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Ross Barkan

Trump secrecy forces reporter to quit

Ross Barkan, National Political Reporter for NY Observer quits after paper endorses the owners daddy

Brian Young's picture
Apr 15, 2016

On April 12th, the New York Observer made the “bold” decision to endorse Donald Trump, the father-in-law of owner Jared Kushner.  The fallout from the endorsement was swift as within 24 hours’ national political reporter Ross Barkan announced through a series of tweets that he would be leaving the publication. 

Barkan, who represented the Observer’s entire national political “department,” said that there were a number of factors that led to him leaving.  In interviews with numerous publications, he said that it had become increasingly hard to navigate the connection between Trump and the Observer.  He told Yahoo, “Were there things we couldn’t necessarily cover — or were there unspoken rules?… The policies and directions weren’t always clear. I didn’t always feel I could report to the fullest extent that I could.”

In July, when the Trump campaign was beginning to get traction, Observer editor Ken Kurson wrote a memo to the staff saying that the Observer would not be running editorials about Trump and asked the reporters to limit the coverage of his candidacy.  Barkan also told multiple sources that he had begun to think about leaving after hearing that Kurson had assisted Trump on writing his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in late March.  After that incident Barkan says that he asked Kurson to advise him on any other possible conflict of interests that might impact his credibility as a reporter. 

Barkan may have felt burned considering that he was the reporter that was sent to cover the event.  While he mentioned in the article that Kushner had helped Trump with the speech and covered the event fairly, by not knowing that Kurson had been consulted on the speech, the publishers opened Barkan up to criticism.  As the sole national reporter for the Observer, Barkan was tasked with writing most of the Trump coverage so the fact that he wasn’t given all the information put him in an awkward situation.  According to Barkan, after the AIPAC situation, he asked Kurson to give him a heads up on any other Trump news that could cause a conflict of interest.  He believed that Kurson should have given him a heads up that the endorsement was coming. 

This is not the first time that a reporter has quit over their organizations cozy relationship with Trump.  After Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was accused of beating up a reporter, the reporter and 3 staff at Breitbart quit over their sites refusal to support the reporter.


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