Sep 28

Fair, balanced and well compensated

TODAY'S GUEST POST IS BY PEPPERCOMMER BETH STARKIN.

A post in Monday's POLITICO highlighted an interesting issue in that four of the anticipated  GOP candidates for the 2012 election are currently on FOX’s payroll.  This raises several concerns from both a communication and reputation standpoint, with the overarching issue that this essentially gives each of these potential candidates the opportunity to be paid to disguise Fox-news-gop their campaigning as news.  Despite the “fair and balanced” tagline, being on FOX’s payroll offers these politicians an opportunity that is anything but. 

Unlike other candidates, who will have to answer to reporters who may question their stances and proposed policies, these individuals have free reign to spread their messages without needing to answer to anyone but themselves.  In fact, no-compete clauses in the contracts of each pretty well guarantee that they won’t have to answer tough questions from other journalists, as they are forbidden from appearing on other stations.  When no one can challenge you, it’s pretty easy to keep your reputation intact and make the case that your solutions are best.

And what about the other candidates?  Is it fair that they will be up against a competitor who has unbridled access to the media, who in fact is being paid to share his/her opinions and publically stump?  I dare say, no.  They will have to fight that much harder to gain even the same level of recognition as their commentator competition, much less support for their stances and agendas.

As for all the other media outlets, they are stuck between a rock and a hard place.  How can you cover an election when you don’t have access to many of the expected candidates?  Is it fair to throw down the gauntlet and openly question stances and positions when the person being questioned isn’t available to answer?  Can you just ignore legitimate concerns because someone can’t appear on your station? 

Unfortunately, it’s the American people who are ultimately hurt because they can’t get access to the full picture about our candidates for the most important job someone can hold in this country.