- The Washington Times - Friday, November 16, 2001

Talk magazine gave $1,000 this year to Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend for her anticipated gubernatorial bid in 2002, but the contribution was mistakenly attributed to fellow Hearst Corporation holding WBAL.

Townsend campaign Treasurer Jeffrey Liss said yesterday the incorrectly attributed donation, which was included in a campaign-finance report filed last week, was a mistake made by campaign accountants.

Printing on the $1,000 check, issued through a Hearst accounting division in Charlotte, N.C., clearly identified its source as Talk magazine, Mr. Liss said.

He said he still was not sure how the check came to be attributed to WBAL, but that the error would be corrected in documents filed with the state Board of Elections.

WBAL President and General Manager Bill Fine told The Washington Times this week that WBAL did not and would not give any money to Mrs. Townsend or "to any politician running for elective office."

Talk magazine publicist Lisa Dallos refused to discuss how the $1,000 check came to be written, except to say it was a mistake that would be corrected and that political contributions violated company policy.

"We will remedy the situation," Ms. Dallos said Wednesday.

Ms. Dallos declined to discuss who initiated the political contribution or whether Talk, based in New York and published jointly by Miramax Films and Hearst, would ask for a refund from the Townsend campaign.

Mr. Liss said yesterday that he had not received a refund request from Talk.

He said he did not know whether any Talk employees attended Mrs. Townsend's fund-raising events, but that he did not recall their doing so.

Contributing to political campaigns while covering politics is frowned upon among journalists and can call a media organization's objectivity into question.

There's no doubt Talk covers politics and politicians. In 1999, Talk's first issue featured an interview with then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton then beginning her run for the Senate in New York in which the first lady suggested that childhood traumas probably fueled her husband's philandering.

In September, Talk ran a photo spread that used look-alike models to portray President Bush's twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, as jailbirds being sprung after an underage-drinking escapade.

Three of six "top stories" that Talk magazine's Web site touts for its November issue are about politicians. New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican, is featured in the cover story. Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, and Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, are the focus of two articles.

Mrs. Townsend is the eldest daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, who served as U.S. attorney general and as senator from New York, and is a niece of President John F. Kennedy.

Although she has not won elected office on her own, Mrs. Townsend is regarded by some pundits as the Kennedy heir most likely to carry on the family political legacy.

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