The Romenesko piece here is called “Why Sally Jenkins hasn’t written about Lance Armstrong lately.” It should be called “Why Sally Jenkins shouldn’t have written about Lance Armstrong in August.”
The Seattle Weekly column raising the question on Jenkins does a terrific job framing ethical dilemmas for everyone from beat writers to memoir co-authors. (Washingtonian ran something similar but a little less detailed.)
Jenkins and Armstrong have grown close after writing a couple of books together. That’s fine. And if she occasionally has some insight into what makes him tick, fine. But I know plenty of journalists who recuse themselves from controversial matters involving the athletes with whom they worked.
Jenkins didn’t do so. Her August column was a full-blown, fully biased defense of Armstrong that looks terrible in hindsight. You can’t blame Jenkins for wanting to write it. You can blame the Post’s sports staff for running it. Now there’s a giant elephant in the room whenever Jenkins is writing or speaking. And that’s too bad, because she’s a terrific (if hardly prolific) writer.
(That’s roughly the conclusion of the Seattle piece as well. Frankly, I wish Jenkins would write more of her sharp opinion pieces and put away the memoir-writing, but that’s more than a little selfish of me as a reader.)