When a spouse becomes involved in politics.
In October of 2011, All Things Considered host Michele Norris’ husband accepted a position with President Obama’s re-election campaign.
As Michele explained in a note to the NPR staff, she raised the potential conflict of interest before it became an issue:
“I need to share some news and I wanted to make sure my NPR family heard this first. Last week, I told news management that my husband, Broderick Johnson, has just accepted a senior adviser position with the Obama Campaign. After careful consideration, we decided that Broderick’s new role could make it difficult for me to continue hostingATC. Given the nature of Broderick’s position with the campaign and the impact that it will most certainly have on our family life, I will temporarily step away from my hosting duties until after the 2012 elections. I will be leaving the host chair at the end of this week, but I’m not going far. I will be wearing a different hat for a while, producing signature segments and features and working on new reporting projects. While I will of course recuse myself from all election coverage, there’s still an awful lot of ground that I can till in this interim role.
“This has all happened very quickly, but working closely with NPR management, we’ve been able to make a plan that serves the show, honors the integrity of our news organization and is best for me professionally and personally.”
- Michele recognized that her husband’s position in the Obama campaign would unduly complicate ATC‘s coverage of the presidential election.
- She appropriately raised the issue with senior management before her husband formally took the job.
- A plan was put together that would allow her to continue being a key contributor to NPR’s news operations, but would also separate her from its coverage of politics.
November 28, 2011