In a memo, Ricketts tells his news staff his politics have ‘absolutely no impact’ on their work

The 'Ricketts' playbook obtained by the 'Times.' ()
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Late this afternoon, Joe Ricketts, the founder of AmeriTrade who was the subject of a front-page article in today's New York Times, sent a memo to the staff of another company he founded, local-news startup DNAInfo.

That latter fact wasn't mentioned in the Times article, which characterized Ricketts as being at the center of a strategy to reintroduce the Rev. Jeremiah Wright storyline to this election in an effort to paint president Obama as a radical liberal, through his "Ending Spending" super PAC.

Ricketts has since distanced himself from the strategy paper obtained by the Times. But his involvement in conservative politics (and raising money and developing strategy for the cause) is well documented.

Which raised the question for us earlier today: What would happen if, say, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., or Rupert Murdoch, were placed at the center of a political operation like this?

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Ricketts tells his staff in the memo, obtained by Capital, that "although I feel a strong obligation as a citizen to engage politically in support of the principles I hold dear, I feel equally strongly that my personal politics should have absolutely no impact on your work as objective, fair-minded journalists."

Here's the whole thing:

As news people, I’m sure you’re all aware of the story in today’s New York Times about a so-called “Ricketts Plan” to attack President Obama in this year’s Presidential race. In fact, there is no such plan, as the following statement released earlier today by the Ending Spending Action Fund makes clear:

“Joe Ricketts is a registered independent, a fiscal conservative, and an outspoken critic of the Obama Administration, but he is neither the author nor the funder of the so-called ‘Ricketts Plan’ to defeat Mr. Obama that The New York Times wrote about this morning. Not only was this plan merely a proposal – one of several submitted to the Ending Spending Action Fund by third-party vendors – but it reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take. Mr. Ricketts intends to work hard to help elect a President this fall who shares his commitment to economic responsibility, but his efforts are and will continue to be focused entirely on questions of fiscal policy, not attacks that seek to divide us socially or culturally.”

I hope you are also aware that although I feel a strong obligation as a citizen to engage politically in support of the principles I hold dear, I feel equally strongly that my personal politics should have absolutely no impact on your work as objective, fair-minded journalists. I am enormously proud of what everyone at DNA info has accomplished and I trust that you will continue to cover the news fairly and fearlessly in accordance with the highest standards of your profession.

Best,

Joe Ricketts