In an earlier post I noted substantial inaccuracies and omissions in a post by Washington Post pundit Anne Applebaum in support of Roman Polanski. (For example, she said Polanski fled during his trial; in fact, he pled guilty and fled before his sentencing.) But I think this is worth its own post: Applebaum failed to mention that her husband is a Polish foreign minister who is lobbying for Polanski’s case to be dismissed:
In Polanski’s native Poland, President Lech Kaczynski and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said they would appeal to US authorities to drop proceedings against Polanski.
The PAP news agency said Sikorski was consideri[ng] a direct appeal to US President Barack Obama to end ‘once and for all’ the proceedings against the filmmaker.
Radoslaw Sikorski is married to Anne Applebaum:
Anne Applebaum is a columnist for the Washington Post and Slate. . . . Her husband, Radoslaw Sikorski, is a Polish politician and writer.
Applebaum failed to mention this little fact.
So at the same time that she was giving readers a fact-challenged screed in support of Polanski, she was failing to disclose that her husband was a Polish official who was lobbying for Polanski’s freedom.
I work for the L.A. County District Attorney’s office, which is seeking Polanski’s extradition; that is no secret to anyone who reads this blog (nor is it a secret that I do not speak on behalf of my office on this blog). By contrast, it is not well known to Applebaum’s readers that her husband is a Polish official actively involved in the effort on Polanski’s behalf.
This is reminiscent of the episode where Linda Greenhouse repeatedly reported on the facts of a case in which her husband was involved. The New York Times‘s ombudsman opined that Greenhouse should have disclosed that connection.
This is no different. Applebaum should have disclosed this connection.
UPDATE: For what it’s worth, Applebaum does know how to disclose her marriage to her husband, as she did it in a column published five days ago:
Last week, the Czech prime minister was roused from his bed after midnight to be informed by the White House of a non-urgent decision many months in the making: the cancellation of the missile defense program. The Polish prime minister refused to take a similar call (and the foreign minister, to whom — full disclosure — I am married, was asleep).
Thanks to a reader, who agrees with me that the disclosure should have been made here as well. The point is not just the identity of her husband — but, additionally and more importantly, the fact that he is advocating on behalf of Polanski in an official, governmental capacity.