In an age of partisan media, the lines between “partisan” and “media” can sometimes blur.
Case in point: The pool reporter covering Vice President Pence on Thursday — that is, the reporter who supplied details about Pence’s daily activities as proxy for the rest of the press corps — was an employee of the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank.
In other words, the news that reporters received about the vice president came from a journalist employed by an organization with a vested interest in the direction of White House and federal policy.
The development is unusual; the reporter, Fred Lucas, is the first member of his organization to take on pool reporting duties, which are typically handled on a rotating basis by mainstream news organizations. Lucas also covered Pence as the pooler two weeks ago.
Lucas writes for the Daily Signal, a news and commentary site started nearly three years ago by Heritage, one of Washington’s leading policy shops. The Signal covers issues that are a focus of Heritage’s conservative agenda, such as an Obamacare repeal, tax policy and illegal immigration.
The Signal’s editor, Rob Bluey, vigorously defended his organization’s presence in the pool, saying there’s “a hard firewall” between Heritage’s policy and lobbying operations and the Daily Signal’s newsroom.
Heritage’s leadership, including its president, former senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), has “never ordered us to cover any story” in the Daily Signal’s existence, Bluey said. “I wouldn’t work here, and the talented journalists we’ve attracted to work here wouldn’t be here, if we were receiving direct orders from Jim DeMint and the Heritage Foundation.”
The article goes on to note that the Daily Signal's inclusion in the pool "could set a precedent for other advocacy organizations, such as the Center for American Progress (CAP), that have expanded into newsgathering."
Here is Think Tank Watch's piece on the 2014 launch of the Daily Signal. Here is a Washington Post piece on the Daily Signal.