WASHINGTON—Accuracy in Media (AIM) says that Tim Russert, by covering the Lewis Libby case, is violating the ethics code of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). Russert was a witness against Libby and his testimony was provided to the grand jury that produced the Libby indictment. Russert is reported to be a likely prosecution witness against the former vice presidential chief of staff. The SPJ code declares that journalists should:
? Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived, and
? Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
“By covering this story on his NBC programs last weekend,” stated AIM editor Cliff Kincaid, “Russert violated the SPJ ethics code and engaged in unprofessional conduct. He should have removed himself from coverage of this case.”
AIM also called attention to the Radio and Television News Directors Association Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, which calls on the media to “Respect the right to a fair trial.”
“Russert has undermined Lewis Libby’s right to a fair trial by covering a case in which he, Russert, is a prominent player and accuser,” said Kincaid.
AIM is urging concerned citizens to contact David McCormick, NBC News ombudsman, with their concerns about Russert’s role. McCormick’s formal title is NBC News Executive Producer for Broadcast Standards.
AIM has called and emailed McCormick’s office to say: How can you defend Tim Russert covering and commenting on a story, the Libby case, in which he, Russert, is involved as an accuser and likely prosecution witness? Can you please provide a copy of the NBC News ethics guidelines covering the activities of your employees?
McCornick’s telephone number is 212-664-3984
30 Rockefeller Center
New York, NY 10112-0036
Accuracy In Media (AIM) is a non-profit, grassroots citizens watchdog of the news media that critiques botched and bungled news stories and sets the record straight on important issues that have received slanted coverage.