Numerous White House correspondents violated the Society of Professional Journalists ethics code last summer when they visited the vice president's residence for the Biden Beach Boardwalk Bash. The water gun party was not a news event and as MSNBC reported this week was mainly for "schmoozing and games." Many of the participants brought their families to the party and for the most part, the media has not reported the names of the journalists who attended.
In fact, it appears, the media purposely kept the names out of the public eye.
According to the White House, among those who attended were Chuck Todd, Savannah Guthrie, Wolf Blitzer, Gloria Borger, Ann Compton, Claire Shipman, Bob Schieffer, Norah O'Donnell, Chris Matthews, Suzanne Malveaux, and Rachel Maddow. In addition to the reporters and news show hosts that attended, producers from the major networks also attended. Including the executive producers for both Face the Nation and Meet the Press. JJChronicles.com was able to find only one Fox News employee as participating and that was Ed Henry. It is unclear if he was at Fox News when he received the invite or at CNN. The party was held on June 11, 2011 and the announcement Henry was moving from CNN to Fox News on June 20, 2011.
Many of these reporters took children and spouses to the party further compromising their independence and objectivity.
Broadcast journalists were not the only ways to violate the Society of Professional Journalistsrecommended ethical standards. Reporters from the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Times and web-based media outlets also attended.
Repeated attempts to get the cost of the party and the names of the invitees failed. Thus far, JJChronicles has not been able to find any other Fox employee who attended the party, but work to find those who attended continues. Without the invite list, JJChronicles cannot determine if the vice-president simply did not invite Fox News employees or those invited employees decided not to attend. If Fox News employees are not on the list, it would further appear that the invite is a reward for favorable coverage.
The journalist who attended this party are among the most well-known in the nation, but they appear to have violated ethics standards recommended by the Society for professional Journalist. Attending such a party without disclosing it and for reasons other than news coverage clearly violates several provisions of the "Act Independently" section of the ethics policy.
Earlier this week, the vice president released several photographs of the event. Photographs JJChronicles requested months ago and was denied receipt. MSNBC reported the party but again made no mention that many of its journalists attended the event.
On June 13, 2011, POLITICO ran a five-paragraph story describing a party hosted for journalists and their families by the vice president and second lady at the Naval Observatory. The POLITICO story stated the vice president and second lady "weren't shy about squirting their guests." They are shy about disclosing the names of those guests.
In a classic case of junk journalism, the POLITICO did not name any of the guests and provided no caption below a picture showing two participants. It did not identify the two visible people. POLITICO's favorite junk journalist ploy, the use of anonymous sources, goes a step further, anonymous subjects.
Jonathan Martin, the POLITICO reporter who accused Republican candidate Herman Cain of misconduct using anonymous sources attended the party but was not identified in the POLITICO story about the party.
The week of the party JJChronicles.com requested a list of the attendees from the vice president's media office. The vice-president's office ignored the request. The vice-president's staff treated subsequent requests with disdain and arrogance. Not once did the vice-president's media staff direct JJChronicles to the website where the names were release in late August.
As of this date, no media person has contacted JJChronicles.com. The media office employees claim they forwarded the request to the proper person.
JJChronciles.com submitted a Freedom of Information Request soon after the party. On a September 20, 2011, the Department of Homeland Security responded confirming receipt of the request. Craig W. Ulmer, Special Agent In Charge, wrote "Due to the increasing number of FOIA requests received by this office, we may encounter some delay in processing your request." Perhaps the increase in requests is the result of silly failures by White House staff. Ulmer appears unaware the White House published the names in August on its website.
Ulmer also wrote, "If you have any questions or would like to discuss this matter, please contact this office..." JJChronicles attempted to make contact with Ulmer several times most recently on Jan. 6, 2012. In one phone call, Ulmer's staff put the call on hold for 25 minutes and then hung up. In another call, Ulmer's staff refused to identify herself stating "I do not wish to...." The staff member forwarded the call to a "supervisor" who did not return phone calls.