Ex-WSJ Journalist Gina Chon: Amorous E-mail Scandal Is Harder Than War Reporting

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Photo: WSJ

Gina Chon, the Wall Street Journal war correspondent who resigned after sexy e-mails with her now-husband Brett McGurk leaked online, is having a rough time. McGurk, Obama's nominee to be the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq, was a diplomat in Baghdad at the time (and married to someone else), and his source-reporter relationship with Chon has threatened to derail his confirmation process. In an e-mail to friends, obtained by Buzzfeed, Chon describes seeing her life dissected online and insists that the pair didn't trade sensitive info during their courtship. "As many of you know, I’ve been shot at, survived rocket attacks, and lived through a truck bomb explosion that killed more than 150 Iraqis. In Haiti, there were a few times I thought I would be crushed under a pile of rubble," she writes. "But I've never felt so vulnerable, so targeted and so exposed as I have in the last two weeks."

Chon says the leaked messages were "flirtatious banter and nothing more":

I’m not trying to absolve myself of responsibility. People were hurt along the way and for that, I am truly sorry. I made stupid mistakes four years ago in Iraq while working for the Wall Street Journal and for that, I’m also sorry. I had to leave my job at a news organization I love and for that, I am heartbroken.

I want you to know, though, that while I worked in Iraq for the paper, Brett never gave me sensitive or classified information nor did he trade his knowledge for my affection. We were both dedicated professionals too committed to our jobs and had too much respect for each other to do anything like that.

You can read her whole letter here. "I feel like I have become collateral damage in this process," she writes. "And, after witnessing all I have, I’m amazed that anyone would want to become a public official." But by the end, she asks, "The question I continue to have is when will the conversation return to issues? Because when they do, I know Brett will become the next ambassador to Iraq."

That part's not exactly a done deal. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination next week, but the unflattering details keep coming: Today, the Washington Post reported that McGurk invited Chon to guest-lecture at a Harvard course he taught but made no mention of their romance. Whatever the ultimate outcome, she obviously just wants this all to end.