n. A journalist who uses their connections and knowledge to earn a significant amount of money outside of their regular job.
Other Forms
For pundits, such as Mr. Kristol, journalism is a soft life, indeed. Mr. Kristol, who received $100,000 for serving on an Enron advisory board, isn't alone. Howard Kurtz, The Washington Post media critic, reported that Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan got $25,000 to $50,000 from Enron for speech writing. Lawrence Kudlow, of the National Review, got $50,000. Paul Krugman got $50,000, but disclosed the payment when he became a columnist for The New York Times. … Mr. Kristol, like other buckrakers, claims he can't be bought. That's about as persuasive as the politician's claim that $50,000 in soft money doesn't influence him. Tom Rosenstiel of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, thinks it's easy to understand why Enron gave to pundits. "They were buying influence from the pundits, just like they were buying influence from politicians." he told the Palm Beach Post.
—“Tale of Two Journalists,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 08, 2002
1986 (earliest)
Any history of Washington journalism would surely mark June 1972 as the beginning of a new chapter. That was when Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein started investigating a peculiar burglary at Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate. Thus began the era of the Washington muckraker. Woodward and Bernstein became famous, journalism became glamorous, and "investigative units" proliferated at newspapers and television stations across the country.

The same history might mark February 1985 as the start of the next era. That was when Patrick J. Buchanan went to work at the White House and his financial disclosure statement revealed, to widespread astonishment and envy, that he had made $ 400,000 as a journalist in 1984. This included $ 60,000 for his syndicated column, $ 25,000 for his weekly appearance on "The McLaughlin Group," $ 94,000 for Cable News Network's "Crossfire," $ 81,000 for a radio show, and more than $ 135,000 for 37 speeches. Welcome to the era of the buckraker.
—Jacob Weisberg, “The buckrakers: Washington journalism enters a new era,” The New Republic, January 27, 1986
When searching for the earliest use of this blend of buck (slang for a dollar; 1856) and muckraker ("someone who exposes wrongdoing by prominent people"; 1906), I found a number of citations from early January, 1986. However, they were all commenting on a piece by Jacob Weisberg that was to appear in the January 27 issue of The New Republic, so I'm crediting that article with the first use.
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