Yesterday, the City of Pittsburgh, under the Ed Gainey administration, announced the appointment of a new press secretary. However, the press release extolled glaring conflicts of interest as virtues rather than defects. This move contradicts a promise Gainey had made to introduce fresh faces in the press office and eliminate the type of conflicts that led to the resignation of Tim McNulty, the former press secretary for Bill Peduto.
The newly named Press Secretary for the City of Pittsburgh is Olga George, an industry insider who has been with KDKA since 1994, according to her LinkedIn profile. Notably, she also serves as the Vice President of both the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation and the Western Pennsylvania Press Club. Does this not hint at a possible conflict of interest?
This year’s Golden Quill awards dinner for The Press Club could get awkward.
For those who missed the controversy during the pandemic, here’s a brief recap:
Former Press Secretary Tim McNulty, who served under Bill Peduto, resigned amid an ethics controversy just days before media outlets intended to seek injunctive relief. McNulty shadow banned news outlets, gave the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette unparalleled access, and was part of an ‘Old Boys’ network alongside disgraced reporter Michael Fuoco.
Why is this relevant to George’s appointment? McNulty spent 18 years as a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and his pension is tied up there, causing a bias. George’s pension is at KDKA, leading to an analogous conflict of interest.
Then there’s the matter of the Press Club. Fuoco and McNulty have been pressured reporters and outlets with the threat of exclusion from news associations. This dynamic could potentially repeat itself if one is reporting critically on George serving as Vice President.
Regrettably, I’ve asked about George’s intent to resign her positions at The Press Club and Media Federation.
Despite our efforts, both the City of Pittsburgh and The Press Club of Western Pennsylvania did not respond to our requests for comment for this article. You stay classy Pittsburgh.