Nussbaum Blasts Media Bosses p. 11

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By: DOROTHY GIOBBE

FORMER CLINTON WHITE House counsel Bernard W. Nussbaum launched a bitter tirade against several large media companies and said that top executives should be subjected to the same degree of scrutiny as public officials.
Nussbaum, speaking on a media ethics panel at the New York State Bar Association annual meeting, suggested that influential editorial writers and newspaper publishers publicly disclose the details of their financial portfolios and personal lives.
“The New York Times is an institution, which is run by Mr. Sulzberger, and has enormous impact in our society, even if you don’t buy the New York Times,” Nussbaum said.
“I think those people who run those institutions . . . should be as accountable as any public official who has enormous impact in our society.”
In particular, Nussbaum singled out Times editorial page editor Howell Raines. Nussbaum argued that Raines should be subjected to the rigor of public scrutiny which is routine for high office holders and their appointees.
“I would like to know Howell Raines’ investment portfolio, with respect to some of the editorials that are written in the New York Times,” Nussbaum said. “Is it influencing him, is it not?
“He’s a major figure in our society. Why shouldn’t I know what Howell Raines is investing his money in? You want to know what Bill Clinton, or Dan Glickman, the Secretary of Agriculture, is investing his money in, why can’t I know what portfolio Howell Raines has?”
When contacted by E&P, Raines said he did not wish to comment on Nussbaum’s statements.
Responding to a question from a fellow panelist, Nussbaum argued that such disclosure in the private sector would not conflict with First Amendment concerns.
“You’re not stopping them from printing anything ? they can print anything they want in the New York Times ? just let the publisher and the editorial editor release the same kind of information that public officials release,” he said.
Nussbaum, who served as White House counsel from January 1993 to the beginning of April 1994, also said that media executives should be forthcoming about all aspects of their personal lives.
“People like Rupert Murdoch, and Howell Raines, and Arthur Sulzberger have much more power in our society than the Secretary of Agriculture, or the counsel to the President, or anybody like that,” Nussbaum said.
“It would be interesting to know about their private lives ? what affairs they had, did they ever lie to their draft boards? Did they ever smoke marijuana? Did they ever cheat on their wives? But you don’t see that.”
Nussbaum, now in private practice in New York City at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz, sounded somewhat resigned when asked how elected officials should respond if confronted by the media with potentially embarrassing personal information.
“Two years ago, I would have said don’t talk, keep quiet,” Nussbaum said. “Today I would say you damn well better talk to the press immediately about the issue.
“You must try to get out front of any issue which the press thinks is relevant, and the press thinks any issue is relevant about your personal life.
“There is nothing that is hidden; there is nothing that is sacred.”
Former White House counsel says news execs should reveal details of their financial portfolios and personal lives
“I think those people who run those institutions . . . should be as accountable as any public official who has enormous impact in our society.”
?(? Bernard Nussbaum, former White House counsel) [Caption]
?( In particular, Nussbaum singled out New York Times editorial page editor Howell Raines, who, he argued, should be subjected to the rigor of public scrutiny which is routine for high ofice holders and their appointees) [Photo & Caption]

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