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Fri June 15, 2012
Scott Brown's Journalist Wife: A Conflict of Interest?
Senator Scott Brown's wife, television reporter Gail Huff, stars in two new campaign ads for her husband. Huff doesn't see a conflict of interest.
Nor does her current employer, WJLA in Washington, D.C. Can the spouse of a political candidate be a working journalist?
When it comes to journalists getting involved in politics most news organizations err on the side of caution, telling staff to keep their sympathies quiet. But when reporter Gail Huff asked permission to star in a pair of new ads for her husband, U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, Washington’s WJLA-TV said … go right ahead.
Huff may be a bit biased when it comes to Brown — she is his wife, after all. In several new campaign ads the longtime television reporter praises Brown as a model husband and fantastic father, saying in one, "If the kids had a problem they didn’t call me — they called Dad."
Huff’s praise could help Brown fend off Democrat Elizabeth Warren. But whether Huff should be a campaign surrogate at all is debatable. During Brown’s last campaign, Huff was at Boston’s WCVB. She didn’t campaign for her husband or even appear with him until election night.
After that race, she said, "What was hard was not to be able to be out there in public support — to say that this is my husband, I love him, I support him."
Now she’s making her support very public. And her current employer doesn’t mind. A spokeswoman for WJLA told Beat the Press, “We discussed it with Gail and we decided it was okay — she’s not a political reporter.”
But sometimes Huff’s general-assignment work does touch on political topics, such as the Occupy movement. In an April 5 story on police attempts to move protesters out of a park, she said, "All you have to do is look at the ground to see the problem. … We still have many tents here. They’ll have to go."
For the record, that’s the same Occupy movement that’s been praised by Warren and panned by Brown — proof Huff may need to do more to keep politics and her career separate.