NYT's Ali Watkins Tweeted About Sleeping With Sources Like In 'House Of Cards' [Updated]

"I wanted to be Zoe Barnes..."
Chris Menahan

Jun. 08, 2018

The future is female!

From Fox News:
New York Times reporter Ali Watkins' past tweets are raising eyebrows after revelations she had a three-year romantic relationship with a Senate Intelligence Committee aide now accused by federal prosecutors of leaking sensitive information to journalists, including herself.

On Thursday, the New York Times reported that federal investigators had seized years' worth of Watkins' email and phone records as part of a leak probe into James Wolfe, the former security director for the Senate Intelligence Committee indicted for giving false statements to FBI agents.

The indictment says Wolfe leaked information to reporters about the committee's work, including its subpoena last fall of an individual believed to be former Trump adviser Carter Page.
But in several tweets in September 2017, Watkins, while dating Wolfe and working for Politico, seemed to point the finger at attorneys for President Trump over various media disclosures.

An indictment says former Senate staffer James Wolfe leaked information to reporters about the Intelligence Committee's work.

In one tweet, Watkins noted how the Intelligence Committee is "SOOO frustrated in recent weeks by the constant dribble of leaks about who's testifying to them." She then said the committee believes "Trumpster lawyers will leak info about upcoming appearances, blame the committee, then use as a pretext not to cooperate."
It's unclear who was responsible for those specific leaks -- the tweets were posted about a month before a different reporter published the story on the Page subpoena. But the indictment strongly suggests Wolfe was a top source for committee stories and that Watkins was among the reporters who got information from Wolfe.

The indictment said Wolfe, 58, began dating Watkins -- who is in her 20's -- in 2013 when she was an undergraduate student working as a news intern. The indictment said the pair ended the relationship in December 2017.

In an April 2013 tweet, Watkins also tweeted about the fictional Netflix television show "House of Cards," where a young reporter has an affair with an older member of Congress.

"I wanted to be Zoe Barnes...until episode 4," she tweeted. "Sleeping with your source- especially a vindictive congressman? #badlifechoice #HouseofCards"
In another tweet, Watkins asked: "So on a scale of 1 to ethical, how does everyone feel about pulling a @RealZoeBarnes for story ideas? #TOTALLYKIDDING @HouseofCards."
The "House of Cards" tweets were posted months before prosecutors said her relationship with Wolfe began.

The revelations also have raised questions about how much her employers knew about the relationship. Watkins previously worked for BuzzFeed, Politico and McClatchy.

The New York Times said Watkins informed her editors about the previous relationship when she was hired. The newspaper also said Watkins claimed to have told both Politico and BuzzFeed about the relationship, though she continued covering the committee.
As a 22-year-old senior at Temple University, Watkins also "helped McClatchy newspapers break a story related to the Senate Intelligence Committee," The Washington Post reports. "Wolfe was the committee's security director."
Temple boasted about Watkins's role in the scoop, at the time:
Journalism major Ali Watkins spent some of her internship at McClatchy DC News hanging around elevators and locked doors but not because she was idle. Rather, she was establishing relationships with people who might serve as sources for stories. And in December 2013, her creative persistence paid off.

A breaking national story was the direct result of tips she received through unnamed sources with whom she has developed trusting relationships since she began reporting for McClatchy in May 2013.
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