clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Can the journalists who work for Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner still cover the White House fairly?

Yes, says one of the few people who might know: Observer Editor in Chief Ken Kurson. / Patrick McMullan

More than a year before Donald Trump declared his candidacy for president, Observer Editor in Chief Ken Kurson got a preview of what 2016 would look like.

In February of 2014, Kurson’s paper, which is published by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, put out a lengthy and critical story about New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and his lawsuit against Trump University.

The story came under intense scrutiny for attacking a formidable Trump enemy while defending the reality TV star. The freelancer originally attached to write it quit after being pressured by Kurson to paint Schneiderman negatively.

“[It was] thought to be logrolling for Trump,” Kurson said on the latest Recode Media with Peter Kafka. “In fact, the story was 100 percent accurate. Even Schneiderman’s office never asked for a correction.”

Kurson would attract a lot of similar heat throughout the 2016 campaign, as Kushner took a more and more active role in the Trump campaign while remaining atop the Observer’s editorial board.

“Whatever we said was going to be analyzed within a fraction of its life, and I made the decision, during the Schneiderman kerfuffle, just to ignore it,” he said, noting that Kushner had no daily involvement in reporters’ and editors’ decisions.

However, Kurson himself provided input on a speech in March that Trump delivered to the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC. After that, the Observer instituted a de facto “one man policy,” in his words, that its employees would not assist anyone’s campaign.

During the Republican National Convention in July, Kurson took flak for sitting with the Trump family in their VIP box. On the new podcast, he said he was there in a purely journalistic capacity.

“I’ll go into any box anyone invites me to,” he said. “To me, it’s much ado about nothing if people want to write articles about where I sit — I’m a reporter, I’m a journalist. I’ll take whatever access someone will give me. If Hillary Clinton would’ve let me sit in her family box, I would’ve been there in two seconds.”

He also noted that the Observer “ran some very tough columns about Donald Trump.”

“You might remember we have a staffer, Dana Schwartz, who ran a very powerful open letter asking Jared to answer for what she perceived as Donald Trump’s anti-Semitism,” Kurson said.

“My feeling about being in media is, you’ve just got to do your best to do a good job and ignore this stuff,” he added. “I’m not on Twitter, I never Google myself, I try really hard not to let people get in my head.”

You can listen to Recode Media in the audio player above, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge's Lauren Goode, answers all of the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • And finally, Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, such as the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Peter. Tune in next Thursday for another episode of Recode Media!

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.