It’s no secret to PeakNation that Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s brother, James Bennet, is an accomplished journalist. Currently, James Bennet is the editorial page editor of the New York Times. When Bennet was elected U.S. Senator the first and second time, James Bennet was the editor in chief of The Atlantic, where he never recused himself from issue coverage. But now that Sen. Bennet is exploring a run for President, his brother finally realized that perhaps he should recuse himself from covering issues of the day because his brother was either championing a position or voting directly on them. Both media outlets are national in scope. What’s the difference?
Here’s what the New York Times told Vanity Fair on Friday:
“In the event that Senator Michael Bennet announces an exploratory committee or a potential run for president, his brother, editorial-page editor James Bennet, will recuse himself from any work generated by the opinion desk related to the 2020 presidential election. He will not discuss, assign, or edit any editorials, op-eds, columns, or other opinion pieces that are substantially related to candidates or major issues in the campaign. These responsibilities will be handled by the deputy editorial-page editors, Kathleen Kingsbury and James Dao, for as long as Michael Bennet is seeking higher office. Even now, James is not involved in any editorial decisions related to the senator.”
Should James Bennet have recused himself from The Atlantic during his brother’s senatorial runs? Colorado issues frequently are covered in the magazine. What about James Bennet’s time at the New York Times while his brother was a U.S. Senator? Couldn’t one say that James gave Michael political cover on issues like Obamacare, the disastrous Iran deal, what else?
By admitting that he couldn’t be unbiased in media coverage of his brother by recusing himself from 2020 coverage, James is saying that he should never have been editor in the first place due to his inherent bias. What makes his brother’s presidential run any different from any of his other runs and should some enterprising politico (frankly, on either side of the aisle) review the New York Times coverage of issues that Sen. Bennet championed? After all, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine James Bennet asking a reporter down the hall to consider this or that when reporting on these tough issues, would it?
The New York Times claims that the two departments are separate. That may be true on an org chart, but, practically speaking, is there really a Chinese Wall that exists between the departments? We highly doubt it.