TV Pundits Praise Hillary Clinton On Air, Fail to Disclose Financial Ties to Her Campaign

August 14, 2016 in News, Video by D

By Lee Fang

Tune into television coverage of the presidential campaign and undoubtedly you will hear from various pundits described as “former campaign strategists” and “political contributors” explaining the latest developments of the race. But in many cases, these pundits — though introduced as neutral experts on campaigns or party politics — in fact have financial ties to the candidates they praise on the air.

Several consultants who work at firms retained by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and her affiliated Super PACs appear regularly on the major television networks, frequently touting Clinton.

A review of pundits on the major networks and cable news also found one prominent pundit who often praised Jeb Bush, without the network revealing her relationship with his campaign.

Journalism 101 teaches that reporters and TV news hosts must properly identify their sources and analysts,” says Jeff Cohen, an associate professor of journalism at Ithaca College. We reached out to NBC, CBS, CNN, and ABC News, but did not hear back.

Stephanie Cutter, for example, has appeared on multiple networks to discuss Clinton, and is typically introduced as a former campaign official for President Barack Obama. What hasn’t been disclosed in any of her appearances reviewed by The Intercept, however, is that the boutique consulting firm she co-founded, Precision Strategies, has been retained by the Clinton campaign for “digital consulting,” according to Federal Election Commission records. Precision Strategies has been paid at least $120,049 from the Clinton campaign since June of last year.

“I think that Hillary Clinton has done everything right. She has run a good campaign. She has outperformed in debates. She’s raised money. She’s got a great ground game,” said Cutter, speaking about the upcoming New Hampshire and Iowa primaries on NBC’s Meet the Press on January 17. She was introduced as “President Obama’s 2012 deputy campaign manager.” Her company’s affiliation with the Clinton campaign was not disclosed.

That was the second time Cutter came on Meet the Press to discuss the campaign. Last June, again identified only as a former Obama campaign manager, Cutter said Clinton had “achieved what she needed to achieve, that she’s a fighter, that she’s going to restore that basic economic bargain.”

Speaking about the Democratic primary on ABC News’ This Week in November, Cutter was introduced as “a supporter of Hillary Clinton” — but still not as a consultant whose firm was being paid by the campaign. When Cutter appeared on CNN to discuss the political impact of the Benghazi committee hearings on Clinton, she was similarly introduced as a Democratic strategist, not as someone whose firm is working for the candidate. Precision Strategies did not respond to a request for comment.

Maria Cardona, a CNN contributor, has appeared on a regular basis over the course the presidential campaign as a reliable voice in support of Clinton. She is also a longtime partner at the Dewey Square Group, a lobbying firmwith extensive ties to the Clinton campaign: Two Dewey Square partners serve as fundraisers for the Clinton campaign, each raising at least $100,000; both pro-Clinton Super PACs — Priorities USA Action and Correct the Record — have paid Dewey Square for consulting services during this election; and the co-founding partner of Dewey Square now serves as the chief administrative officer of the Clinton campaign. Notably, Cardona, a DNC “superdelegate” who pledged support for Clinton last year, before any of the primary elections, also contributed the maximum donation to Clinton’s campaign.

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