I doubt this will present any conflicts in my blogging here or my work for Digital First Media, but I believe in disclosing potential conflicts. So I’ll disclose (as I’ve done a couple times before) that my oldest son, Mike, is the former chief of staff for Chuck Hagel, who was nominated today by President Barack Obama to be Secretary of Defense.
Mike’s first job out of college was in Hagel’s Senate press office, and he worked for Hagel seven years (with a year off to work on a political campaign), from 2000 to 2008, chief of staff for nearly the last year. Mike remains a good friend of Hagel’s and they talk regularly. Update: Mike was on CNN this morning, discussing Hagel’s nomination and confirmation.
I don’t know the senator well myself, though he has been friendly when we’ve met, and we have an autographed copy of his book, America, Our Next Chapter.
When I was a reporter for the Omaha World-Herald, my editors and I sought to avoid conflicts, but were not always successful. I would never write stories that were primarily about Hagel, but if a story I was working on turned out to have a Senate angle where we needed a comment from Hagel, I would give my editors a heads-up. They never called me off a story but I would call someone other than Mike to seek the quote. Of course, that arm’s-length effort became kind of silly when I would get Hagel on the phone and he’d start with some sort of humorous remark about Mike. (more…)