NBC Reporter's DUI Prompts Source-Reporter Ethics Questions

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(Credit: Media Bistro, screenshot)

The Washington Times’ Gayle Falkenthal questioned in December the “distance reporters need to maintain from their sources” after the police charged NBC News reporter Jay Gray with driving under the influence.  According to a January story by Gawker-owned blog Deadspin, which included a police affidavit, Gray told police that he had “just met with attorney Joe AMENDOLA about the Jerry SANDUSKY case.”  Deadspin reported Jan. 6 that Gray has been charged with a DUI.

This is TMZ’s report of the arrest. Deadspin published the “official affidavit” here, in which the arresting officer is quoted as confirming that Gray had a .182% blood alcohol level and that Gray said he had “two beers” and “an anti-depressant prescription drug.”

According to the Washington Times, Sandusky’s attorney invited “several reporters” to his house Dec. 11 for a football party.  Those reporters were trying to “lobby” the attorney for an interview with Sandusky, the Washington Times reported.

Washington Times differentiated between normal source-reporter socialization and “lobbying” for access through socializing.

“With all the pressure on news media to be first with big stories, it is understandable that Gray made the call that socializing with Amendola, unsavory as it was, might be his ticket to a ‘big get’ and an interview with Jerry Sandusky. But it also shocks the conscience to think about reporters sitting around tossing back drinks with Sandusky’s defense attorney at his house in a party atmosphere. If any situation should be treated soberly, it’s the Penn State sex abuse scandal.”

The New York Post’s Page Six reported Dec. 23 two different anonymously-sourced bits of information concerning Gray’s future on the Sandusky story: that Gray “was kicked off the story” and that NBC “hasn’t made a decision” on Gray’s reporting.

We have written to NBC News for comment and will update with any response.


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NBC Reporter’s DUI Prompts Source-Reporter Ethics Questions

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