New York Observer Reporter Who Resigned Over Trump Ties And Endorsement: For Me, "A Line Had Been Crossed”

Ross Barkan: “I Expected Our Newspaper, Given Our Deep Ties ... That We Would Perhaps Remain Neutral”

From the April 17 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:

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BRIAN STELTER (HOST): Ross, you were the national political reporter there, you're leaving in two weeks. Why did you decide to resign from the Observer

ROSS BARKAN: Well, Brian, it was a confluence of factors. One factor, obviously, was the endorsement. I expected our newspaper, given our deep ties, or assumed naively, that we would perhaps remain neutral. I was blindsided by the endorsement. But really a bigger issue, which maybe got lost in the shuffle a bit, was the fact that it was reported that our editor-in-chief had a role in advising Donald Trump before he delivered a speech in front of the AIPAC conference last month, and for me -- 

STELTER: Right, that he was looking at the draft of the speech and he has said he will not doing that again. The Observer has said the staff was free to report on Trump. Do you not believe that the handcuffs are off and that you are allowed to cover Trump like any other candidate?

BARKAN: I would like to believe that I am, and I want to believe the organization. I have a lot of respect for the organization. I just felt my position was becoming untenable, and it was time for me to go. I think the Observer probably still can cover national politics and do it well. But given what had happened, for me personally, a line had been crossed and I thought it was time for myself to depart. 

STELTER: Do you expect other staffers to leave as well? Other political reporters and editors?

BARKAN: I don't want to speak for them. It'll be their personal decision. I know it's been a trying month, a trying few months at the Observer. At the same time, that's their decision and I'll let them announce it when they're good and ready. 

STELTER: It sure is a complex ethical question. You don't have a next job lined up do you? So, this has been tough for you personally, hasn't it?

BARKAN: It's been a little difficult. Certainly, I don't have a job lined up right now. There's been a little interest, but nothing set in stone. I don't know where I'm going next. So, financially, sure, it's not the best thing. At the same time, I've gotten a lot of support from this, so I can't say it's been horrendous. It's been a very interesting few days, I’ll put it that way. 

STELTER: I bet it has. If nothing else, it's a reminder to pay attention to owns the media you're reading and watching. Ross, thank you so much for being here.


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