Ethics Expert: Robyne Robinson should have retired early


Monday morning, two days before Robyne Robinson's last day at Fox 9 News, word leaked to the press that the veteran anchor was considering a job as gubernatorial candidate Matt Entenza's running mate.

Robinson confirmed the rumors by Monday afternoon. Entenza offered her the job, she told reporters, but she had yet to make a decision.

Only a few hours later, Robinson appeared as an anchor on the 5 p.m. news as usual. She made no mention of her potential bid for high office. Fox even ran a story about other gubernatorial running mate picks, who could be Robinson's direct competition come Wednesday when the decision will be announced.

This all raised an obvious question: Was her appearance on the nightly news a conflict of interest?

The answer is yes, according to Kelly McBride, journalism ethics expert at the Poynter Institute. And the solution is simple: "While she's making the decision, take her off the air, especially since she's publicly known," says McBride.

Robinson did not narrate the story about other lieutenant governor picks, but the appearance of a conflict of interest is still there, says McBride. "In the audience's mind she's connected to the report."

In an interview after yesterday's report, a KMSP spokeswoman told City Pages:

"There is a clear difference between being invited to be a candidate and announcing you are a candidate."

McBride agrees, but says Robinson--and Fox 9--should have strongly considered hastening the reporter's retirement.

"Once it's out that she's considering it, I think she owes it to her audience to make up her mind quickly," says McBride.

Robinson also appeared on the 9 p.m. broadcast, where the station at least acknowledged she was considering Entenza's offer.

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