To think that the networks canceled soap operas as the viewership declined. Maybe they should have reconsidered that for if they were still on the air they could provide a type of education for the masses.
I read this article in this morning's Times and I was repulsed beyond belief as to the level of idiocy the Times has partaken in to the point I am beginning to excuse Judith Miller for her bullshit reporting that contributed to the run up for the Iraq war as that is how repulsed I am. Dear God what the fuck is going on in this country?
Given currently the disdain and distrust the current occupant in the White House has for the press, particularly the failing New York Times to find themselves in this mess I am not sure how I feel or how to respond.
The story is below and given the current highly charged environment regarding #MeToo I am again not sure what to say about this 22 year old girl engaging in what was clearly a confusing flirtation that escalated into a sexual relationship that in all appearance was mutually beneficial. I am disgusted at the man but the young woman is a product of a generation of Millennials that clearly did not benefit from all the information and education that they claim makes them smarter and better than those who walked before. I guess not when one is fucking the boss so to speak clearly someone knew the rules and then promptly ignored them. Or in fact it shows that they are as ignorant and oblivious to societal norms than those Boomers they despise.
Then we have the varying press organizations that this young lady churned through on her climb to the top, including at age 24 being in the cohort of Journalists that were up for a Pulitzer Prize, an award that many more her senior with longer more established careers could only wish. Again at some time did anyone think that this girl with limited experience would have such knowledge and insight into a highly closed and secretive organization as the CIA? Come on this is an are you fucking kidding me moment. They either suspected and did not care and used the girl which may explain the revolving door of her career for one so young which should have begun in positions of more drudgery and less glamour but then those are for those without "sources."
And while I am trying to understand what this homely girl with such opportunity would find herself swayed by the charms of a sophisticated worldly and very married man is something in which to be appalled, I remind myself of Bill Clinton and those who walked this same path. And then we have the Editors and Associates at the varying Press Organization seeing no problem with the relationship and in turn enabling her to continue using the man for at best feedback and at worse a source. Really you just believe a 24 year old of any gender going: "We are just fuck buddies and no we never talk about work and shit." I can say that I have never read any of this girls work in any of the outlets short of the New York Times and this confirms I never will, but the Times utterly has thrown me for a loop with this a fucking cover story no less!
This group seems to have forgotten past sins and recriminations. For the record ,many believed Judith Miller used sex and sexuality to garner her stories which she has repeatedly denied. Have you seen Ms. Miller this is no beauty contestant (yes I am a bitch) but despite her fraudulent reporting I figured that was a sin enough but now it makes me question that as well. Again I cannot lay blame to men in every scenario and even I have believed that fucking the boss would be a good idea. But I too was 24 years old and had no support network or mentor to assist otherwise. Ah yes let's blame the 70s, the era in which I was raised.
I am ashamed and embarrassed for all women, myself included. But the reality is that clearly no one learns anything from past mistakes. I did and I have never slept with a boss since I did at 24 and whom promptly fired me when I finally WOKE UP told the HR department when I realized what was going on, so bitch please even I figured it out! Yes folks #MeToo and all that but I get it and did then. So the thought of using that as a negotiating position or even believing that a married man or anyone my superior in a workplace gives a flying fuck, other than a fuck, is not something that some 30 plus years of living has proven me otherwise. And there is has been ample story after story since my youth about this. I thought you Millennials were fucking geniuses! Well got the fuck part right! Men are sick fucks and women grow up. But the Times in their desperate appeal to draw millennial hired this idiot and that other moron, Bari Weiss, who has made the Times Review page on Sunday utterly unreadable. It used to be the first page I would go to (well right after the late Bill Cunningham's street style) and read at length. Today I glance and toss it aside as it is waste bin reading. The rest of the Sunday Times begins on the front page and ends in the Arts which still holds a place of investment. Even the Business section another favorite is eroding in interest but hey my Sunday mornings are taken up with less reading time! This is where we are trying to find readers who don't read. Good idea its clearly working out. ***By the way I am a print subscriber and have been for over 20 years when the Times went National and it is the one thing I look forward to every day. Even despite the excess Trump coverage I think of this an expensive privilege like good coffee, they are the way to begin a day.
If anything does come out of this I do see a Lifetime movie and I for one can't wait they are equivalent to the daily soaps just condensed on a Saturday night. But The Affair on HBO starts again and that too is pretty much the same thing about people fucking people and fucking people over, same diff. I have watched The 4th Estate on Showtime and aside from being dated as it was filmed during the election, it has nowhere near the scandal or hysteria of the Newsroom. Hell they really need to throw in drunk harasser Glen Thrush and this girl and let the games begin! Shit to think that is the most interesting byline of late that is not about Trump, but about a girl reporter and her bofo/source. Again this is why the Enquirer is still in print.
How an Affair Between a Reporter and a Security Aide Has Rattled Washington Media
By Michael M. Grynbaum, Scott Shane and Emily Flitter
The New York Times
June 24, 2018
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.
The seizure of Ms. Watkins’s records was alarming to First Amendment advocates. With no allegation that classified information was disclosed, they said such a rare and aggressive tactic was unjustified and could undermine journalists’ ability to report on government misconduct.
“The most important issue here remains the seizure of a journalist’s personal communications, which we condemn and believe all Americans should be deeply concerned about,” said Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for The Times.
Strikingly, the case against Mr. Wolfe brings together several of President Trump’s preoccupations: leaks, which he has railed about since taking office; Washington’s permanent bureaucracy, which he derides as the “deep state”; the news media, Mr. Trump’s favorite target; and the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia. The president told reporters that the F.B.I. had arrested “a very important leaker,” prompting Mr. Wolfe’s lawyers to protest that their client was charged with lying, not leaking, and that he has pleaded not guilty.
This account is based on interviews with about three dozen friends and colleagues of Ms. Watkins and Mr. Wolfe, many of whom asked for anonymity to speak candidly about sensitive matters. Ms. Watkins declined to speak on the record, but she has shared many details of her experiences with others who spoke with The Times. Mr. Wolfe’s lawyers declined to comment in detail, saying: “Mr. Wolfe is fighting the charges against him in court, not in the newspaper.”
The revelation of Ms. Watkins’s affair with Mr. Wolfe stunned many journalists who had watched her ascent from college-age intern to rising star in the sensitive field of national security reporting. Their relationship played out in the insular world of Washington, where young, ambitious journalists compete for scoops while navigating relationships with powerful, often older, sources.
Avoiding conflicts of interest is a basic tenet of journalism, and intimate involvement with a source is considered verboten. In her short career, Ms. Watkins disclosed her relationship with Mr. Wolfe to her employers in varying degrees of detail — sometimes citing Mr. Wolfe’s name and position, and sometimes not — while asserting that she had not used him as a source during their relationship.
If the romance with Mr. Wolfe raised any red flags, they were not enough to prevent several news organizations from hiring Ms. Watkins, or to persuade her editors to move her off the intelligence beat. Since meeting Mr. Wolfe in 2013, Ms. Watkins reported on the Senate Intelligence Committee for Politico, BuzzFeed News, The Huffington Post and McClatchy, where her reporting was part of a submission that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
Last fall, after Ms. Watkins and Mr. Wolfe had broken up and while she was still reporting on the intelligence committee for Politico, she briefly dated another staff member at the committee, friends said. That relationship, which has not been previously reported, ended when the two decided not to pursue something more serious.
A Relationship, With Rules
Mr. Wolfe had a sensitive job: head of security at the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he oversaw the handling and distribution of highly classified materials delivered by agencies like the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. It was a high-ranking role that Mr. Wolfe had occupied since before Ms. Watkins was born.
Ms. Watkins told friends that she did not start dating Mr. Wolfe until after she left McClatchy in the fall of 2014, and that when the relationship began, she imposed ground rules: She would tell Mr. Wolfe, “You are not my source,” and occasionally interrupt him if he started discussing his government work.
But sometimes, she admitted, it got complicated: She would make a mental note of tidbits he mentioned offhand, or gossip with him about Capitol Hill, or throw out a fact and gauge his reply.
The relationship has prompted concern in many newsrooms that Ms. Watkins’s conduct has made journalists, and particularly women, vulnerable to unfounded accusations of exchanging sex for information. And it has complicated what would otherwise be a straightforward argument for press advocates protesting the seizure of Ms. Watkins’s emails and phone records.
“It is already clear that Watkins’ highly unethical conduct presents a problem for press defenders,” Michael Goodwin, a New York Post columnist, wrote this month, echoing other right-wing commentators who have criticized Ms. Watkins. “Hers is not the hill they should volunteer to die on.”
Mr. Wolfe, who is married but whose wife now lives in Connecticut, retired quietly in December, shortly after investigators questioned him about possible leaks.
Colleagues of Ms. Watkins describe her as a reporter of unusual talent, who cultivated a wide variety of sources throughout the federal government.
“People all across Washington are in all sorts of various relationships,” Ryan Grim, Ms. Watkins’s former editor at The Huffington Post, said in an interview. “You manage it, you put up walls, but you can’t pretend that you’re not human. Ali is a great reporter and I trust her judgment.”
“What I see is the Trump administration seizing a reporter’s records and tricking the press into writing about her sex life,” added Mr. Grim, who is now the Washington bureau chief of The Intercept. “It’s appalling what the Trump administration is doing and I don’t think you should enable it.”
Relishing the Clandestine
The gray-haired father of two stood out amid the young crowd who gathered for barbecues in Ms. Watkins’s backyard in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington. She introduced him as Jim, her boyfriend.
The son of a Kentucky construction worker, James Anthony Wolfe had spent three decades in charge of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee, which he joined during Ronald Reagan’s administration, after a four-year stint in the Army. He slowly earned the trust of Democratic and Republican officials alike — sometimes sitting in on briefings so sensitive that most aides were asked to leave the room.
Mr. Wolfe relished the clandestine nature of his work — using “jimwolfe007” as his personal email address — and he projected an affable charm. Colleagues said they were dumbfounded by the government’s accusations against him — particularly since it was Mr. Wolfe’s job to arrange meetings with the F.B.I. when other staff members were suspected of leaking.
But one colleague said there was an element of the indictment that was less surprising: that Mr. Wolfe had been having an affair.
When he met Ms. Watkins in the fall of 2013, Mr. Wolfe was married to his second wife, Jane Rhodes Wolfe, a former F.B.I. agent.
Ms. Watkins was in her senior year at Temple University. She grew up in a small eastern Pennsylvania town and apprenticed at local papers before landing a coveted internship at the Washington bureau of McClatchy. In recent years, she has zipped around Washington on a motorcycle, taken boxing lessons and doted on her Husky, Kellan, whom she outfitted with a Putin chew toy.
Ms. Watkins began staking out the committee’s biweekly closed-door business meetings. “She was often the only reporter there as many veteran journalists saw little value in spending hours outside the committee’s high-security offices,” her McClatchy editor, James Asher, would later write in a nominating letter to the Pulitzer judging panel.
Her reporting led to a series in 2014 that revealed the C.I.A. was spying on the Intelligence Committee, which was compiling a critical report on the agency’s use of torture. It earned her a full-time slot at McClatchy after graduation.
It also brought her closer to Mr. Wolfe, who would later text her saying how “proud” he was of her work on the series. In October 2014, after Ms. Watkins had jumped from McClatchy to The Huffington Post, Mr. Wolfe took her to a rooftop bar to celebrate her 23rd birthday; before the night was over, they kissed.
Mr. Wolfe’s private life was already complicated.
In 2004, amid a bitter divorce, he was accused of assault by his first wife, Leslie Adair Wolfe, who sought a protective order and claimed her husband had “threatened me verbally, pushed, shoved, strangled, spit in face” and pulled her down the hallway by her hair, according to court records.
The charges were later dropped by prosecutors, as were other charges that Ms. Wolfe made in 2009 that her former husband had broken into her house, records show. If any serious charges had been successfully prosecuted, Mr. Wolfe might have lost his security clearance.
His lawyers, Benjamin Klubes and Preston Burton, said that Mr. Wolfe “has consistently denied that he ever physically abused his first wife.”
Ms. Watkins told people she was aware of Mr. Wolfe’s messy divorce, but assumed the abuse allegations were unfounded. Instead, she was concerned how a romantic entanglement might affect her journalism.
Relationships between reporters and sources are an art, not a science: In Washington, meals and late nights out with sources are part of a journalist’s job description. But becoming romantically involved is widely viewed as a conflict, opening a journalist to accusations of bias.
Ms. Watkins initially sought advice from a Huffington Post editor, Amanda Terkel, who warned her that critics can use personal relationships against journalists. Editors there decided they were comfortable with her continuing to cover intelligence because Ms. Watkins said she was not using Mr. Wolfe as a source.
Other journalists at the site had managed their own relationships with partners in government: one editor, Sam Stein, was married to a member of the Barack Obama administration, a fact he disclosed in stories.
Ms. Watkins “cared about her craft,” said Mr. Stein, one of her editors at Huffington Post. “She really cared about breaking a good story, a story that had meat on it.”
Her clips caught the attention of BuzzFeed News, which hired her in late 2015. Covering intelligence, including the Senate committee, Ms. Watkins scored a scoop that other news organizations scrambled to match: a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, had met with a Russian spy in 2013.
People at BuzzFeed say they had a general sense of her personal life: During a job interview, Ms. Watkins told Miriam Elder, an editor, that she was dating a man who did intelligence work on Capitol Hill. She said he was not a source, but did not volunteer Mr. Wolfe’s name or title, and the discussion went no further. (Ms. Elder declined to comment, but did not dispute the account.)
Ben Smith, BuzzFeed’s editor in chief, said he believed Ms. Watkins when she said that Mr. Wolfe was not a source. Mr. Smith, in an email, did not condone dating a source, but he expressed a less draconian view about reporters who date within the industry they cover. “Reporters and editors aren’t some kind of priesthood,” he wrote, adding that editors “make these genuinely complex calls on a case-by-case basis.”
Ms. Watkins made another move in May 2017, to Politico, while she and Mr. Wolfe were still together. She has told friends that when she was hired, she informed a Politico editor, Paul Volpe, that she was dating a man in the intelligence community, though she again did not volunteer Mr. Wolfe’s name or his position. A spokesman for Politico, Brad Dayspring, said only that she “did not disclose the personal nature of her relationship early on in her tenure.”
All sides, however, agree that Ms. Watkins first identified Mr. Wolfe by name to her editors after an unsettling episode that left Ms. Watkins frightened and her managers confused. It was the first concrete indication that her involvement with Mr. Wolfe might have serious consequences.
A Bizarre Tale
On the morning of June 2, 2017, a shaken Ms. Watkins approached her Politico editors with a bizarre tale.
The day before, she explained, she had received an anonymous email from a man who claimed to work for the government and wanted to meet. Over drinks at a Dupont Circle bar, the man quizzed Ms. Watkins about her sources on a story about Russian espionage. He then stunned her by reciting the itinerary of her recent vacation to Spain, including stops at Heathrow Airport and the Canary Islands.
He also knew with whom she had traveled: Mr. Wolfe.
The man said he had temporarily relocated to Washington to work on leak investigations, and asked Ms. Watkins to help him identify government officials who were leaking to the press. “It would turn your world upside down” if this turned up in The Washington Post, the man said to Ms. Watkins, who told her editors she believed he was threatening to expose her personal relationship.
Ms. Watkins later went back to the bar and obtained a receipt with the man’s name on it: Jeffrey A. Rambo, a Customs and Border Protection agent stationed in California.
Two former Justice Department officials said there was a surge last year in government personnel assigned to hunt for leaks — a priority of the Trump White House — but a current official said there is no evidence that Mr. Rambo was ever detailed to the F.B.I.
Mr. Rambo, reached by phone, declined to comment. A Border Protection spokesman said the matter has been referred to the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility.
Inside Politico, there was curiosity over why a border patrol agent appeared to be targeting one of its reporters. But editors were also surprised to learn that the man Ms. Watkins had been dating was a powerful official on a committee that she covered.
If Politico editors had reservations about Ms. Watkins’s relationship with Mr. Wolfe, they were not reflected in her assignments: over the following six months, she continued to write about the work of the Senate Intelligence Committee, including a closed-door session with Corey Lewandowski and a meeting with John Podesta.
By August, Ms. Watkins told friends that she and Mr. Wolfe had broken up. He had been spooked by her meeting with Mr. Rambo, and was refusing to disclose their relationship to his own employers in the Senate.
In the fall, Ms. Watkins started dating a different staff member from the committee. She told others that she had informed a Politico editor who did not object. But Mr. Dayspring, the Politico spokesman, said: “Politico editors were not made aware of this relationship.”
About the same time, Mr. Wolfe, too, appeared to be moving on. He gave another young female reporter covering the Intelligence Committee some valuable information, according to a person with direct knowledge of the interaction. Then he sent her a series of personal nighttime texts, including one at 10 p.m. asking her what she was up to. She deflected his inquiries and never got another tip from him, the person said.
Ms. Watkins told some friends that she wanted off the beat, but that her editors were eager for scoops about the Trump-Russia investigation. (In a statement, Politico said Ms. Watkins’s work was “managed accordingly” after her disclosure about Mr. Wolfe.)
On Twitter, she wrote about the joys of reporting on the committee.
“The CIA once told me I have ‘an emotional dependence’ on covering” it, Ms. Watkins wrote as she prepared to join The Times last December, adding: “I thought they were wrong until I have to leave (they were a *little* right.) I’ve loved getting to know this weird hallway.”
A Visit From the F.B.I.
In December, before she started work at The Times, Ms. Watkins told the paper’s national security editor, Amy Fiscus, about her previous relationships with staff members of the Senate committee, and about her encounter with Mr. Rambo. Ms. Fiscus relayed the information to the paper’s Washington bureau chief, Elisabeth Bumiller.
Ms. Fiscus and Ms. Bumiller said in interviews that they did not feel her past relationships should be a barrier to hiring her, because Ms. Watkins said that Mr. Wolfe had not been a source during their relationship, and because she would not be covering the Senate Intelligence Committee. They did not go back to ask Ms. Watkins’s previous employers about how she handled her involvement with Mr. Wolfe, and Ms. Bumiller did not inform other top newsroom leaders of the relationship. Ms. Watkins was also interviewed by several other senior editors before being hired.
On Dec. 14, days before her start date, Ms. Watkins was approached by two F.B.I. agents with questions about Mr. Wolfe, a conversation she immediately reported to her editors in the Times Washington bureau. In February, however, Ms. Watkins received a letter that she did not tell her editors about: a notice from the Justice Department, informing her that investigators had seized some of her email and phone records.
Obtaining a reporter’s private communications is so unusual that it is often reported as news, and media organizations generally protest such actions. But on the advice of her lawyer, Ms. Watkins kept the information to herself. She did not tell The Times until nearly four months later, when a story by her colleagues about Mr. Wolfe’s arrest was imminent; in a statement at the time, Ms. Murphy, the Times spokeswoman, said the paper “obviously would have preferred to know.”
The Times declined to comment on its internal review. Since Mr. Wolfe’s arrest, the accuracy of Ms. Watkins’s articles for The Times and other publications has not been challenged. In recent days, she has been out of the office on a preplanned vacation.
On Feb. 15, two days after the Justice Department sent the letter notifying her that it had seized her records, Ms. Watkins sent an email to her colleagues in the Washington bureau. She had brought in chocolates for sharing — “from an old source who somehow thought it wouldn’t be creepy to bring them to a dinner, stupidly and unintentionally scheduled on valentine’s day,” she wrote.
According to a person familiar with the source, the dinner companion was not Mr. Wolfe, but a different Washington national security veteran.
“Sigh,” Ms. Watkins wrote at the end of her note about the chocolates. “Eat them!”