Full Disclosure

A couple of weeks ago, Slate’s Mickey Kaus set off a mild string of firecrackers among the huffier “serious journalism” fetishists by noting on his blog that he’d donated $300 to John Kerry’s campaign.

Good for Kaus. Damn good for Kaus.

No, not for the donation (it’s his money, and he can do what he wants with it, including giving it to a guy he can’t stand), but for doing what every other political reporter in the country ought to be doing: admitting up-front which side he’s on.

It’s a hard-and-fast ethical standard among financial reporters and columnists that they disclose any personal stake they have in companies, funds, or people that they’re covering. Why should news writers be any different? Would the republic collapse if Peter Jennings announced that he wouldn’t vote for George W. Bush even if he were offered a lifetime supply of aged Coulommiers brie? Would Jennings’ viewers really be so mis-served to know in straightforward terms where he’s coming from?

If James Glassman is expected to reveal in every column which companies he’s invested in, why shouldn’t Dana Milbank and Adam Nagourney have full-disclosure blurbs about how they voted in the last couple of elections, to say nothing about how they plan to vote this year? Is there any good reason why not?

Other than all those reporters not being honest enough to admit where their sensibilities lie?

Mickey Kaus is one of the best damn political reporters on the planet, and it didn’t take one iota away from his reputation when he put his cards on the table. If anything, it added to Kaus’ trustworthiness. His collegues, especially those in the mis-named “prestige” press, would do very well to follow his example.

Along those lines, here’s my humbly-submitted full disclosure for the day: I’ll be voting for Herman Cain in tomorrow’s Georgia Senate primary.