SPARE US THE ETHICS LECTURE, FRED…. Last week, Republican pundit Fred Barnes did his very best to pretend to be outraged about the existence of Journolist — the former listserv featuring left-of-center media professionals, scholars, and wonks (including, for the record, me).
“If there’s a team, no one has asked me to join,” Barnes said in a Wall Street Journal piece. “As a conservative, I normally write more favorably about Republicans than Democrats and I routinely treat conservative ideas as superior to liberal ones. But I’ve never been part of a discussion with conservative writers about how we could most help the Republican or the conservative team.” Barnes added that he’s pained by the betrayal of “traditional journalism.”
The layers of misjudgment are numerous, especially coming from a shamelessly partisan Fox News contributor publishing an item on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal.
But Joe Conason takes this further, and notes that Barnes is very much part of “a team,” which is evident every time Barnes helps Republican fundraising efforts and accepts tens of thousands of dollars from GOP organizations.
* In February 2006, Barnes was paid $10,000 plus travel expenses by Oregon’s Lane County Republican Central Committee to deliver the keynote address at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner. (Thanks to Carla Axtman for research assistance.) These payments, recorded in filings with the Oregon secretary of state, were evidently made through the Premier Speakers Bureau of Franklin, Tenn., which represents other Fox personalities including Sean Hannity, Dick Morris and Mike Huckabee. Barnes is no longer listed on the Premier website, but the company did not respond to phone or e-mail inquiries about its relationship with him.
* In February 2007, Barnes spoke at the annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner held by the Republican Party of Fort Bend County, Texas — home of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who purchased a ticket to the event. The party organization’s filing with the Texas Ethics Commission shows two payments of $5,000 each on April 26, 2007, to Premiere Speakers Bureau (with the notation “LRD 2007 Speaker – Fred Barnes”) and travel expenses of $1,823. Photos of a smiling Barnes with various local dignitaries at the event, which netted a reported $70,000 for the party, can be viewed here.
* In early March 2008, Barnes served as the keynote speaker for the Republican Party of Palm Beach County at its annual Lincoln Day Dinner. Whether he received the customary $10,000 is not clear because the party’s filing with the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections show only a single payment of $5,500 to Premiere Speakers Bureau on Feb. 18. The committee reported net $120,000 in net proceeds from the event.
Tell us again, Fred, about your unwavering commitment to the standards of “traditional journalism,” and your independence from any “team.”
And while you’re at it, Fred, tell us how an online discussion group with media professionals is more offensive than your Republican fundraising efforts.