Media Moves

Case against government leaker discloses relationship with CNBC reporter

July 9, 2020

Posted by Chris Roush

The federal government’s case against an employee alleged to have leaked information to a reporter has disclosed that the source was in a relationship with, and sent information to, CNBC reporter Amanda Macias, reports Erik Wemple of The Washington Post.

Wemple reports, “During that time, according to the Justice Department, Macias published eight articles containing classified information about the weapons capabilities of certain foreign countries. A sentencing memo from Frese’s attorney, Stuart Sears, spells out the pressures that the analyst felt as he hovered at the intersection of his personal and professional lives: ‘Following a traumatic break-up with a long-term girlfriend, Mr. Frese slipped into a depressive state. It was during that period that he met and began dating Journalist 1,’ reads the document, referring to Macias.’The relationship quickly became a priority and Mr. Frese focused a lot of time and energy in to making it work,’ continues Frese’s sentencing memo. ‘At the same time, Journalist 1’s career was stalling and she would ask Mr. Frese to share information that she could use to either confirm other information she had received or to give her a lead on potential new stories. At first those requests were rebuffed, but as the requests mounted and as the relationship deteriorated over time, he eventually relented. He did so for the purpose of helping her advance her career and with the hope of improving their relationship.’

“Right there is a heap of work for the CNBC standards folks. A federal court document indicates that Macias had a romantic relationship with a source and pressured that source for information. Is CNBC okay with that? Did Macias alert her supervisors about her relationship? If so, did they approve of the setup? There are few conflicts of interest more acute than this scenario, considering that it’s impossible to report objectively about any matter in the orbit of your romantic interest.

“The Erik Wemple Blog sent questions to CNBC spokesman Brian Steel, who responded, ‘No comment.'”

Read more here.

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