A political reporter for the New York Observer has quit, citing the paper’s close relationship with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Ross Barkan, the paper’s national political reporter, made his announcement on his Twitter account, writing, “Personal news: I'm announcing today that my last day at the New York Observer will be April 27th.”
Barkan told Politico that the Observer’s recent endorsement of Trump – along with The National Enquirer, the only papers to do so – was a factor in his decision: “It was a decision I’ve been wrestling with for more than a day and more than a week. I didn’t expect [the endorsement] was coming. It blindsided me.”
Jared Kushner, the owner of the paper, is married to Ivanka Trump (Trump’s eldest daughter).
Barkan also criticized Observer editor in chief Ken Kurson for helping Kushner write Trump’s March 21 AIPAC speech. Barkan said, “The AIPAC situation was very troubling. Anyone knows that an editor in chief should not be reviewing the speech of a presidential candidate. I don’t care if it’s Trump or Bernie Sanders.”
He told Politico that the “AIPAC situation did not please” the rest of the Observer’s politics desk, including political editor Jill Jorgensen and reporter Will Bredderman.
When it was first reported that the Observer had a hand in writing Trump’s speech, the Huffington Post noted that it “raises questions of conflict of interest given that he also oversees election coverage.” Kurson told Huffington Post: “It’s a complicated world and I don’t intend to let the eleven people who have appointed themselves the journalist police tell me, at age 47, how to behave or to whom I’m allowed to speak.”
In 2014, ice cream shop manager and political science major Bill Gifford told the New York Times that Kurson had approached him to write “a smear piece” about New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is suing Trump over his controversial Trump University business.
Gifford declined to write the piece, but the Observer later published a piece the Times described as “a searing, 7,000-word indictment of Mr. Schneiderman, portraying him as vindictive and politically opportunistic” that “also included a robust defense of Donald J. Trump.”