This week, Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon resigned after admitting that she had an affair with an American official she was covering in Iraq. The story broke after several risqué e-mails became public. There is speculation that the official, Brett McGurk, who is being considered as President Obama’s next Ambassador to Iraq, might be in jeopardy of losing the appointment because of this latest news. It is worth noting that while both were married to other people when the relationship started, they divorced their respective spouses and recently married.
Ethics in politics is often discussed so to see headlines about ethics in journalism was an interesting diversion. Poynter Institute is an internationally recognized journalism organization and their ethics expert, Kelly McBride said she receives “5 to 10” calls every year from people seeking advice on how to deal with journalists who are having relationships with people they’re covering, which includes examples from a newspaper political reporter involved with a county chairman to a health reporter and a hospital public relations officer. “It happens all the time, because people fall in love,” McBride said.
As a divorced woman serving as the city’s CEO, I was not faced with Chon’s ethical dilemma. Maybe I was too old. In fact, fostering any personal relationship was nearly impossible. The scrutiny and eagle eye attention from the public can be a deterrent for any prospective suitor. This is just one more disadvantage of being a baby boomer or more accurately an aging woman. This may sound strangely personal to some readers but running for office can be a personal relationship bust. Truth be told, from my experience personal/romantic relationships are difficult to establish and are virtually nonexistent.
Often times it wasn’t clear to me if any social inquiry was professional, personal or political. So, “No thank you” became the safe answer to any flirtatious inquiries. But I loved the job and for eight years there was little room for anything other than the work. Good thing because I definitely didn’t find love in the workplace.
Let this be yet another lesson to women who seek public office. In addition to making personal financial plans, networking with friends and family, establishing political connections, reading the polls, raising money and understanding the policy and campaign issues, my advice would be to get your love life in order before you qualify for office otherwise you may find yourself shrugging your shoulders and humming Janet Jackson’s, “That’s the Way Love Goes”.