FNC Journalistically Contorts Itself to Placate a Key Asset…

Between my trip last week and getting sick I wasn’t able to blog last week like I would have wanted to. But I haven’t forgotten this story. The Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone writes about a fundraising email Sean Hannity sent out on behalf of the Tea Party Patriots…

Fox News host Sean Hannity solicited donations for the Tea Party Patriots in a fundraising email sent Wednesday morning by the conservative organization.

“Please make a generous contribution of $15, $25, $50, or whatever you can afford to Tea Party Patriots’ 5 Years for Freedom $1.2 million-dollar money bomb,” Hannity wrote, noting that Feb. 27 is the fifth anniversary of the tea party movement.

It’s no secret that Hannity’s a conservative tea party supporter who offers political opinions each day on Fox News and on the radio. And Fox News has heavily promoted the tea party movement from its inception.

But Fox News in the past has drawn a line between a host expressing support for a political group or cause and actively helping to raise money on a group’s behalf — and on at least one occasion has specifically maintained that distinction for Hannity and the tea party movement.

In 2010, network executives ordered Hannity to return to New York after learning he’d been slated to star at a Cincinnati tea party fundraiser that would have aired on his primetime show.

A Fox News spokeswoman did not immediately respond with comment on the network’s current policy regarding hosts’ participation in political fundraising efforts.

Well that comment did eventually come to TVNewser

Fox News tells us Hannity’s involvement with the Tea Party group is for his radio show, and has nothing to do with his FNC show or role with the network.

Absolute grade a rubbish. What Hannity does on his radio most definitely impacts his FNC show the same way what Ed Schulz says on his radio show can get him suspended on his MSNBC show. Any time Hannity has on a Tea Party Patriots member on his FNC show, questions are going to be asked because of that fundraising email. And FNC knows it.

FNC is displaying weak knees here. It should be slapping Hannity down hard instead of carving out a lame exception based on a flimsy technicality which says more about FNC’s pushover status at not wanting to agitate one of its biggest stars than it does Hannity.

But this is, unfortunately, not an isolated incident in cable news. In fact conflicts of interest are happening on cable news with an alarming increasing frequency. Whether it’s MSNBC allowing Al Sharpton to cover his activism on their air as most famously happened with the Trayvon Martin case, or CNN protecting a key asset in Fareed Zakaria after he committed the cardinal journalistic sin of plagiarism, cable news has lost its footing. Gone are the days of strict dividing lines between journalism and opinion. Gone are the days of strict enforcement of conflict of interest issues if the person under scrutiny is important enough.

And cable news wonders why so many hold it in increasingly low regard. It’s because of stuff like this.

7 Responses to “FNC Journalistically Contorts Itself to Placate a Key Asset…”

  1. I have no problem with Sharpton exercising his first amendment right on his own time, and I’m sure I don’t object to Sean supporting his political causes on his time as long as he doesn’t violate his contracts. The sanctions several years ago by MSNBC on Olbermann and Joe S. for making political contributions were arbitrary and silly. Spud seems to image a golden age of cable news pureness that never existed, where biases were kept hidden and those siding with those predominate biases thought that a good thing. Bunk. We’re better off in the open.

  2. No holds barred, eh? Anything goes? Pathetic…

  3. that misstates what I said.

  4. Of course. But your whole argument is silly. It’s not about keeping biases hidden. It’s about compromising your network’s ability to do its job properly because questions arise about how up and up things are. You can have biases and flaunt them. That’s not the problem. The problem is carving out some bizarro world exception that can’t past the smell test because you don’t want to upset your highly priced talent but want to preserve the illusion of independence you want to put over on the public. Fair and Balanced? How can you argue you are that when you have one of your talents making email pitches for campaign style donations?

    You want openess and all biases hanging out? Well I have news for you…the networks still posture like they don’t want it. They’re all pregnant on this issue to one extent or another (some definitely more than others). But they don’t want to admit it. So you get flimsy carve outs like what Sharpton got. Like what Hannity got. They want it both ways and you are arguing for something that does not yet exist.

  5. I guess I’m still old school in the sense that, as a journalist, I don’t vote. Now, on air “journalists” are activists for partisan causes.

  6. If it makes you feel better Big Ed cancelled his plans to appear at a DNC fundraiser, so be it, but I wish he had and wish all the opinion hosts the freedom of full political expression on their own time and on their own dime.

  7. I’m with Larry on this. I find it silly that Ed Schultz or Sean Hannity have to play under the same rules as Chris Wallace or Chuck Todd. Schultz and Hannity are proud partisans and don’t hide it.

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