Carville/Begala to advise Kerry-- Good journalism practice?

At what point do the News services cross the line into political advocacy?

As some of you may have heard, Carville and Begala (from CNN’s Crossfire) have signed on as unpaid advisors to Kerry.

Granted, these guys are news ANALYSTS, and not strictly newscasters, but this seems to be a very questionable journalistic practice at best. We’ve already seen Ron Reagan (of MSNBC) speaking at the Democratic Convention, although one might argue that was a one-shot deal.

At the very, very least, Carville and Begala should clearly announce at the beginning of each show (and once or twice during the show) that they are directly affiliated with the Kerry campaign. One might be just as worried about the flow of info from them to Kerry as one might be about the flow in the opposite direction.

Why would CNN allow such a practice?

Why do you think anyone would be fooled by it? The boundaries between journalism and advocacy, always blurred, disappeared long ago, before even Fox was created as the GOP’s propaganda wing. Remember George Will helping prep Reagan for his debate with Carter, then going on the air to proclaim how well he’d done? Nonpartisanism in journalism is observed more in the breach, and always has been.

All we can hope for in the name of fairness and objectivity is roughly equal time between the partisans, and this development helps restore some of it. Real, nonpartisan objectivity never gets clear credit for being that anyway, even when you do come across it.

So get over it. Your guy still gets all the fawning any pol could ever hope for.

Fox News’s media watchdog program, Fox News Watch, reported that Fox does have certain analysts advising Bush, but that they are not program anchors like the ones from CNN. It was not clear (at least to me) why they believed that made a difference.

I think it’s very bad for journalism, but this Carville/Begala event is such a small drop in the bucket, I just can’t get exercised over it.

If I were in charge of making ethical rules for the political news media, I would have some pretty strict rules, such as not letting anyone act as a news reporter or “analyst” who has been involved with politics in the past five years. Even that would be only one of many issues.

Huh. I’ve always thought of Carville as a political advisor first and a news analyst second; his role on the show is definitely partisan, wouldn’t you say? I don’t see any conflict of interest, any more than I’d see a conflict of interest if Robert Novak advised the Bush campaign.


I agree with Daniel. It’s much ado about nothing.

This sort of practice, which has involved individuals affiliated with candidates from both parties, does cross some sort of line. It’s a heck of a blurry line, though - who doesn’t think that Bob Novak is some species of “informal adviser” to the Bush campaign, even though he doesn’t have official “unpaid” status?
I’d have more reaction if it involved a reporter/correspondent.

I’m not sure what you mean by this. They’re going to run to Kerry with tidbits about what the other commentators think?

Coordination between what the campaign is doing at any given time and what is said about which issue at any given time on Crossfire.

There is no question that these guys are “on the left”, as they say in the program. Being “on the left” and being ***directly ***tied to a presidential campaign are, I believe, two quite different things.

While the two should be separate, I think you’ve got it backward. Carville and Begala (and others like them) are on TV because they are insiders. So you have to expect them to go back to the inside sometimes. It’s the same with sports networks using athletes. Sometimes they’re not retired, other times they make comebacks. It’s what they do, and they’re only of interest because they’re been there. I don’t think it’s good journalism at all, but they’re not reporters. They’re there to analyze the news from the perspective they have gained in politics. I do wish there was a firmer standard here, but TV has obviously given up on such things.

In general I think your right, journalists shouldn’t be affiliated with political campaigns.

I really don’t think to Begala and Carville as journalists though, I’d say that they’re political consultants who have a TV show. They were choosen because they were consultants for Clinton/Gore to represent the Democratic side of whatever they’re hollering about on Crossfire on a given day. I can’t imagine that they would be there if it wasn’t for their political activities, and they certainly are in no way presented as objective, in fact they’re touted for their partisanship. Not everything on a cable news network is news (unfortunatly) and Crossfire is one of those things.

If Dan Rather starts pulling this, then I’ll be pissed.

During the 1988 presidential campaign, George Will all but shouted, on air, on ABC, on This Week, that Bush f-ed up his opportunites, right until the election. If he had Brinkley’s cujones, he might have said ‘Bullshit’ too. He all but campaigned to be an advisor to the Bush campaign, so he can right the ship.

I see the same thing happening here.

Since when are Begala and Carville “journalists?” They are simply talking heads on an opinion show. Neither of them has made any pretense to objectivity. Neither of them reports the news. Neither of them can realistically said to be “journalists” under any definition I’m aware of.

Just because they’re on a network that reports news does not make every regular on every show a “journalist” unles they report some news once in a while. These guys are purely editorialists. There is no ethical conflict.

Here is the story from the (liberal) media watchdog group FAIR:

At least in this case, the advising is public knowledge. And, like others have said, I think few people are likely to mistake Begala and Carville as unbiased observers. I do think there should be some standards for disclosure of these things, though I’m not really sure what the details should be.

This doesn’t bother me. If Ralph Reed, Bob Novak, or Tucker Carlson was shown to be an advisor to the Bush campaign, I would still feel the same way. *Crossfire * is not a news show.

If Judy Woodruff or Bernard Shaw joined a campaign, then they should resign their position at CNN.

In fact, it is interesting to see former insiders such as Pat Buchanan discuss the possibility of not voting for Bush.