Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Blagojevich, Kudlow proves door between media and government should be locked

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Originally published on on Thu, 03/26/2009 – 12:22pm

What is it about being in the media that makes you want to work for the government and vice versa?

The classic example is MSNBC morning host Joe Scarborough, former Republican Congressman. But others are following or contemplating those footsteps.

Using the Rod Blagojevich example seems a little silly, since it was only a one-time, 2-hour stint on right-wing talk show outlet WLS-AM in Chicago. The station did offer the former governor a show if he quit his day job. Though right now, Blagojevich doesn’t have a day job, unless you count preparing for his defense in court.

Blagojevich played some Elvis on the station that used to be a rock and roll giant in the Midwest, but mostly he repeated his own talking points on why he was treated unfairly in the impeachment process. When he wasn’t promoting himself, he was tearing down current IL Governor Pat Quinn, who amusingly was on WGN-AM radio as a guest at the same time.

If Blagojevich were talking about someone other than himself or Quinn, he might have a career in this field, provided he could find headphones that won’t mess up his hair. (Full disclosure, I worked briefly part-time at WLS radio 16 years ago under previous management.)

Larry Kudlow was trying to go the other way, working from his post at CNBC to a possible run against Sen. Chris Dodd in 2010. Kudlow ran into troubles when while talking about running, he was doing a number of things that conflicted with his supposed objectivity. Kudlow ultimately decided just recently not to run for the seat, mostly since he would have to give up his luxurious seat at the cable business news channel.

While many in the MSM compared Kudlow’s desires to Chris Matthews and Arlen Specter’s seat, one huge difference was that Kudlow was putting himself into clear conflicts of interest, while Matthews was trying to avoid them.

And Matthews, along with the late Tim Russert, made the transition from politics to media.

But that door should be more carefully monitored. Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove had media gigs, yet are using them to have sway on work they are doing outside the media realm. True media people understand conflicts of interest, even if they don’t always follow them. Scarborough’s cheerleading for GE stock was stunning given that he never disclosed that MSNBC is owned by GE.

Mika Brzezinski twice in one segment said, “Parent company” without further explanation, a lame try but still better than Scarborough. Even for a former GOP politician, Scarborough should have had better ethical sense.

Government, like media, has ethics. And despite a considerable lapse in ethics in the media, somewhat due to politicians not knowing any better, we should try and improve ethics in media. Hiring people who understand this would be a start. Making sure they keep observing them would help.


Written by democracysoup

March 26, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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