Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Most Busted Name In News

PR-wise it's been a pretty shitty week for CNN, all things considered.

First Jon Stewart and The Daily Show mercilessly ridicules the network for its in-depth coverage of a Saturday Night Live sketch.

Now this: One of CNN's most ubiquitous political contributors -- GOP "strategist" and health care reform hitman Alex Castellanos -- has been outed as being in the pocket of the private health insurance industry he's regularly championing on-air. This is what's known as a conflict of interest, for those of you playing at home -- and it's a very big ethical no-no. What's an even bigger ethical no-no, though, is not bothering to disclose the conflict of interest to the audience when you know about it.

If CNN didn't know Castellanos was working for the insurance industry, then they're incompetent.

If they knew about it and said nothing, then they're completely disreputable.

Either way, it speaks volumes about CNN these days.

The New York Times: CNN To Disclose Contributor's Ties to Advocacy Group/10.15.09


Anonymous said...

When CNN copied and pasted an unverified Wikipedia quote and attributed it to Rush Limbaugh, the irony Gods must have been dancing around the ole' "fuck-me" fire.

Anonymous said...

The headline says it all. They got busted, so now they have to disclose. Duh!

CNNfan said...

President Obama said, “I've got one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my administration,”

Could that one television station turn out to be CNN ? Uh Oh! This could be scandalous!

FOX PR and FOX Studio are awesome. FOX News is viewed as valuable by CNNfans and FOXfans... However, a total lock on first place tends to lead to excessive yawning. It's not like The President even mentioned FOX News.

CNN at the center of a scandal, who knew ? Better tune in to see how this unfolds.

Anonymous said...

CNN - Cause it's Not about the News!


CNN - Contributors' News Network!

Nate said...

Oh, CNNFan, how we've missed you!

Suzy said...

AHIP is a great organization. It's an advocacy group that makes sure, among other very worthwhile things, that insurance companies are accountable to the people they serve. For Pete's sake, if we go around measuring organizations and the people associated with them with broad, sweeping generalizations, no one - not a one of us - will be impartial, fair, even-handed, whatever you want to call it. My question to you, Chez, is how can we assume that Castellanos is automatically biased simply because of his association with AHIP? That's kind of like CNN assuming you couldn't do your job because of your blog. Which in Castellanos' case here is an ironic opposition.

Just a thought folks. And no, it's not a "gotcha Chez" thing I bring up here. I'm just trying to not pull a conservative 'ACORN' reaction to this.

I work in the health insurance industry and still see merit to both sides of the health reform debate. And there are thousands like me who aren't just wonks for one side or the other.

kanye said...

Meh...why should anyone care about this?

Especially, when there's a bright, shiny object floating through the sky that needs to be stared at.

Our press corps has the effective will of a school of trout.

CNNfan said...

Suzy said, "That's kind of like CNN assuming you couldn't do your job because of your blog. Which in Castellanos' case here is an ironic opposition."

@Suzy: And yes, it is a "gotcha Suzy" thing, in kind of fact checking sort of way. Are you actually comparing Chez' blog to: AHIP, "Providing Health Benefits for Over 200 Million Americans" ? That would make Deus Ex Malcontent bigger than facebook, twitter, myspace and combined.


Credit to Jacki Schechner for her article on the AHIP press release quoted and cited in this commentary.

Chez said...

Suzy, just for a minute I'm going to put the entire issue of whether or not the health insurance lobby is or isn't a quality organization aside to say this: It doesn't matter anyway. The kind of group the AHIP is is completely irrelevant. The bottom line is you had a guy taking money from them, then going on national television -- on a relatively respected news outlet -- casting himself as a somewhat free-thinking and impartial analyst on the very subject he was being paid to take a side on. Castellanos not disclosing that fact is unethical. CNN either not knowing about it or not disclosing it is equally wrong.

Suzy said...

Chez, I get your point that CNN and Castellanos (and anyone else who opens their mouth on TV) should disclose their past and current connections to organizations (so we can assume their bias ahead of time and not be so shocked when we find it out later), but the point I'm trying to make is that we've gotten to a place in digesting information from mass media where impartiality is impossible. NOBODY trusts anyone because the assumption is that if you've so much as sat at a lecture given by an organization (much less received money), then you give an opinion that supports that organization's position, and then SOMEONE FINDS OUT ABOUT IT *gasp*, your credibility is shot to hell by one side of the argument or another. It's just sad. I could give a rat's ass about Castellanos and CNN, but people's unwillingness to believe that some people can do their best to speak to a topic without considering their wallet, and instead, consider facts just sucks. I'm not saying that's what Castellanos does, just commenting on what I guess is a separate issue.

Anonymous said...

@ CNNfan, you're an idiot.

drater said...

Suzy, it may be possible for someone to give an opinion without being influenced by a payoff, but that's not for Castellanos to decide. The right thing to do is admit the relationship up front so the viewer can judge whether he's being unbiased or not. The fact that he didn't do that means he's dishonest or has no understanding of ethics, and either of those should be pretty damaging to one's credibility. And we're not talking about attending a lecture, but accepting a check for probably six figures.

Benoit from Ottawa said...

@ Anonymous 2:03:

Try harder.