Shill Game

Friday, February 19, 2010


In a study conducted recently by The Nation, many of the talking heads on cable news were found to also be working as paid lobbyists, often with stakes in the issues they're invited on-air to discuss. Author Sebastian Jones says the problem is much more widespread than we may have suspected.

Comments [8]

upswing from USA

I wish that Rachel Maddow on MSNBC would let people know that Zbigniew Bzerzynski was Barack Obama's Foreign Affairs advisor during Obama's presidential campaign when she offers him as a disinterested source for comment on how Obama's foreign policy is faring.

She might also want to mention that Bzrezynski was complicit in two genocides, but I guess that that is for another comment board...

Feb. 22 2010 07:01 PM
Margot Callahan from Pittsburgh, PA

A solution to the problem would be to have politicians not retain their titles. When officials in the early days of our democracy left the Senate, House or Presidency, they left government and it made sense that they could retain the affiliated titles with "former" attached. Today, politicians often use their office as a springboard to other opportunities usually within the governing process, (and usually to resurface later within government.) Therefore they should lose their former titles and be known for their current work. It wouldn't be fail-safe, but it would be a start.

Feb. 21 2010 06:52 PM
Listener from Brooklyn from Brooklyn

I suspect that the former anti-nuclear-energy-turned-pro-nuke guy on Weekend Edition-Saturday yesterday is on the take. He seemed to hit on every one of the nuke industry's talking points. This guy, after opposing nuclear power now suddenly has NO DOUBTS AT ALL! - and poo-poos any concerns about adding more plants. Sounds more like a shill than someone who had a genuine change of view. Wonder if show's producers checked out the sources of this person's income.

Feb. 21 2010 02:28 PM
christa hillhouse

"Do you ever feel, for lack of a better word ... icky?"

brooke, you cracked me up! great segment.

Feb. 21 2010 12:17 PM
Celine Grenier from Capitola

Thanks, Brooke! This was one of the best segments I've heard on this show because the subject was extremely important. We live in a conflict-of-interest society. The media is full of it. Until we change this, we'll be in terrible, terrible shape.

(It might have been even better if the guest had been asked how much he made per appearance and why, if he believed the audience knowing about his conflicts was indeed important, he didn't reveal them himself when the producers were so irresponsible.)

Feb. 21 2010 04:00 AM
Nicholas Penning from Arlington, Va. usa

Why did you not ask, "How much does each station/network pay you every time you appear on one of their programs?" I used to be a television reporter and we had monthly state capitol press conferences. I arranged for the $20 or so payments for each reporter. More to the point, I recall journalist Jack W. Germond saying the only reason he stayed on the McLaughlin Group, which was getting difficult for him to sit through, was to send his daughter/son through college. That says a lot about how much 'commentators' or 'experts' or 'analysts' receive for each time they're in that box on the screen, doesn't it? How much is money the primary draw, and does their main client or employer also pay a bonus for the tv time?

Feb. 20 2010 05:33 PM
Jan Xaver from Washington DC

Why didn't Brooke challenge this guest as to why he doesn't himself inform the public of his status as a paid lobbyist regarding the issue he is discussing. I think it is duplicitous of him to say he believes the public should know, but then leave it to the station to tell them if it wishes. What convenient "ethics" he has.

Feb. 20 2010 04:49 PM
Tom McFadden from Ann Arbor, MI

What a scary piece.

I'm not sure what was worse:

the media's abdication of responsibility (and laziness) in not knowing (or disclosing) their source's affiliations and financial backers, or

your guest's ("Terry something") rationalizations about why facts don't matter; only perception and being "nice" or "likable" is what really matters in the long run.

In the early '70's on the "Today" show, Earl Landgrebe (U.S. Rep from Indiana) famously said "Don't confuse me with the facts" when discussing Richard Nixon's involvement in Watergate. The long-term Republican was consequently voted out of office in a very Republican district.

I'm not so sure that that would happen today. We seem to be moving into a new Dark Ages, where superstition and prejudice trump science and logic.

Feb. 20 2010 08:31 AM

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