In a September 30 post, The Nation's Ben Adler tackled Fox News' and The Wall Street Journal's repeated failure to disclose that many of its opinion contributors are also advisers to the Romney campaign.
Media Matters has documented that Fox News has repeatedly failed to identify guests as Romney advisers, and that the Journal has published op-eds from ten op-ed writers who weren't disclosed as Romney advisers.
Other than basic factual accuracy, there may be no principle of journalistic ethics more sacred than disclosure of conflicts of interest. On op-ed pages it is understood that the writers have no commitment to neutrality. But it is also a given that a reader cannot evaluate the arguments if she is unaware of a personal stake writers have in the subject at hand.
While the Journal's behavior is unusual and embarrassing for a respected broadsheet newspaper, it is par for the course within the conservative media. Fox News has many contributors, such as John Bolton, who criticize Obama on their programming without being identified as a Romney campaign adviser or employee. (Rove is also a Fox News contributor.)
There is nothing wrong with Fox or the Journal editorial section being openly conservative. But if their contributors are working on behalf of a vested interest, such as the Romney campaign, their readers and viewers deserve to know.
The Journal, as it did with Media Matters, did not respond to a request for comment from The Nation.