by Sherwood Ross
Since 2007, at least 75 registered lobbyists, public relations representatives and corporate officials have appeared on cable news broadcasts "with no disclosure of the corporate interests that paid them," The Nationmagazine (March 1) reveals.
Many of these people are "paid by companies and trade groups to manage their public image and promote their financial and political interests," writes the magazine's Sebastian Jones, a freelance reporter after a four-month-long probe.
"Many have been regulars on more than one of the cable networks, turning in dozens---and in some cases hundreds---of appearances," Jones reports.
For example, Tom Ridge, identified as the former governor of Pennsylvania, appeared on MSNBC's Hardball With Chris Matthews urging the White House to "create nuclear power plants." What viewers were not told, though, is that Ridge since 2005 has pocketed $530,659 in executive compensation for serving on the board of Exelon, the nation's biggest nuclear power company, Jones writes.
On the same day, last Dec. 4th, retired general Barry McCaffrey, told MSNBC viewers the war in Afghanistan would require a three-to-ten-year effort and "a lot of money." Unmentioned, Jones says, was the fact DynCorp paid McCaffrey $182,309 in 2009 alone and that DynCorp has a five-year, $5.9 billion deal to aid U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Jones describes MSNBC as "the cable network with the most egregious instances of airing guests with conflicts of interest." He notes, "Only on MSNBC was a prime-time program, Countdown, hosted by public relations operative Richard Wolffe and later by a pharmaceutical company consultant, former Governor Howard Dean, with no mention of the outside work either man was engaged in. And MSNBC has yet to introduce DynCorp's Barry McCaffrey as anything but a 'military analyst.'"