Want News on Big Money in Politics? Don't Look to Major Media Networks

The letter from 18 campaign finance reform groups is addressed to Fox News CEO Roger Ailes; CBS News president David Rhodes; NBC News president Deborah Turness; ABC News president James Goldston; and PBS president Paula Kerger. (Image: File)

Want News on Big Money in Politics? Don't Look to Major Media Networks

'Now more than ever before Americans deserve to know about the need for campaign finance reform,' advocacy groups declare

As the U.S. heads into the 2016 election cycle, where spending by candidates and outside groups is poised to approach $10 billion, groups dedicated to campaign finance reform are calling on broadcast media outlets to devote more coverage to America's broken election system.

"The stakes could not be higher," 18 campaign reform groups said in a letter sent Thursday to the heads of Fox News, CBS News, NBC News, ABC News, and PBS. "Now more than ever before Americans deserve to know about the need for campaign finance reform. We urge you, as the heads of the major broadcast news networks, to take greater action in the future to ensure that Sunday political talk shows and nightly news devote appropriate attention to campaign finance reform."

The organizations, which include Common Cause, Greenpeace, People For The American Way, and U.S. PIRG, say that a series of Supreme Court decisions relaxing campaign finance reform laws--especially Citizens United--have endangered both civic engagement and democracy.

However, the letter reads, "major outlets have largely failed to educate viewers about this crisis."


We Interrupt This Article with an Urgent Message!

Common Dreams is a not-for-profit organization. We fund our news team by pooling together many small contributions from our readers. No advertising. No selling our readers' information. No reliance on big donations from the 1%. This allows us to maintain the editorial independence that our readers rely on. But this media model only works if enough readers pitch in.
We urgently need your help today.
If you support Common Dreams and you want us to survive, your gift today is critical.
Please give now to our Mid-Year Fundraiser!

Donate Now!

The groups cite specific examples where mainstream media fell short, such as:

  • When Doug Hughes landed his gyrocopter on the Capitol lawn to draw attention to solutions that already exist to address the "corrosive influence of money in our political system," only one of the 17 segments devoted to Hughes and the gyrocopter landing provided substantial coverage to the message behind Hughes' protest.
  • When a coalition of 50 campaign finance advocacy groups called on President Obama to sign an executive order that would require federal contractors to increase their campaign spending disclosures, broadcast evening news and Sunday shows did not cover the letter at all. Nor have they covered the 700,000 petition signatures or nearly 90 rallies that took place in 30 states urging the President to act.
  • When the Federal Communications Commission board blocked congressional Democrats' proposal to strengthen political advertisement disclosures in advance of the 2016 election, broadcast evening news and Sunday shows did not cover the issue.

Noting how public opinion is turning away from "the regime of untrammeled money in elections," the letter beseeches the media corporations to improve their coverage of such reform efforts: "As the country heads into a critical election season, we hope your news and interview programs significantly increase coverage of the growing national movement working to elevate solutions to the epidemic of the unbridled influence of money in politics."

It remains to be seen how major networks will respond to such a call. After all, as The Intercept's Lee Fang pointed out last week, media companies are positioned to benefit from unlimited campaign spending. In 2012, Les Moonves, president and chief executive of CBS, memorably said, "Super PACs may be bad for America, but they're very good for CBS."

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.