Continuing a “troubling” pattern, The Washington Post is allowing opinion writer Ed Rogers to defend Wall Street from attacks without disclosing his firm “offers services” to Wall Street interests. The Post also doesn't disclose that Rogers' firm “provides investment banking services” for American and foreign clients.
Rogers is a “Republican mega-lobbyist” who is the chairman and co-founder of the BGR Group with former Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) in 1991. The Post noted the firm is one of the top Washington D.C. lobbying firms, having banked more than $15 million in 2014.
Media Matters previously documented that Rogers' firm received more than $1.6 million in 2014 lobbying fees from energy and transportation clients that benefit from positions he repeatedly espoused in his Post writing. The Post and Rogers never disclosed his firm's clients.
The Post has defended the practice, telling Media Matters via email, “His full-time lobbying job is in his bio on every single piece he writes.” But such a standard requires readers to actively search federal lobbying records to ascertain if Rogers has clients that might benefit from his writing. Media ethicists have slammed the Post for this “troubling” and “dishonest” standard.
Rogers' undisclosed and conflict-laden commentary extends into other areas beyond the environment, including financial regulations.
BGR's website states that “BGR offers services to financial services companies and trade associations designed to help our clients achieve their business goals in the most challenging environments.” It lists William Blair & Company, “a global investment banking and asset management firm,” as one of several “representative clients.”
BGR also describes itself as “a global leader” in “investment banking.” The group's BGR Business Advisors page, which lists Rogers as a group leader, says it “provides investment banking services while leveraging the global base of relationships and expertise that comes with the BGR brand.” BGR lists American and foreign companies as representative clients.
While the Post mentions that Rogers is “a political consultant” and “the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group,” it makes no disclosure in Rogers' pro-Wall Street posts that BGR “offers services to financial services companies.” It also does not disclose that BGR “provides investment banking services.”
Rogers has attacked politicians for using “anti-bank buzzwords” and criticized “massive new regulation of ... financial services” in his columns since he started writing for the Post in 2011. Rogers has lobbed harsh attacks against “hypocritical” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for her criticism of Wall Street practices.
- December 16, 2014. Rogers attacked Sen. Elizabeth Warren as hypocrite because she champions Wall Street reform. He wrote: “Warren seems to be relishing her hypocritical image as an anti-Wall Street firebrand, and her fellow liberal Wall Street magnates and other assorted 1-percenters can't get enough. Using a few anti-bank buzzwords, tired old clichés and some Occupy jargon, the senator who is most at home in the comfort of the faculty lounge at Harvard now wants us to believe she is the champion of the middle class and the potential savior of the Democratic Party. It will be interesting to see how her rhetoric plays among audiences with a lower concentration of hypocrisy than you can find in Manhattan, Hollywood and Cambridge.”
- December 12, 2014. Rogers attacked Warren, writing of her opposition to the “cromnibus” spending bill: “She has taken the mantle of a populist, liberal Democrat in railing against Wall Street, but I wonder: Who will be appearing at her Manhattan fundraisers over the next year? After all, the segment of the American population that has benefited the most under Democratic rule over the past six years is the wealthiest one percent. This group includes a heavy concentration of the limousine liberals from Wall Street who bankroll much of the Democratic efforts.”
Rogers also wrote posts in 2011 and 2012 criticizing financial regulations. (BGR's website stated prior to Rogers' 2011 start date that the firm “offers services to financial services companies” and “investment banking services”)
- August 3, 2012. Rogers wrote of Obama during the 2012 campaign: “And Obama still doesn't get it. His stump speech refrain about the economy is this: 'The basic idea is, is that if you give more tax breaks to the wealthy, and you get rid of regulations on banks and polluters and health insurance companies, then somehow everybody is going to prosper.' Well, setting aside the snarky tone, Obama has tried the opposite. He wants to raise taxes even more and layer private business with additional government regulations. The result of those policies is low economic growth and the associated consequences that Americans are suffering from today."
- December 14, 2011. In response to a Gallup poll finding “Fear of Big Government at Near-Record Level,” Rogers attacked regulations of financial services: “The health-care bill, the giant government bailouts and massive new regulation of energy production and financial services are all inconsistent with how people feel about the government's threatening presence in American life. The poll suggests that in the 2012 elections, President Obama will either be off-key or silent, after having had perfect pitch in 2008. All of his so-called accomplishments have been big government solutions. His reelection themes won't be credible if he denies the obvious and suddenly suggests that he's for a smaller, less obtrusive government.”