There has been a wild debate surging across the surface of the political media concerning the Democratic Party announcement concerning their dozen slated presidential candidate debates. The Democrats came forward and declared that Fox News would be prevented from hosting any of the debates. The reasons given were both spurious and hilarious.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) cited a report from The New Yorker, written by the dubious Jane Mayer. In her piece, Mayer allegedly illustrated deep ties between Fox News and the Trump administration. Of particular note was that the network supposedly covered up a story regarding the Stormy Daniels connection to Trump.
Fox News editor Ken LaCorte was the official who decided against running the story by reporter Diana Falzone. In an op-ed he wrote at Mediaite, LaCorte refutes Mayer’s account of things, detailing what was behind the decision and stating how his attempts to reach Mayer to provide clarifications were rebuffed.
Regardless of these issues, this article provides numerous questions regarding Democrats’ standard. Adding to the questionable rationale was CNN honcho Jeffrey Zucker jumping into the debate. Zucker had some choice opinions regarding Fox and President Donald Trump, words which become the basis to arrive at another conclusion: NBC News should be excluded from any Democratic Party debates as well.
The Donald’s Boss Apprenticed Him For Candidacy
“I think the question should be, is Fox state-run TV or is the White House state-run government by Fox TV?” Zucker posed that false equivalency last weekend at the SXSW Festival. In response to the DNC decision, Zucker ramped up the rhetoric, declaring Fox a “propaganda outlet.”
Listening to Zucker lecture anyone on the integrity of a network in regards to an election, and specifically a debate, is a near impossible feat. Let us not forget that it was during the Democratic primary season ahead of the 2016 election that CNN was embroiled in a serious ethical impropriety. Their on-air political commentator Donna Brazile was discovered to have fed debate questions to the Clinton campaign ahead of a debate the network was hosting.
Paste Magazine recently reported that in a recent town hall CNN staged for candidate Bernie Sanders there were questions regarding who was selected to ask questions. It appeared the news network could have been stacking the audience by planting numerous Democratic Party operatives and misidentifying them in front of the cameras. But please, Zucker, lecture away about debate propriety.
Following the DNC announcement on March 6, Fox News Senior Vice President Bill Sammon responded by noting his network has led all the others in viewers for years, and by listing numerous Fox news anchors with sterling journalistic reputations. Zucker, however, was having none of it.
“They chose to work at Fox and they don’t get to hide behind the fact that they’re excellent journalists or anchors,” said the CNN boss, speaking as if his network does not employ opinionated talking heads. “The fact is they work at a place that has done tremendous damage to this country.” His contention is that working in tandem with Trump is the damaging aspect here, so judging from his own standard, there’s one name more culpable in granting that power to Trump: Jeffrey Zucker.
Before he moved over to CNN, Zucker had been in the employ of NBC. He was placed in charge of the NBC entertainment division, and one of his first moves was to grant a reality television show to Trump, “The Apprentice.” The show became a long-running hit, spinning off “Celebrity Apprentice” and helping to refloat the flagging network in the ratings. So enamored was he of Trump that the studio titan wanted to broadcast Trump’s marriage to Melania live on the network.
Zucker rode this wave and eventually rose to head of NBC, then leveraged that success to take over the reins of the news network CNN. By 2015, Zucker saw his once-prized asset toss his name into consideration for the Republican presidential nomination and chose to ride his meal ticket once again. In the run-up to the GOP nomination, candidate Trump was favored with copious amounts of media attention (estimates provide the candidate well over $2 billion in free media exposure).
Zucker Remained a Willing Participant
CNN was not shy in granting Trump numerous chances to appear on their airwaves, with Zucker turning his network over once again to his proven ally for ratings. They both benefited, with Trump securing the eventual nomination. However Zucker cannot be given all of that credit. Yet another outlet was more than happy to turn to the mercurial man from Manhattan.
MSNBC was also a willing participant, recognizing that Trump was a twofold gift––he drew an audience, and he was the choice of Hillary Clinton for general election opponent. That win-win enticement was too much to resist. Joe Scarborough, one of President Trump’s most vocal opponents these days, could not have candidate Trump on his show often enough during the run-up to the primary. Trump was such a frequent presence on “Morning Joe” in that period as to almost be considered a co-host.
Still another NBC News personality has a connection with Democrats that raises some questions of the possibility of a major conflict of interest. In a recent interview at the end of last month, NBC’s Chuck Todd declared he as of yet did not know if he would be moderating any of the Democratic debates. Slated for June, NBC News will be hosting a number of these debates across a number of its networks. Todd, host of “Meet The Press” as well as “MTP Daily” on MSNBC, will be playing a significant role.
Currently he is busy working out the logistics with so many candidates, stating to The Daily Beast that they have plans for two debates on successive nights this summer to accommodate the growing field of names. Even if he doesn’t moderate, Todd will be deeply involved.
Along with his hosting duties, Todd is the regular analyst on “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt,” because he serves as the political director of NBC News. The question is, should he? He has many related conflicts of interest due to his spouse, Kristian Denny Todd.
Across the news media, there are numerous family connections between journalists and those in government. While there is nothing particularly unique about the Todds in this case, there are a number of reasons to wonder if there could be cause for concern about bias creeping into the debate process.
Kristian Denny Todd is one of the co-founders of Maverick Strategies + Mail, a marketing and campaign outfit that works on behalf of businesses and nonprofit organizations. They also work on political campaigns, exclusively for Democratic Party players. The company has worked on behalf of the state Democratic Parties of South Dakota, Iowa, and North Carolina.
Maverick counts among its clients presidential contenders including Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, and Tulsi Gabbard. During the 2016 campaign, Maverick was paid $2 million from the Sanders campaign alone. Chuck has, in the past, lashed out at others regarding potential conflicts of interest, but he has been steadfast in not revealing his wife’s connections when covering candidates she works with, becoming even defensive about the affiliations if asked.
It is rather apparent why Democrat leadership would want to steer clear of Fox News, and aim instead for the friendlier environs of the other networks. But it’s silly to condemn Fox when at least equal conflicts of interest occur in greater amounts at CNN and NBC News.