Yet another journalist leaves media for liberal policy job

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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And another member of the media is leaving the world of reporting for a left-leaning advocacy job.

Ed Chen, a Bloomberg reporter covering the Obama administration who was most recently the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, will rejoin the Natural Resources Defense Council to do the “Lord’s work,” he said in a departure e-mail.

It’s not Chen’s first time leaving journalism for the NRDC, a powerful green group known for clashing with industry by filing pro-environmentalist litigation. Chen, once a reporter at the Los Angeles Times, left the news business in 2006 to work for the environmentalist group, though quickly returned to reporting.

“I think he’s following his heart,” said Bloomberg’s D.C. bureau chief Mike Tackett, when reached for comment on Chen’s departure.

Tackett said he couldn’t speak to whether there were any concerns about hiring Chen from NRDC in 2007 because he was not bureau chief then.

Tackett offered little commentary in response to broad questions from The Daily Caller on whether the public is use to having reporters from traditional news outlets go to Democratic leaning organizations. Asked if he thought Chen’s departure contributes to the public’s impression that the media is largely made up of reporters sympathetic to Democrats, Tackett said, “I guess I wouldn’t really have an opinion, one way or the other.”

Chen, in his e-mail, said he’s returning to the left-leaning environmental group because the Gulf oil spill has inspired him to “help public officials find the wisdom and courage to do the right thing to combat climate change before it’s too late.”

Politico’s media reporter Patrick Gavin, in a blog post about Chen, wrote that “fewer people seem to be surprised or shocked within Beltway circles” when a journalist leaves his or her job for a left-leaning political position. “Still, it is this ease and comfort that will likely reinforce notions across the country that all journalists are bias[ed] … towards Democratic-friendly organizations,” Gavin wrote. Of the recent examples of the revolving door:

  • ABC News’ political director, Teddy Davis, recently announced that he’s leaving the network to work for the Service Employees International Union.
  • Veteran journalist Linda Douglass, who had reported for ABC and CBS News, left journalism to be a spokeswoman for Obama’s presidential campaign. She later worked for the White House Office of Health Reform. Douglass just announced that she’s leaving the White House to return to the news business at the Atlantic.
  • Jay Carney, the former Washington Bureau chief for Time Magazine, left his journalism job to become Vice President Biden’s communications director.
  • Politico’s congressional reporter Jonathan Allen left his reporting gig there to work for Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s political action committee, only to return back to Politico shortly thereafter. His editor, John Harris, defended the re-hiring of Allen in a post to readers: “Most journalists, in my experience, are not particularly ideological, but a lot of them nurture Walter Mitty fantasies about what it might be like to play the game rather than cover it.”

Harris said then that Allen would not be assigned stories dealing with Wasserman Schultz, or Sen. Blanche Lincoln whose campaign Allen once contributed money to — and a review of Allen’s stories show that to be the case, though he frequently writes on Democratic congressional politics.

As for Chen, it appears he’s often reported on environmental issues, most recently the Gulf oil spill. During the 2008 election, he authored an article titled, “McCain is praised for climate stance, not his environmentalism” where he wrote how Sen. John McCain was viewed by activists as having a “weak overall environmental record.”

Among stories he wrote on environmental issues include “Obama, Harper pledge cooperation on clean energy, environment” and “Obama outraged over BP spill, federal oil regulators.” It does not appear that Chen, who did not immediately return a request for comment by email from The Daily Caller, wrote about the NRDC while at Bloomberg.

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