As Politico‘s Dylan Byers prepares to flee to Los Angeles, he’s already growing soft on exposing the realities of the U.S. government and the journalists who cover it.
In the past week, The Daily Beast‘s Josh Rogin has broken two exclusive stories on comments made by Sec. of State John Kerry at last week’s Trilateral Commission. One story declared that Russian President Vladmir Putin was halting talks with the White House. The second concerned revealed that Kerry warned of the possibility of Israel becoming an “apartheid” state.
Both stories contained information obtained at last week’s Trilteral Commission — an event that was announced as “off the record” by those who organized it and by many who attended. But journalism does not dictate that an off-the-record agreement exists just because people who organize events might want it to.
In contradictory stories about Rogin on Monday and Tuesday, Byers both seems to side with Rogin and then casts aspersions against the reporter who never agreed to an off-the-record rule at the event.
In story #1, Byers says that Kerry’s “private remarks” were “allegedly” recorded by a Daily Beast reporter. In the piece, the commission’s chairman accuses Rogin of sneaking into the event to which he was not invited. The story says “prominent media figures” who attended all agreed to the off-the-record rule, but says, “Rogin was not bound by this agreement.” It’s also made clear in this story that Rogin did not necessarily attend the event or sneak in, as the Chairman claimed.
In story #2, however, Politico calls Rogin “a repeat offender.” But let’s examine. A repeat offender of what?
Byers raises two examples of Rogin supposedly breaching journalistic ethics:
In 2014, it’s reporting Kerry’s remarks at an event that the commission chairman claimed was off the record. (Aren’t we supposed to be exalting reporters doing their jobs and revealing the comments of public officials?)
In 2009, it’s writing a story for Foreign Policy on an afternoon event at a synagogue about a conversation between The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg and Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. It just so happens that the event fell on Yom Kippur. Goldberg accused Rogin of surreptitiously recording the conversation — a charge Rogin has denied.
“It’s true in 2009 Jeffrey Goldberg accused me of being a bad jew on Yom Kippur,” Rogin told The Mirror in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “I’m going to leave that judgement to a higher authority.”
Goldberg, in Politico‘s story, claimed that Rogin’s story contained “wild” inaccuracies. Rogin’s story acknowledges a mistake with a clear correction.
Like most reporters who take this kind of information to the grave, Rogin would not comment on his sourcing and would not even acknowledge whether he was present at the Trilateral Commission.
“I broke no rules or agreements,” he said in our phone interview. “I never misrepresented myself in any way.”