The daughter of President Obama’s closest confidante will be covering the Trump Administration for CNN.
Laura Jarrett is the daughter of Valerie Jarrett, who has been advising and guiding Obama since she hired his then-fiancée , Michelle, in 1991, to work with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Valerie Jarrett is so close that she often vacations with the first family.
The younger Jarrett had no experience in journalism prior to joining the cable news network in September. There is no record that she wrote for any of the newspapers at Amherst College or Harvard, where she earned her law degree. She is slated to cover Trump’s Department of Justice.
A biography of the Jarett posted on CNN’s website describes her long history as a Harvard-trained legal advocate but makes no mention of her mother, her connection to other leaders of the Democratic Party or the fact that President Obama attended her wedding in 2012. It does note that she published articles on the intersection of gender, violence, and the law for the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender.
Jarrett follows a long line of high-profile Democrats employed as journalists by news networks. They include Chelsea Clinton, George Stephanopoulos, Chris Matthews and Tim Russert.
In addition, the president of CBS News, David Rhodes, is the brother of Obama’s strategic communications advisor, Ben Rhodes. Outgoing National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s husband was a senior executive with ABC News until 2011.
Jarret’s hiring comes just months after CNN severed ties with Democrat strategist Donna Brazile, after she provided Hillary Clinton with debate questions.
Trump has frequently clashed with CNN, labeling it “fake news” at his Jan. 11 press conference.
Jeffrey L. Seglin, a lecturer in public policy Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government who writes about ethics, said Jarret’s hiring raises complicated questions. “They are hiring her for who she is and for the knowledge she has and part of that knowledge is built upon her connections.”
But, he noted, “there is a potential for a conflict because of her background and CNN should disclose that fact in the interests of transparency to the viewer.”
Seglin added, “I would be just as concerned if the parties were reversed or say if Mike Pence had an adult child who was reporting on a Democratic administration.”
Seglin said that CNN could tackle the transparency issue in some ways. He noted that in the past CNN had done a fair job using the on-screen scroll to identify the political ties of on-air talent. CNN should make it clear if her work is meant to be opinion journalism or news reporting.
Other media experts are more skeptical that her appointment should be cause for concern.
“Conflicts of interest aren’t something you inherit from your parents,” said Kelly McBride Vice President of Poynter Institute, “Someone shouldn’t be disqualified from reporting on a topic because of the guest list at their wedding.”
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