WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Full Disclosure for Journalists

Jun 16, 2015

George Stephanopoulos, who hosts ABC 's "This Week" and is co-host of "Good Morning America," and who was a member of President Bill Clinton's administration, gave $75,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative, then did interviews about the foundation on the air without disclosing his contribution

Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton said journalists should strive to be objective. She said Stephanopoulos had an obligation to disclose his financial support of the foundation. 

She also said he should have disclosed his donation to the network beforehand so news management could decide whether Stephanopoulos or someone else should conduct the interview.

Panelist Rich Moreno agreed that greater transparency should have been provided.  He believes Stephanopoulos and the network had three options:

  • Stephanopoulos could have recused himself from the interview. 
  • Stephanopoulos could have said something about the donation before the interview started. 
  • The network could have used an on-screen graphic to provide the information.

Panelist Rich Egger wondered whether journalists who previously worked for a politician should occasionally remind the audience of that connection.  Moreno feels that is not necessary, though journalists should try to avoid potential conflicts-of-interest such as financial contributions to campaigns or foundations. 

Moreno said perception can be as important as reality, which is why he did not vote for several years when he reported on politics in a highly partisan community. Crighton said she knows reporters who won’t vote in primaries simply to avoid the perception of bias. 

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