ADN unethical? Newspaper preps hit job on governor as reporter fails to disclose conflict due to activist spouse

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The old saying “If it weren’t for double standards, they wouldn’t have any standards at all” has resurfaced in the way the largest newspaper in Alaska is covering political races.

The campaign for Gov. Mike Dunleavy for governor has sent an open letter to the publisher and owner of the Anchorage Daily News, pointing out that a reporter who is preparing a hit piece on the governor is married to a political activist who is openly supporting Democrat Les Gara for governor.

The reporter is Sean Maguire, and the political activist is his wife Juneau Assemblywoman Carole Triem.

It’s not the first time the ADN reporting staff has had perceived conflicts of interest in its reporting. In 2017, the wife of ADN editor David Hulen signed the recall petition against Dunleavy, while Hulen oversaw news coverage of that recall effort.

In the letter sent to the campaign’s entire media email list, spokesman Andrew Jensen said that reporter Maguire’s wife is actively supporting Gara on social media, has sign-waved for Gara’s campaign the day before the primary, and has strongly encouraged people to vote for Gara. She has made a number of comments on the record that are critical of Gov. Mike Dunleavy and former Gov. Bill Walker. She also supports Mary Peltola for Congress.

Carole Triem boosts for candidate Les Gara on social media. She is a member of the Juneau City and Borough Assembly.

This presents an undisclosed conflict of interest with Maguire, Jensen wrote, and is problematic for ethics in the journalism field:

“According to the New York Times Handbook for Ethical Journalism regarding conflicts of interest, ‘Staff members must be sensitive that perfectly proper political activity by their spouses, family or companions may nevertheless create conflicts of interest or the appearances of conflict. When such a possibility arises, the staff member should advise his or her department head and the standards editor or the opinion editor or the managing editor. Depending on the circumstances, the staff member may have to recuse himself or herself from certain coverage or even move to a job unrelated to the activities in question.’”

Leftists have tried to create a scandal around Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas because his wife, Virginia Thomas, is a conservative activist. Leftists have called for Thomas to be impeached for the offense of being married to an activist. But that’s the standard only applied to conservatives.

Spokesman Jensen continued, “In light of this guidance from the New York Times, it is clear that at a minimum Ms. Triem’s political activity creates the appearance of a conflict of interest for Mr. Maguire’s reporting, if not an actual conflict.”

The campaign spokesman, who was previously the managing editor for the Alaska Journal of Commerce (owned by the ADN), then challenged ADN owner Ryan Binkley, publisher Andy Pennington, and editor Hulen if Maguire to reveal whether Maguire had disclosed this conflict of interest when he was hired, and to explain the rationale for assigning him to cover the gubernatorial election in spite of the conflict.

Maguire is a politics and general assignment reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Juneau who previously reported for KTUU. He accepted a position at the ADN in July and began at the newspaper on Aug. 15. The story he is working on appears to be about how people have left the professional office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy to accept positions working on his reelection campaign. Maguire has called all the people on a list at the Alaska Public Offices Commission that shows the disbursements from the campaign to individuals. He has also called volunteers.

Such a practice of moving from the professional offices to campaign work is not uncommon. Gov. Bill Walker hired John-Henry Heckendorn during his governorship, and then Heckendorn left to run his failed reelection campaign in 2018, after having worked for the radical leftist governor as a senior policy and political adviser. The ADN never reported on that or other incidences involving Walker’s campaign.

The Maguire story, which has yet to appear on the ADN website, may reinforce the notion that the newspaper is working to take down the Republican governor, just as it worked in 2014 to take down Republican Gov. Sean Parnell.

The Jensen letter in its entirety:

26 COMMENTS

  1. What good is ANY politician who starts out with the basic premise that it’s OK to kill (murder) babies in the womb up to and including during the birthing process. Without life there is no need for politicians. For me it all starts with pro-life, you have to pass that hurdle first and foremost If you’re pro-choice you will NEVER get my vote no matter what the rest of your platform is. If you don’t care about life and protecting the unborn, you have no business making any laws or other decisions for anybody. You don’t value life. What else don’t you value? Protecting LGBTQ+ and not the unborn is a strike against any politician in MHO.

  2. Ethics and the Anchorage Daily News? Gimme a break. That is the definition of an oxymoron.
    I had to read about the pedophile Byron Mallott from an out-of-state source. When Walker folded his campaign because of pedophilia in his Lt. Governor’s office, the ADN wouldn’t cover the story. I read about it from news sources in FL TX NY and WA. Bunch of cowards work the ADN.

  3. I’m really sorry, but the story here is pretty weak, including (maybe especially) the reference to Justice Thomas and his wife’s advocacy history (which includes having had the phone number to the former president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows). Should the ADN disclose that his wife is a liberal and supports Gara and Petola? Seems likely that could be assumed by even the less astute readers and would be a given for MRAK readers. His wife has an opinion—should that disqualify every journalist? Mrs. Downing has an opinion and routinely runs “hit” pieces on all things liberal—see the headline story about Dunbar. The real issue should be is the (yet to be published) story true and accurate? If it’s accurate, that’s good journalism. If it’s false, that’s bad journalism and could go far as to be libel.

    I suspect Mrs. Thomas’ opinion carry’s much more sway over the outcomes that impact our lives. She does more than support her preferred candidates on social media.

  4. “The only candidate that will protect the rights of LGBTQ+” I don’t even know what this means anymore. Were the rights of LGBTQ+ taken away under Dunleavy? Does she mean Gara will allow kids to be asked if they prefer different pronouns in school? Does she mean that Gara will protect the right of trans males in female sports? If that’s what they mean, are they afraid to admit it? If they are afraid to admit that, then how protective of those rights are they really?

  5. In my opinion, Ryan Binkley and his editorial board at ADN probably can’t even spell the word journalism.let alone know what it is.
    My question is this: Why are the Binkley’s so against Governor Dunleavy, I thought they Conservatives.
    I use my neighbor’s ADN paper to clean my windows and they aren’t even good for that job.

  6. Mrs. Maguire is the woman who had her ear drum broken in a capital city sexual assault. The assailant was a sexual partner and a legislator; one of the three disgraced legislators Westlake, Fansler and Parish, and they all marched in pink hats shaped like a uterus (while Bernie Sanders beat the drum, I suppose). She also was featured in a Juneau Empire photo of an anti-Dunleavy protest (2019, I think) at the Governor’s house, and she was quoted as saying the Governor is a poor or terrible manager. She was an official at the Alaska Department of Commerce at that point, and now is an official with Alaska Fish & Game – probably now hiding in a union-protected (classified) job. (ADF&G hides Democrats during Republican administrations.) Governor Dunleavy does himself no favor through her employment, but he also does no favor for Juneau! For all that she is a nice person. She is also on the Juneau Assembly of course. While having the state capital in Juneau is an economic mainstay for this city it’s also true that having so much government here is a political effectuation that removes most mainstream Alaskan character from our city. The CBJ Assembly approved the Paris Climate Accord, refused to break it’s close relationship with Vladivostok, and gave a grant of money borrowed from US taxpayers to “teach drag queen lessons.” For many long-time Juneau residents you cannot take the capital away from us too soon. Is anyone surprised that there are linkages between the biased media, the Gara campaign, and Juneau city government? Please make sure you elect Republicans this November!!

  7. This is nothing new and I am happy to finally see Gov. Dunleavy calling the ADN out. Most all their articles are from WAPO, AP and other leftist news organizations. The bias is in your face with this paper. You have to be asleep not to notice it.

  8. Kinda funny that this ADN reporter even runs afoul of ethical standards espoused by the New York Times!

    • The platinum standard beats the gold standard. ADN. You can always count on them to cover-up the trash and crap that Democrats engage in.

  9. Ethics on the Last Frontier–truly a theme worthy of the consideration of the Alaska Humanities Forum! There is plenty of good reading on the topic of ethics if you care to delve into the Great Books of the Western World or maybe Wikipedia. But why burn yourself out by reading, you’d only come away feeling miserable about all your shortcomings!

    Considering that the issue has been talked to death, it’s no wonder that we find “traces” of unethical conduct! This is the 21st Century after all: we are no closer to living the good life as a species than we were since we first learned to lie and cheat following our expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

    I’m not so foolish as to think that the news media, including Must Read Alaska, is beyond being biased. Nobody but losers and suckers would believe that the news media is without “blemish.” I don’t know what joy is had cudgeling a dead horse; but look, there is joy to be had for everybody! I’d be happy as a clam at high water, Suzanne, if you just gave me the salacious news and left the rest to my biased “speculation.”

  10. I continue to get emails from the ADN wanting me to sign up for a subscription and I continue to delete them, even tried blocking them but still get those emails. And this story is one of the reasons why I can no longer read that liberal rag.

  11. Does the ADN really have any impact in forming opinions about anything anymore?
    Conservatives don’t read it.
    Liberal don’t really read.
    Who cares?
    You are giving them attention they don’t merit – they are sooo 2003, no?

    • Bill Walker and Lisa Murkowski read it. And tell the editors what to print, or omit. Works wonderfully for them.

  12. The article mentions leftist’s complaining Clarence Thomas’ conflict with his wife’s activism is a “double-standard.” Does that mean if the left retracts its complaints of Thomas’s conflict then we would retract our complaint of the ADN reporter Sean Maguire?
    .
    Can anyone mention the name of one person, anywhere, who has no political ideology? That would be impossible since being unplugged from politics is, in itself, a political position. As to ADN, does anyone think Maguire would, or could, be politically neutral? Really?

    • Jim, could be because he is taller then Les and not a snake like Bill? Just guessing here Sweeny, what do you think? Oh wait, I get it, you think all women are always about “Kill Baby Kill”, right? I see now, you think every woman is all about abortion 24-7 and that is all they think about, Right? Please correct me if I’m misunderstanding you here because I know lots of women and they seem to be more diverse and deeply rooted in their opinions and beliefs then some stupid Democrat or Walker campaign add.
      Thanks for responding back to me Jim, it will help clear things up.

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