The media wants us to sympathize with a reporter who used sex to get government secrets.
Why is all the Washington media “rattled” by the exposure of a young female reporter getting sexually involved with a fifty-something bureaucrat? What are they hiding? Is this common behavior between aging deep state government agents and young, attractive deep state PR agents who call themselves “reporters”? The scandal of a reporter operating in this way seems secondary to the Washington media to the “scandal” of the government exposing what they were doing together.
The New York Times reports, “How an Affair Between a Reporter and a Security Aide Has Rattled Washington Media.”
The pearl bracelet arrived in May 2014, in the spring of Ali Watkins’s senior year in college, a graduation gift from a man many years her senior. It was the sort of bauble that might imply something more deeply felt than friendship — but then again, might not.
Ms. Watkins, then a 22-year-old intern in the Washington bureau of McClatchy Newspapers, was not entirely surprised. She had met James Wolfe, a 50-something senior aide to the Senate Intelligence Committee, while hunting for scoops on Capitol Hill. He had become a helpful source, but there were times when he seemed interested in other pursuits — like when he presented her with a Valentine’s Day card.
On that occasion, Ms. Watkins explained to Mr. Wolfe that their relationship was strictly professional. The bracelet suggested that her message had not gotten through. She asked an editor for advice, and was told that as long as the gift was not exorbitant — no stock in a company, the editor joshed — it was fine.
Ms. Watkins kept the bracelet.
The story of what happened next — of a three-year affair that unfolded between a young reporter and a government official with access to top-secret information — is now part of a federal investigation that has rattled the world of Washington journalists and the sources they rely on.
Mr. Wolfe, 57, was arrested on June 7 and charged with lying to investigators about his contacts with Ms. Watkins and three other journalists. Ms. Watkins, a Washington-based reporter for The New York Times, had her email and phone records seized by federal prosecutors.
Now 26, Ms. Watkins was hired by The Times to cover federal law enforcement in December, about four months after she has said her relationship with Mr. Wolfe ended. Times officials are currently examining her work history and what influence the relationship may have had on her reporting. The Times is also reviewing her decision, on advice of her personal lawyer, not to immediately tell her editors about a letter she received in February informing her that her records had been seized.
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