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GOP Presses Obama to Drop Iraqi Envoy Nominee for Affair

Wednesday, 13 June 2012 10:30 AM

A love affair that has already cost a Wall Street Journal reporter her job has now put in jeopardy President Barack Obama’s nominee as ambassador to Iraq.

Brett McGurk was on the staff of the National Security Council and was posted to Iraq during the Bush administration. Gina Chon covered Iraq for The Wall Street Journal and the two were married to different partners at the time of the affair in 2008. Both divorced and are now married.

The administration has so far stood by McGurk’s nomination to be ambassador and a vote by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was scheduled for June 19, but USA Today reports that Senate Republicans will ask Obama to withdraw the nomination.

According to the paper, GOP senators have drafted a letter that notes, “Recent information has surfaced to call into question the prudence of moving forward with the nominee at this time.

“As members of the Committee, with the responsibility of providing advice and consent, we write to respectfully urge you to reconsider this nomination. There are strong concerns about Mr. McGurk's qualifications, his ability to work with Iraqi officials, and now his judgment,” the letter said.

“We believe the nominee lacks the leadership and management experience necessary to head America's largest embassy, in one of the world's most volatile regions.”

The relationship came to light when emails the two exchanged were posted on websites including Flickr and Cryptome, The Washington Post reported.

On Tuesday the Journal announced that Chon was stepping down. "Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon agreed to resign this afternoon after acknowledging that, while based in Iraq, she violated the Dow Jones Code of Conduct by sharing certain unpublished news articles with Brett McGurk, then a member of the U.S. National Security Council in Iraq," the Journal said.

"In 2008, Ms. Chon entered into a personal relationship with Mr. McGurk, which she failed to disclose to her editor," the statement said. "At this time, the Journal has found no evidence that her coverage was tainted by her relationship with Mr. McGurk."

News organizations typically bar such relationships. Kelly McBride, an ethics specialist for the Poynter Institute, a journalism education organization, told the Post she gets five to 10 calls a year on how to handle such things.

“It happens all the time, because people fall in love,” she told the paper.

Reporters caught up in such situations have been dismissed, forced to resign, or reassigned. “Serious journalists know that it is imperative to avoid any conflict of interest and any situation that might taint their reporting perspective,” Central Michigan University journalism professor John Hartman told the Post.

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Wednesday, 13 June 2012 10:30 AM
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