characterized her as ‘one of the most respected reporters in local TV news’ and as one of her station’s ‘most experienced and no-nonsense reporters.’
It was right on both counts.