Tell Cable News: No More PR Pundits

For Immediate Release


Steve Rendall
Tel: 212-633-6700 x13

Tell Cable News: No More PR Pundits

Channels disguise corporate propaganda as 'analysis'

NEW YORK - Scores of pundits appearing on cable news networks are paid
corporate lobbyists and PR flaks--and the networks aren't disclosing
their corporate ties. In a new report in the Nation (3/1/10), reporter Sebastian Jones writes:

2007 at least 75 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. Many
have been regulars on more than one of the cable networks, turning in
dozens--and in some cases hundreds--of appearances.

example, during the collapse of insurance giant AIG--and the ensuing
government bailout--some pundits appearing to discuss the story were,
unbeknown to viewers, actually working for AIG, as lobbyists or public
relations advisers. And as the healthcare debate unfolded throughout
the past year, a number of pundits and former lawmakers have made
numerous appearances to talk about health insurance reform--all the
while employed by insurance and pharmaceutical companies. In almost all
cases, viewers had no way of knowing the affiliations of these guests.
The allegedly liberal-leaning MSNBC, writes Jones, had

the most egregious instances of airing guests with conflicts of interest. Only on MSNBC
did Todd Boulanger, a Jack Abramoff-connected lobbyist working for
Cassidy and Associates, go on a TV rehabilitation tour with no
identification of his work, all while he was under investigation for
corruption. (He pleaded guilty in January 2009.) Only on MSNBC was a prime-time program, Countdown,
hosted by public relations operative Richard Wolffe and later by a
pharmaceutical company consultant, former Gov. Howard Dean, with no
mention of the outside work either man was engaged in. And MSNBC has yet to introduce DynCorp's Barry McCaffrey as anything but a "military analyst."

Some networks have written policies demanding that contributors and
analysts reveal their conflicts of interest. But it's hard to take
those guidelines very seriously; as Jones points out, one MSNBC official suggested that their idea of disclosure might be to post relevant information about their guests on the MSNBC website.
In a media system already dominated by official sources from government
and big business, why are cable channels relying on paid spokespeople
and lobbyists as commentators? And why are these channels hiding the
affiliations of their pundits? Join FAIR to demand answers and
accountability. Sign our petition to MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, CNBC and Fox Business Channel, demanding that they come clean about their corporate-sponsored pundits.

Click here to sign FAIR's petition.




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FAIR, the national media watch group, has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986. We work to invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for greater diversity in the press and by scrutinizing media practices that marginalize public interest, minority and dissenting viewpoints.

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