From the Right



Journalist's real sin was breaking the rules of the trade

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

I don't see why this is even a tough call. Of course Thrush needs to be fired -- not just because of the allegations, and not just because the whole story is awkward for a newspaper that has tried to lead the way in exposing sexual impropriety in Washington and Hollywood.

No. Thrush should lose his job because the Times needs to take seriously the rules of professional conduct to which it holds other journalists. What is at issue is not whether Thrush is a good person, but whether he is -- and was ever -- a good journalist.

You see, I'm an old-school journo. I'm the same age as Thrush, and I've spent more than half my life writing for newspapers. And at each place I worked, whether it was as a reporter or columnist, my bosses were -- in their gruff and gravelly voices -- not shy about spelling out what was expected of me, what the rules of the profession were, and what would happen to me if I broke any.

One of those rules, which Politico had in place as well when Thrush worked there, was not to share a story with a source before it is published. That's common sense. You can't let the people you interview edit and massage your story before it runs. When you do that, you've stopped being a journalist; you've become a stenographer. You no longer report; you take dictation.

Last year, thanks to a Wikileaks dump, we learned that Thrush -- while working as a reporter at Politico -- shared a story pre-publication with John Podesta, then campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton. In an email, Thrush begged Podesta not to tell anyone about their arrangement. He even sheepishly called himself a "hack."

Well put, Glenn.

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So the question isn't whether Thrush should lose his job in journalism. It's why he ever had one in the first place.


Ruben Navarrette's email address is His daily podcast, "Navarrette Nation," is available through every podcast app.

(c) 2017, The Washington Post Writers Group



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