The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Militant Moderate

February 26, 2010

Ethics questions on pundit-candidates



Questions have been raised for some time about the ethics of persons who move from a role as political candidates to doing network programs and political commentator roles, or the other way around.  Questions are also raised about those news networks who are keeping future candidates “on staff.”  One has heard this issue raised regularly in private conversations, although rarely on air among media people.  There is something about these moves which just doesn’t seem right to a lot of people. 


Now it appears that leadership of some other TV networks have joined with some professional journalists in questioning or outright condemning this practice. 


Look at these names:  Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich.  These are three prominent names of past office holders and candidates for national office. Also Palin, Huckabee, and Gingrich are all commonly mentioned as likely candidates for the republican nomination in the 2012 presidential race.  And all three are under contract for commentary and programming with Fox News. 


Another Fox political analyst, Angela McGlowan, recently left her pundit job at Fox to declare her candidacy for congress in Mississippi the next day.  Along with those above, this appears unseemly. 


“As long as they are still newsmakers, there is strong potential for conflict,” says Andy Schotz, who is chairman of the Ethics Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists.  He remarks that at the very least, this amounts to “an advantage for analysts and creates a perception of favoritism.”  He does not say what else it does for the “news” network which so commonly follows such a practice, yet promotes itself as “fair and balanced.” 


“It is a little awkward,” says David Bohrman, Washington Bureau Chief for CNN, adding that the networks employing such past and future candidates should realize that they are being taken advantage of by people who are posturing for election advantage.  So, do we buy it here that Fox News is being used and manipulated by these candidates it purposely offers these lucrative, publicly visible positions, in front of the very distinct audience from whom they will be seeking basic support?  Negative.  From here it appears that they are in bed in a mutually beneficial back-scratching relationship. 

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