Washington Post reporter Shailagh Murray’s appointment as Vice President Joseph Biden’s new communication director is not an unprecedented example of a journalist going to work for a politician. But what is potentially unprecdented is the human resources headaches her job interview may have created.
Just over two weeks ago Murray, who is on the Congressional beat, was covering the White House’s budget battle with Congress, and specifically her new boss’s role in trying to hammer out an agreement on both sides. The former Time journalist she’s replacing at Biden’s office, Jay Carney who left to become White House press secretary, stepped down on January 27. And given all the security background checks and political vetting involved, it would be understandable if the White House has spent much of that time hiring. But the key question is when Murray started talking to the White House about a job and not just as a reporter.
The Washington Post's associate editor Kevin Merida announced Murray's departure to the Post newsroom, writing, "There are few reporters more skillful than Shailagh when it comes to connecting politics and policy in Washington," according to his memo obtained by The New York Times.
We called Merida and a Post spokerperson to ask when Murray told her bosses that she was up for a job with the people she was covering as well as what their policy would be for a reporter in such a situation. To those questions, the Post's communications manager Jennifer Lee responded: "We wish Shailagh well on her new assignment. We do not comment on personnel matters."
Until we get a more robust explanation from the Post (Update: They declined further comment, including answering whether newsroom policy prohibits reporters from soliciting work from people they cover) here are some of the recent stories Murray filed for the paper.
March 2: Murray co-wrote an article about the budget battle between the White House and Republican leaders titled "Obama signs short-term spending bill," which mentions Vice President Biden's plans to meet with leaders from both parties to come up with a budget plan.
February 7: under the headline "Federal judicial vacancies reaching crisis point" Murray co-wrote a story about how Republican's "delaying tactics" were preventing President Obama's nominees from being able to serve.
On February 11: under the headline "GOP proposes dramatic spending cuts" Murray co-wrote a story about how Republicans were putting "Top White House priorities... under the knife."
On February 17: under the headline "Boehner says any stopgap spending bill must trim federal budget further," Murray reports on more budget-related disputes between Republicans and the White House.