Ethics: Members of Media Using Fake Names to Buy Obama Merchandise

Posted: Sep 07, 2012 7:53 AM

It's a long-held tradition that, although members of the media may all harbor certain political views, they avoid participating in campaigns out of deference to their craft. After all, the free press exists to keep public figures honest, despite any shared stances, and if a reporter is known to have donated to someone, then there's automatically the assumption that they have that politician's best interests at heart.

Of course, bias in the media is an oft-lamented phenomenon of today, and it's fairly easy to spot. But there's something especially unsettling about the idea that some in the Fourth Estate are not only donating money to the people they're ostensibly keeping honest; they're doing so clandestinely.

One account from the DNC maintains that reporters were using aliases to make donations to the Obama campaign, thereby avoiding the possibility of public disclosure.

The souvenir stand was in a secure area only accessible to those with a media credential and buying campaign gear means contributing to the campaign, so we asked the woman working the cash register whether anyone at the press stand had been making purchases. Her answers were quite surprising.

The woman working at the souvenir stand told us she hadn’t been “too busy” during the day, but had seen business pick up in the past half hour or so. She then asked us whether we wanted to buy anything. When we informed her that our status as a reporter means we don’t buy campaign gear, she suggested a strategy other members of the media have apparently used to pick up their Obama swag.

“Have you ever thought of making up a fake name? That’s what the other guys do,” she said.

Donate if you must; but at the very least, own up to it. The public deserves to know whether its scribes are financially vested in the people they're covering.