Should Mayhill Fowler have identified herself as a journalist before reporting Barack Obama's "cling" to guns and religion comment and Bill Clinton's "scumbag" rant?
No, according to Marc Cooper, Fowler's editor at Huffington Post. He commends her ethics to a skeptical Joel Bellman, ethics chair for the LA chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
My two cents: Journalists identify themselves when asking tough question not out of some duty to be polite or show deference, but to ensure that when someone gets got, the story is airtight and above board. It's a rule designed to protect the integrity of the story, not the feelings of the story's subject. You don't want someone saying they were tricked or fooled or quoted out of context when they give up a doozy. You don't want your reporters and editors getting bogged down in explanations and defenses; you want the story to stand on its own.
That's why I see Fowler as a good source, rather than as a journalist. To properly report on what Obama and Clinton said, the reporter must include background and context on how the quotes were obtained and by whom. In other words, Fowler, her politics and her methods, become a part of the story. A reporter who had identified herself first and then recorded Obama's speech or asked Clinton about the Vanity Fair piece could then remove herself from the action and let the words speak for themselves.