Friday, February 23, 2007

PBS Mentioned It

Shortly after the election:
For more, I am joined by Silas Lee, a professor of sociology at Xavier University, and head of his own public opinion research company. He is a consultant to the Democratic National Committee and has worked for Mayor Nagin as a pollster in this year's campaign. He's done additional work for the mayor in the past.

But until today, I don't recall any of the local media mentioning Silas Lee's involvement in the Nagin campaign. I was expecting an outraged reaction when I read in today's paper that Nagin's poor, cash-strapped campaign paid Silas Lee paid Nagin $13,500 for his services. Maybe it was common knowledge, but, prior to the election, I don't remember WDSU telling its viewers that its chief political analyst worked for the Nagin Campaign. Of course, WDSU often introduces Charles Rice as a political analyst and former CAO without feeling the need to tell its viewers that he was Nagin's CAO, or that he seems to have profitted from the experience.

In the past, I've criticized WGNO for not mentioning that its chief political analyst during the campaign, Jeff Crouere, was a former officer in The Greater New Orleans Republicans, a group that campaigned strongly for Nagin's re-election. However, I never meant to imply any real ethical lapse on the part of either Jeff Crouere or WGNO, just seriously bad judgement. Well, I did think it was somewhat dishonest not to mention it. But if I'm correct that Lee failed to mention his paid work for the Nagin campaign while working as an analyst for WDSU, that seems like a serious ethical breach on his part and lousy journalism on WDSU's. If most New Orleanians are reluctance to question the ethics of either Silas Lee's or the management of WDSU, they can at least laugh at Nagin's claims that the local media picks on him. They could also ask the mayor what the F*** he means by this S*** on
the city's website:
Most recently, Mayor Nagin again defied the odds by defeating twenty-two other candidates and the media to win a second term.

While neither Lee or Crouere showed any blatant bias in favor, they, along with most of the local media, insisted on complimenting both candidates for taking the high road even after Nagin began his negative campaigning. I think that was as big a reason as any for Landrie's failure to run the ads described in this John Maginnis column. Nagin stopped just short of calling Landrieu a crook, but his paid consultant and his politicl ally kept talking about the positive tone of both campaigns. If Landrieu had responded in kind, he'd have been crucified.

Conflict of interest?????
Of course it is. I don't know why more people don't think it's worth shouting about. The only thing is, I'm not 100% certain that nothing was mentioned about Lee working for Nagin prior to the election. I remember WDSU introducing him as their political analyst without mentioning it, but I suppose it is possible that I missed something.
WWL does the same thing with that sack of egomania, Greg Rigamer. He's double- or triple-dipping, being paid for campaign analysis, but also gets paid by campaigns to do work for them.
At least Rigamer wasn't WWL's main analyst and he's introduced as a private consultant. If ocal TV stations must employ people who work for private campaigns, it's ridiculous that they don't disclose what campaigns they're working for. But Lee's academic credentials gave the impression of impartiality and he was on WDSU almost every night during the election. As I remember it, WDSU did more than the stations ti try create a backlash against Brinkley's book.. I don't know if it was incumbent on the media to point it out when Nagin started sliming Landrieu, but it was absurd to compliment both candidates for avoiding negativity. The Brinkley backlash was a key part of Nagin's campaigning as the underdog, and by complimenting the positive tone, they made it almost impossible for Landrieu to slam back and they enabled Nagin's pose as the non-politician.
You ever send a post like this over to Loyola journalism professor and host of Informed Sources, Larry Lorenz? I took a couple of courses with him back in the day and I could see him calling the local press out on these non-disclosures...
That a good idea Bigshot. I didn't when you (I think it was you) suggested it right after the election, because Lorenz took a break from "Informed Sources." I'll take the time to write a tactful email and send both posts this weekend.
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