Hugs, kisses, contributions and flat-out shilling – what’s going on between TV anchors and politicians in this crazed election season anyway? And why does so much of this kissing up involve the Clintons?
First, we found out ABC anchorman George Stephanopoulos, former communications director and senior adviser to President Bill Clinton, gave $75,000 to the foundation run by Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton – and didn’t disclose any of it.
Once the story about the contribution broke, Stephanopolous made it sound like an oversight on his part and said in “hindsight” he should have “taken the extra step” of disclosing.
But that’s not an “extra step.” It’s the first step, and that failure shows how skewed his thinking is.
Then we found out PBS “NewsHour” co-anchor Judy Woodruff also gave the Foundation $250.
That might seem like peanuts, but it is the act, not the amount, that matters when we are talking ethical and moral behavior.
In January came Chris Cuomo kissing Hillary Clinton when she arrived onstage from a TV town hall meeting he moderated in Iowa.
This week, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough was back in the news for his various and ongoing forms of kissing up to Donald Trump.
In August, I wrote about Scarborough bragging on air about calling Trump up and “advising” him on his campaign.
In that same column, I also criticized Scarborough for a highly inappropriate on-air exchange about the MSNBC host’s brother, George, having access to the candidate at the politician's then-upcoming appearance in Alabama that week.
Scarborough later went on Facebook to write about his brother’s visit on the Trump plane as the candidate arrived for an outdoor stadium rally in Mobile. Scarborough was rapturous in his praise of Trump in the wake of the family favor.
At the time, I asked if this wasn’t just the kind of coziness between the political and media elites that the public says it hates. Now I scream that question with the four hairs left on my head totally on fire. And I wonder why news executives continue to ignore the anger we all know is out there in the country and let their organizations be seen as accommodating to and kissy-face with politicians.
Why don’t executives just tell the talent to stop it and at least try to look like they represent and, God forbid, actually care about the people who watch them first and foremost? Don’t they know any better themselves?
Is the problem that some of these people who now serve in highly visible journalistic roles come from the world of partisan politics and were never socialized to nor accepting of the higher values to which journalism aspires?
How did this kind of behavior among the very people who are supposed to vet the candidates on behalf of the public in an election year become acceptable?
I am not saying you have to be adversarial. But how about not being totally in the tank – or appearing that way to your audiences?