A revolving door?

A REVOLVING DOOR?…. The Politico‘s Michael Calderone has an interesting item today on “at least a half-dozen prominent journalists” who’ve left their jobs in media over the last three months, to start working for the federal government.

It’s not too surprising — if you’re looking for job security, the government is obviously preferable to news outlets right now — but it’s drawing some predictable complaints from the usual suspects.

[C]onservative critics answer with a question: Would journalists be making the same career choices if John McCain had beaten Barack Obama in November?

“Obama bails out more media water-carriers,” conservative blogger Michelle Malkin wrote upon hearing that the Chicago Tribune’s Jill Zuckman is taking a job with the Obama administration.

Blogs at both the Weekly Standard and the National Review are pointing to a “revolving door” that spins between the media and the Obama administration. And while Brent Bozell, president of the conservative Media Research Center, acknowledges that financial troubles may be forcing reporters out of newsrooms, he thinks it’s worth noting where they’re going.

“When some leave journalism because of a reduction in staff, what’s the natural landing spot?” The Obama administration,” Bozell charged…. “If you are in journalism, and you can so easily fit in the world of politics, it tells you something,” Bozell said, “that you were not that detached from it when you were in journalism.”

What Bozell may not realize is how true a different dynamic is: when some left the Bush administration, what was the natural landing spot? Major media outlets. I know of at least seven prominent examples — Michael Gerson joined the Washington Post; Sara Taylor became a pundit for MSNBC; Tony Snow joined CNN; Frances Fragos Townsend also joined CNN; Nicole Wallace was hired by CBS News; Dan Bartlett was also hired CBS News; and Karl Rove became a Fox News “analyst,” a columnist for Newsweek, and a columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

If there’s a “revolving door” between government service and the media, there are quite a few Republicans taking a spin.

But putting all of that aside, the economics of this shouldn’t be overlooked. Some of the reporters were about to get laid off, and making the jump to public service made situational sense — ideological “bias” was irrelevant.

For that matter, note that one of the six examples from Calderone’s piece has a reporter going from a newspaper to a Republican cabinet secretary. Again, not exactly an example of partisan partiality.

“Would journalists be making the same career choices if John McCain had beaten Barack Obama in November?” Almost certainly, yes. For one thing, economics would have been the overriding factor. For another, reporters have historically loved McCain, so I’m hard pressed to imagine why they wouldn’t want to work for him.

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