John Harris, left, and Jim VandeHei of Politico. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)
John Harris, left, and Jim VandeHei of Politico. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

In this morning’s “Playbook,” Politico reporter Mike Allen promoted this bit of information:

EXCLUSIVE: Dr. Howard Dean endorses Don Beyer, candidate to succeed Rep. James Moran (D-Va.) in the 8th (Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, part of Fairfax County). Don was national treasurer and Virginia chair of the Dean presidential campaign. The field for the Moran open seat is crowded, giving Beyer an advantage because of his experience and name I.D. as former Virginia lieutenant governor, U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, and longtime star of Don Beyer Volvo commercials. www.friendsofdonbeyer.com

Close readers of “Playbook” might be familiar with Beyer. First off, he’s the Don Beyer of Don Beyer Volvo, a Washington-area car dealer. He also served as Virginia’s lieutenant governor and, under the Obama administration, as ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. And he’s running to replace retiring Virginia Rep. James Moran, as Allen noted prominently in the Feb. 14 edition of “Playbook.” Right in the headline of that day’s “Playbook,” in fact:

NEW GOP HOPE FOR SENATE: Iowa in play — SPONSORS WRITE athlete tweets — 3 EX-PRESIDENTS to join Civil Rights Summit in Austin, April 8-10 — DON BEYER runs

More was in the meat of that edition:

OBAMA ALUMNI — Don Beyer joins crowded field for Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) open seat (8th: Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, part of Fairfax County) – Release: “Former [Va.] Lieutenant Governor Don Beyer officially launched his congressional campaign … Beyer is a third-generation Northern Virginian and a local businessman. At the conclusion of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, Obama asked Beyer to lead the presidential administration’s transition team for … Commerce and to serve as Ambassador to Switzerland. … ‘Don’s breadth of experience and his knowledge of Northern Virginia, together with his compassion, position him perfectly for this job,’ said Lynda Johnson Robb, who introduced him … [The] announcement was at the home of former state senator Mary Margaret Whipple.” www.friendsofdonbeyer.com

Searches of the “Playbook” archive show that other contenders in the post-Moran scramble haven’t gotten such treatment. That Beyer might win a bit more coverage from “Playbook” than other hopefuls could make sense: After all, Beyer did win a straw poll (though it was held at a Don Beyer dealership!), and he’s got all that Democratic/Obama cred.

Yet wouldn’t it make sense for Allen to disclose in these mentions that Ann O’Hanlon, a key aide at Friends of Don Beyer, is the wife of Politico’s editor-in-chief, John Harris?

It’s not a simple call: Spouses must be free to pursue their own ambitions. And surely O’Hanlon — like Harris, a former Post reporter — scores her PR coups on the strength of her own ingenuity and resourcefulness.

Hold on, folks: Just as we finished writing that last sentence, Harris himself sent this thoughtful e-mail:

As I am sure you can appreciate, Ann is an accomplished professional with a career that is fully independent of my own.

Because of her involvement in a political campaign, I’m playing no role whatsoever in any coverage — in Playbook or elsewhere in the publication — that involves the 8th district campaign. Mike of course knows and respects that.

Quite apart from Ann’s role, both Mike and I are probably watching that race with a bit more interest than many of the other 434 House races this year. We both live in the district, and, because of our own backgrounds as Virginia reporters, have known many of the players around this campaign — not just Don Beyer — for 25 years.

So, as I say, I’m not engaged with any coverage decisions on this. In fact, because I have been in meetings much of the day I missed this morning’s Playbook and knew nothing of the item you mentioned until getting your e-mail just now.

A fair accounting. The Allen blurbs, however, have the feel of a disclosure-compelling gush.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.