Behind the investigation into former HHS secretary’s travels

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

A few months ago, two of our Politico health reporters Dan Diamond and Rachana Pradhan, told me they had heard that Tom Price, then the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, had been traveling on chartered aircraft.

But they had to prove it. And they had to prove it meticulously, in a way that HHS could not dispute.

As you all know by now, Diamond and Pradhan wrote a series of reports that meticulously documented Price’s extensive travel on commercial charters and government planes. He resigned in late September.

We just posted for AHCJ a “How I Did It”  piece with a link to their longer essay in Politico Magazine – which includes a fun description of their stake-out at Dulles International Airport on Price’s now notorious flight from Washington to Philadelphia. (I’m their editor; Peter Canellos, an editor-at-large who does a lot of our investigative work, took a lead role on this story.)

Eric Wemple, who blogs about media at the Washington Post, wrote admiringly that the Pradhan and Diamond were both beat reporters who really know “the nitty-gritty” of health care. He quoted Pradhan as saying, “This is the agency we cover, these are the people we report about whether in this context or not … It wasn’t a White House story, it wasn’t a Congress story.”

Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico’s editor, noted via email to Wemple, “Our newsroom thrives because it has deeply sourced, talented journalists not only at the White House and Congress, but covering the policy apparatus and the inner workings of government throughout the agencies — in this case HHS.”

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