Will Kurtz, others cover bombshell Nation story on "The Lobbying-Media Complex"?
Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH
At Media Matters' we've repeatedly pointed out the media's inability to consistently identify the conflicts of interest or note-worthy connections of contributors and guests on various cable news outlets as well as those quoted in major newspapers as experts. Years' worth of examples of past Media Matters research on the subject can be found at the end of this post.
The Nation's Sebastian Jones has an incredible piece out this week detailing the results of a four month investigation which found that, "[s]ince 2007 at least seventy-five registered lobbyists, public relations representatives and corporate officials -- people paid by companies and trade groups to manage their public image and promote their financial and political interests -- have appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, CNBC and Fox Business Network with no disclosure of the corporate interests that had paid them."
From Jones' report:
President Obama spent most of December 4 touring Allentown, Pennsylvania, meeting with local workers and discussing the economic crisis. A few hours later, the state's former governor, Tom Ridge, was on MSNBC's Hardball With Chris Matthews, offering up his own recovery plan. There were "modest things" the White House might try, like cutting taxes or opening up credit for small businesses, but the real answer was for the president to "take his green agenda and blow it out of the box." The first step, Ridge explained, was to "create nuclear power plants." Combined with some waste coal and natural gas extraction, you would have an "innovation setter" that would "create jobs, create exports."
As Ridge counseled the administration to "put that package together," he sure seemed like an objective commentator. But what viewers weren't told was that since 2005, Ridge has pocketed $530,659 in executive compensation for serving on the board of Exelon, the nation's largest nuclear power company. As of March 2009, he also held an estimated $248,299 in Exelon stock, according to SEC filings.
Moments earlier, retired general and "NBC Military Analyst" Barry McCaffrey told viewers that the war in Afghanistan would require an additional "three- to ten-year effort" and "a lot of money." Unmentioned was the fact that DynCorp paid McCaffrey $182,309 in 2009 alone. The government had just granted DynCorp a five-year deal worth an estimated $5.9 billion to aid American forces in Afghanistan. The first year is locked in at $644 million, but the additional four options are subject to renewal, contingent on military needs and political realities.
In a single hour, two men with blatant, undisclosed conflicts of interest had appeared on MSNBC. The question is, was this an isolated oversight or business as usual? Evidence points to the latter. In 2003 The Nation exposed McCaffrey's financial ties to military contractors he had promoted on-air on several cable networks; in 2008 David Barstow wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning series for the New York Times about the Pentagon's use of former military officers--many lobbying or consulting for military contractors--to get their talking points on television in exchange for access to decision-makers; and in 2009 bloggers uncovered how ex-Newsweek writer Richard Wolffe had guest-hosted Countdown With Keith Olbermann while working at a large PR firm specializing in "strategies for managing corporate reputation."
Based on Jones' report, it looks like the problem is far more pervasive than previously known. It makes one wonder if Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, who has often failed to disclose his own conflicts of interest, will discuss the story on his weekend broadcast of Reliable Sources on CNN.
Be sure to check out Jones' expose in its entirety. It's well worth a read.
- Politico quotes Lott calling Obama "foolish" for trying to pass cap and trade without noting Lott lobbied against it
- Fox allows Tantaros to attack health care without disclosing ties
- Quick Fact: Wash. Examiner omits Galen Institute's reported health care industry funding
- Wash. Times columnist Birnbaum wastes no time writing about industries he represents without disclosing ties
- Quick Fact: Fox News again allows Donatelli to attack health care bill without disclosing his conflict of interest
- Special Report fails to disclose health care opponent Donatelli's consulting tie
- WSJ op-ed falsely claims Rasmussen "never worked for any political party" or candidate
- Wash. Post turns news pages over to conservative billionaire Peterson's news service
- Fox doesn't disclose health care opponent Donatelli's consulting conflict of interest
- Another disclosure problem: Fox lets former senior adviser Pinkerton defend Huckabee commutation without noting ties
- Another Afghanistan conflict for McCaffrey to disclose
- MSNBC repeatedly hosts McCaffrey to discuss Afghanistan without disclosing his conflict of interest
- NBC lets McCaffrey attack "harmful" Afghanistan timeline without disclosing his DynCorp ties
- The Washington Post Company does not understand disclosure
- Van Susteren hypes Palin memoir, but fails to disclose her husband advised Palin after 2008 campaign
- Fox News lets Breaux discuss health care reform without revealing he is a health care lobbyist
- TPM: Newsweek, Oil Lobby Team Up To Host Climate Change Event For Lawmakers
- An unconvincing defense of Howard Kurtz
- Howard Kurtz's bogus conflict-of-interest defense
- Huckabee used Fox News show to collect email addresses for his PAC, recruit volunteers for GOP-backed candidates
- Post ombudsman: Kurtz's CNN work is an "inescapable conflict that is at odds with" paper's rules
- CNN's longstanding pro-Castellanos disclosure double standard
- Sargent: CNN's Castellanos' firm also is doing anti-health reform bill ads for U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- Sargent: CNN Admits That On-Air Commentator Worked For Insurance Industry, Promises Full Disclosure
- CNN's Castellanos' firm is ad buyer for AHIP's anti-health care ad blitz
- Huckabee sends viewers to his PAC under the guise of signing a petition
- Surprise (for MTP viewers)! Gingrich supports subsidies to his organization's member companies
- Politico again allows Gingrich to promote policies favorable to his group's funders
- Howard Kurtz could learn a thing or two from Andrew Alexander
- Howard Kurtz's intermittent disclosure
- Media let Gingrich take money from insurers, slam policies they oppose
- UPDATED: Just weeks after promising WaPo Ombudsman he'd disclose CNN ties, Kurtz repeatedly failed to do so
- On Fox, McInerney defends F-22 without disclosing aircraft subcontractor ties
- FBN fails to disclose climate-change skeptic's position in industry-funded organization
- Wash. Times fails to disclose op-ed author's ties to defense industry
- WSJ doesn't disclose Galen Institute's reported industry ties in president's health care op-ed
- Wash. Times didn't disclose subcontractor ties of McInerney, purported spokesman for "the Air Force fighter community"
- Fox's Angle did not disclose that "analyst" Holmstead is an energy lobbyist
- Politico lets Gingrich attack public health insurance plan without disclosing financial ties to insurance companies
- Fox & Friends' Carlson failed to disclose tea party organizer's GOP ties
- Return to (poor) form: MSNBC again drops the ball on disclosing McCaffrey's DynCorp ties
- Scarborough shills GE stock on GE-owned MSNBC
- Cavuto did not ID Lott as energy company lobbyist, even as Lott touted specific issues for which he lobbies
- Fox's Wilson aired economist's attacks on EFCA without noting her study's industry funding
- Fox News allowed Diaz to criticize EFCA without noting his affiliation with group opposing it
- McCaffrey again discusses Afghan security forces without disclosing ties to company training them
- NY Times ignored Holmstead's extensive energy lobbying
- Dick Morris now says he "work[ed] with" National Republican Trust PAC during election
- Barnicle complained about caps on salaries for bank execs without noting his wife is one
- Wash. Post quoted strategist criticizing Employee Free Choice Act -- but didn't ID him as spokesperson for group opposing the bill
- True to form, NBC aired clip of McCaffrey discussing "Afghan security forces" without disclosing ties to company training them
- NBC's military analysts
- Responding to Media Matters, Morris acknowledged "pushing very, very hard" for GOP group that pays him to run ads
- In TV appearances and columns, Dick Morris repeatedly promotes group without disclosing apparent financial relationship
- Ambinder reported Judy Black's PowerPoint linking Dems and Fannie and Freddie, but not her husband's link
- "[L]ive from an oil rig": NBC, MSNBC aired multiple reports on offshore drilling without explaining "environmental concerns" or disclosing GE's drilling connection
- MSNBC again hosted Lott in discussion of McCain's energy policy without disclosing that Lott is a lobbyist for gas and oil companies
- MSNBC hosted "McCain supporter" Frank Donatelli to discuss offshore oil drilling, did not mention his former post as energy lobbyist
- MSNBC hosted Breaux and Lott to defend oil and gas companies -- but failed to note they're lobbyists for them
- Military analysts named in Times exposé appeared or were quoted more than 4,500 times on broadcast nets, cables, NPR
- Multiple choice: Of the following, which outlet covered two recent major national security stories -- NBC, CBS, NPR, PBS, or ... Comedy Central?
- Flashback: Media Matters had documented conservative misinformation from military analysts with hidden ties to Pentagon
- When will Fox News ask Rove about his reported role in "informally advising" McCain?
- O'Reilly aired clip of Bennett defending McCain without disclosing he's McCain's attorney
- CNN contributor Bennett's donation to McCain not disclosed during discussion of senator
- In Wash. Post, Kurtz failed to note "neutral" Bennett's campaign contributions to McCain, Romney
- Another Giuliani interview, another failure to disclose Hannity's reported appearance at Giuliani fundraiser
- During Giuliani interview, Hannity again failed to disclose reported appearance at Giuliani fundraiser
- On Hannity & Colmes, Morris touted Clinton film without bringing up his reported ties to it
- NY Times ID'd former Republican aides attacking Senate rules in op-ed only as "lawyers and former Congressional aides"
- During Dem debate coverage, will CNN's Campbell Brown disclose her husband's role in Romney's campaign?
- Hannity interviewed Giuliani but didn't disclose reported appearance at a Giuliani fundraiser
- Iraq war supporter Clifford May fails in media appearances to disclose State Dept. grants to organization he heads
- UPDATED: Three journalists listed as AHIP speakers, then disappear from website following Kos diary
- Politico reported Republican's attack on Obama, Edwards without noting his ties to GOP
- Beck's global warming special dominated by industry-funded "experts," serial misinformers
- Wash. Post noted Biskupic's overturned prosecution, but not judge's denunciation of the case
- Think Progress: Matthews received more than $35,000 in speaking fees from Republican-leaning trade associations in apparent violation of NBC policy
- NY Times cited lobbyist Berman without mentioning industry ties
- ABC report on NSA spying lawsuits left out "legal scholar's" link to Bush White House, "significant role" in crafting post-9-11 anti-terrorism policies
- During appearance on Hardball, Scarborough failed to disclose previous contributions from Abramoff and his firms
- USA Today op-ed contained falsehood, failed to disclose author's role in drafting "torture memo"
- USA Today again relied only on Toensing to suggest that outing Plame was not a crime
- Newsweek's Fineman linked Shaw Group to Blanco cronyism in Katrina relief; ignored ties to Bush administration
- WSJ columnist Miranda failed to mention his role in Memogate -- again
- All things considered? NPR host failed to mention that TNR's "liberal" Rosen endorsed Roberts for chief justice
- Without noting his own role in the scandal, WSJ's Miranda chided Hatch for Memogate "surrender"
- News outlets labeled PFAW as "liberal" but failed to identify U.S. Chamber of Commerce as conservative
- C. Boyden Gray demoted from Fox News "Supreme Court analyst" to "contributor" following Media Matters letter
- Media hosted Watergate convicts without revealing their roles in the scandal
- Fox News whitewashes another Republican front group
- NPR, media quoted "think tank" without noting industry, GOP ties
- USA Next is a Republican front group, but you wouldn't know it from watching the news
- FOX's media critic labeled Republican activist Gannon a "journalist"
- Pro-privatization Social Security experts on TV are paid for by the right
- Payola columnist Armstrong Williams repeated Social Security misinformation in self-syndicated column
- FOX's Hannity finally disclosed ties to Rev. Peterson
- Wash. Post conflicted on Krauthammer conflict
- HRC: Investigate 'pay-to-sway' columnist for possible legal violations
- Kurtz: Hannity acknowledged he "probably should have" disclosed ties to Dem-bashing guest
- Kristol, Krauthammer lauded Bush inauguration speech without disclosing their role as consultants
- Victoria Toensing failed to disclose friendship with "No Disclosure" Novak in Wash. Post op-ed
- Will Sinclair sever ties with Armstrong Williams over scandal?
- Armstrong Williams's conflicting statements on disclosure
- GOP's Luntz again just a "pollster" on MSNBC
- Salon.com, Roll Call: Republican pollster canned at MSNBC
- Letter to MSNBC urging disclosure of pollster Luntz's GOP ties, questionable standards