Speaking Fee-itis…

As if Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz, and Dick Morris weren’t enough scandals for this month…CJR Daily’s Paul Starobin writes about the thorny issue of speaking fees and a new cable news name gets tossed out into “Controversyland”…

Fareed Zakaria, host of the weekly CNN show Fareed Zakaria GPS, has a rate of $75,000, as reported in Harper’s. His general topic on the show is geopolitics, but he has covered Occupy Wall Street and the European financial crisis and interviewed Mohamed A. El-Erian, the CEO of the investment firm Pimco. Over the years, he has been retained for speeches by numerous financial firms, including Baker Capital, Catterton Partners, Driehaus Capital Management, ING, Merrill Lynch, Oak Investment Partners, Charles Schwab, and T. Rowe Price, according to the website of the Royce Carlton speakers bureau.

Zakaria didn’t respond to a request for comment, either, but a CNN spokeswoman said: “We have full confidence in Fareed Zakaria’s professionalism and judgment and do not think his outside speaking appearances interfere with his CNN responsibilities on his weekly show or his commentary on CNN.”

CNN’s rules differ from CNBC’s apparently…according to Starobin…

CNBC, which features wall-to-wall coverage of the financial markets, also has admirably tight standards. If star anchor Maria Bartiromo wants to speak at an event for investors, that’s fine, with permission from her bosses, but she cannot be paid. And this rule applies to events sponsored by any other business interest as well as nonprofits.

And then there’s this about John Harwood…

John Harwood, of CNBC and The New York Times, can attest to the reluctance of journalists to clean up their acts on this front. Back in the mid-1990s, as a Wall Street Journal staffer, he ran for a seat on a committee of correspondents that set the standards for issuing daily press passes to congressional reporters. His sound but un-winning platform: require journalists to disclose sources of outside income, including speaking engagements. His colleagues rejected him for the position.

Speaking fees are “to me more an appearance issue than an actual conflict,” Harwood recently told me, “but nobody should be under the illusion that our credibility doesn’t need shoring up.”


5 Responses to “Speaking Fee-itis…”

  1. I have no problem with pundits and even hosts collecting speaking fees from groups they advocate for even if there are of a partisan nature. I look at these speaking fees the same as I do profits from writing a book or media article.

    I don’t even see a problem with cable news nets actively supporting political parties or policies. After all their owners give big money to political parties so why the fig leaf of non-partisanship when an employee supports a political party or a news net has bias political coverage. The ship of non-partisan political coverage sailed years ago and it’s time to stop pretending were outraged when someone says a media personality is biased. Time to get over it and move on to more interesting topics..

  2. imnotblue Says:

    I’m not sure I can argue with what you wrote, fritz. My only request would be that they disclose such contributions and associations when commenting on related stories.

    All this is strikingly similar (yet nobody has pointed it out) to Glenn Beck and his gold sponsorship. Remember how up in arms everyone on the left was that he’d say “Gold is a good investment,” AND then be sponsored by gold? How is that different than Schultz saying “Unions are good,” and then getting a big check from them?

  3. ^^I see a big difference with Beck and gold. His avocation was more an infomercial than an avocation of a political policy political party or ideology. I don’t buy his survivalist rhetoric for a moment.

    If Ed was saying buy a Ford because it was union made and was being paid by Ford, you would be right. He wasn’t and your just wrong – full stop.

  4. imnotblue Says:

    Okay, first… I’m not sure you’re using the word “avocation” to mean what you want it to mean:

    av·o·ca·tion – An activity taken up in addition to one’s regular work or profession, usually for enjoyment; a hobby.

    Anyway, ignoring that…

    Beck pushed gold as a good investment. Looking at the price of gold over the past few years (independently, and in relation to the dollar), and you’ll find gold has gone up substantially. So while you call it “survivalist,” fiscally, there is no debating whether or not Beck was right or wrong… gold was a good investment.

    Ed is pushing Unions (the product), and encouraging his listeners/viewers to support them. He says joining them, will help make your life, our life, everyone’s lives better. Sure, it may not quench your thirst, provide dividends, or get you to the store and back… but it’s still a product.

    Ed is saying join the Unions, they are great for America, and refraining from any criticism of them or their practices… and then collecting a paycheck. Without disclosing that he is financially backed by the Unions, and has a fiscal investment in them gaining more power, he is acting unethically… full stop, start again, turn around, -whatever- it all remains the same.

    In short, Ed is actually doing exactly what the left screamed Beck was doing… except the left LIKES the Unions… so “it’s different.”

  5. aufsperrdienst ansfelden…

    […]Speaking Fee-itis… « Inside Cable News[…]…

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