Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon has resigned. The skinny on this turn of events comes straight from the paper’s PR shop:
Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon agreed to resign this afternoon after acknowledging that while based in Iraq she violated the Dow Jones Code of Conduct by sharing certain unpublished news articles with Brett McGurk, then a member of the U.S. National Security Council in Iraq.
In 2008 Ms. Chon entered into a personal relationship with Mr. McGurk, which she failed to disclose to her editor. At this time the Journal has found no evidence that her coverage was tainted by her relationship with Mr. McGurk.
Ms. Chon joined the Journal in 2005 in Detroit, followed by an assignment as Iraq correspondent in Baghdad from 2007 to 2009. She also reported for the Journal from Haiti in 2010 in the aftermath of the earthquake and has served as a M&A reporter for Money & Investing in New York since April 2010.
Anybody with a fetish for e-mail scandals knows what this is all about. Last week the Web site Crytome published a bunch of romantic and weird correspondence between Chon and McGurk, from the time that both of them were stationed in Iraq.
The back-and-forth made clear that 1) Chon and McGurk were an item; and 2) they were struggling to keep their worlds separate. With an accent on the struggling part. In one exchange, McGurk passes along a suggestion to assist Chon with her reporting on Iraqi elections. In another, they joke about smuggling Chon into an event. They were later married.
Chon and McGurk share one gigantic lapse in judgment, and that’s using their official e-mail addresses to tease each other about their romance, as well as to trash the boundaries between their professions. How many careers had been felled on account of dumb e-mail usage prior to the 2008 exchanges between Chon and McGurk? Hundreds? Perhaps thousands?
Yet the preponderance of professional miscalculation in this case appears to lie with Chon. Not alerting an editor to a relationship with a ranking official in the center of her beat is a job-ending breakdown. Though a grace period must apply to the initial stages of courtship, Chon had progressed beyond that point, as the e-mails make clear. Let’s just say that if you’re discussing masturbation with a high-ranking lover/source, you have some news for your editor. The statement from the Wall Street Journal states that Chon neglected to take that step.
Chon, according to the statement, committed the indiscretion of “sharing certain unpublished news articles” with McGurk, yet the newspaper has found no sign of taint in her stories owing to their relationship. That may be, though the forensics of such an inquest are tricky. Any corruption in coverage may lie in what’s omitted, not in what’s on the page.