The Wall Street Journal announced today that reporter Gina Chon, who was revealed by recently leaked emails to have slept with a National Security Council Iraq expert while covering that country, has resigned.
That expert, Brett McGurk, is now Barack Obama's nominee to serve as ambassador to Iraq. According to email exchanges between McGurk and Chon leaked anonymously to Flickr earlier this month, the pair began a romantic relationship in 2008, while Chon was the paper's Iraq correspondent and McGurk was a special assistant to George W. Bush and an adviser to the NSC on Iraq. The emails make clear that Chon was relying on McGurk for information, guidance, and access while she was sleeping with him. McGurk, who married a woman named Caroline Wong in 2006, was reportedly still married at the time the affair began.
According to a statement released by the Journal, Chon resigned after acknowledging that she had violated the Dow Jones code of conduct by sharing unpublished stories with McGurk. That's right—a member of George W. Bush's National Security Council had secret access to the Wall Street Journal's unpublished stories. The statement doesn't say how often Chon fed stories to McGurk or which ones were made available to him.
At the same time, the Journal insists that Chon and McGurk's romance—which she did not disclose to her editors—had no effect on her reporting: "At this time the Journal has found no evidence that her coverage was tainted by her relationship with Mr. McGurk."
Last week, the paper said that Chon was preparing to take a previously planned leave of absence in light of the nomination of McGurk—whom she subsequently married—to the post in Iraq. It will be longer than planned. Here's the full statement:
Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon agreed to resign this afternoon after acknowledging that while based in Iraq she violated the Dow Jones Code of Conduct by sharing certain unpublished news articles with Brett McGurk, then a member of the U.S. National Security Council in Iraq.
In 2008 Ms. Chon entered into a personal relationship with Mr. McGurk, which she failed to disclose to her editor. At this time the Journal has found no evidence that her coverage was tainted by her relationship with Mr. McGurk.
Ms. Chon joined the Journal in 2005 in Detroit, followed by an assignment as Iraq correspondent in Baghdad from 2007 to 2009. She also reported for the Journal from Haiti in 2010 in the aftermath of the earthquake and has served as a M&A reporter for Money & Investing in New York since April 2010.