I don’t think she should be doing that,” he said. “That’s not the job of a journalist.”
“Journalists ought to, as much as they can, stay out of the scene they are reporting on,” said Ben Bagdikian, dean of the journalism school at UC Berkeley and former ombudsman for the Post. “And they ought not to keep from the public things that they know.”
On Monday, ABC’s “World News Tonight” reported the incident as a “tell”–an anchorman simply reading the network position on the incident. Tom Jarrell, sitting in for vacationing Peter Jennings, read:
“An ABC News statement today confirmed earlier today that correspondent Barbara Walters passed messages on to the White House from Manucher Ghorbanifar, the key middleman in the Iranian arms deal. They were passed on at his request after Walters interviewed Ghorbanifar and Saudi businessman Adnan Khashoggi last fall.
“ABC news today said its policy expressly limits journalists cooperating with government agencies unless threats to human life are involved. Ms. Walters believed that to be the case with the Americans held hostage in Lebanon. Ms. Walters understands, the statement continued, that the transmission of her information to the President was in violation of a literal interpretation of news policy.”
Walters was not available for comment Tuesday. Her publicist referred all calls to ABC News spokesmen who read a prepared statement contending that the 10-year ABC veteran passed the information to the White House because she believed it “could be of assistance to the remaining hostages (in Lebanon).” She told her editors at ABC what she was doing, but did not tell ABC management, according to the statement.