Sargent: CNN Admits That On-Air Commentator Worked For Insurance Industry, Promises Full Disclosure


From Sargent's "The Plum Line" blog:

CNN has acknowledged in a statement to me that a high-profile Republican commentator who frequently discusses health care on the air is also the media buyer for one of the ad campaigns bankrolled by America's Health Insurance Plans, the major industry trade group currently waging war against the White House and Dem reform proposals.

CNN tells me his ties to the industry will be disclosed in the future.

The CNN contributor, well-known GOP consultant Alex Castellanos, is best known for producing the racially-charged "Hands" ad, has repeatedly appeared on the network attacking Dem health care plans and the public option, which is strongly opposed by AHIP.

Castellanos's consulting firm, National Media, also recently placed over $1 million of TV advertising for AHIP, according to info obtained by Media Matters. AHIP's most recent $1 million ad buy attacks the health care plan as a threat to Medicare.

This connection, you'd think, should be disclosed whenever Castellanos appears on CNN discussing health care. Asked for comment, CNN spokesperson Edie Emery acknowledged the tie and promised full disclosure in the future. She emailed:

"When Alex Castellano returns from his vacation and next appears on CNN, we will clearly disclose to our viewers relevant information including his firm's relationship with AHIP."

CNN doesn't appear to have known about Castellano's work, and this is not the first time outside help retained by AHIP in the health care wars has created a PR mess. AHIP took heavy criticism after the firm it retained to release a study faulting the reform proposals publicly undercut its own findings.

Previously: CNN's Castellanos' firm is ad buyer for AHIP's anti-health care ad blitz

Network/Outlet, The Plum Line
Greg Sargent
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