The New York Times fired Critical Shopper columnist Mike Albo for taking a free junket to Jamaica, in violation of ethics policies. Which might make sense, if the Times itself hadn't specifically cleared him of violating ethics policies.

The newspaper last week said "we do not see any violation of our rules" in Albo taking a free vacation sponsored by the consumer publication Thrillist and the airline JetBlue. But since providing that statement to Daily Finance's Jeff Bercovici, the Times had second thoughts, launched an investigation and has now axed Albo's twice-monthly "Critical Shopper" fashion column, according to Daily Intel.

Albo is a travel contributor, specifically barred under freelancer guidelines from accepting travel junkets, and even posted a tweet indicating he "felt gross" about the trip. So our old friend The Underminer should have anticipated some blowback. After all, it's a junket, plain and simple — a fundamentally scuzzy thing. But given that even Albo's superiors couldn't make sense of the rules, a simple ban on further travel writing would have been less embarrassing for everyone involved, without giving up much of anything in terms of conflicts of interest.

(Pic: Albo, by Irina Slutsky)