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Sunday, May 20, 2018
MRC's Double Standard on TV Hosts' Alleged Conflicts of Interest
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center likes to take potshots at NBC "Meet The Press" host Chuck Todd's wife works as a Democratic communications strategist and once donated to Tim Kaine, at the time the governor of Virginia. The MRC recently brought it up again in an attempt to deflect from Fox News' Sean Hannity defending Trump lawyer Michael Cohen on TV without disclosing he's a Cohen client.

Clay Waters complained that the New York Times "shamelessly quoted NBC News political director and Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, excoriating Fox News’ ethical standards, without mentioning Todd’s own lack of disclosure." Jeffrey Lord also highlighted Todd's "conflict" as scrutiny into Hannity intensified.

But the MRC was much more defensive when it came to a Todd-like conflict involving another Fox News host.

A 2009 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard hyped how "Greta Van Susteren is clearly sick and tired of people accusing her of advising Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin." But he never bothered to explain the source of the accusation, as outlined by the Politico article to which he linked: Van Susteren's husband, John Coale, was among Palin's political advisers; the Washington Post further described Coale as among the "protecters of the Palin brand." The Huffington Post noted that "Van Susteren has enjoyed unparalleled access to Palin and her family, conducting several interviews from Alaska — most recently with new mom Bristol Palin," though Van Susteren insisted her husband's link to Palin was not responsible for that.

Two months later, Sheppard complained that "Politico on Saturday accused Greta Van Susteren of being Todd Palin's 'host AND handler' at a pre-White House Correspondents' dinner brunch, and the Fox News host is none too pleased. Sheppard gave Van Susteren space to point out that Palin was a guest of hers at a "social brunch" and intervened when another reporter tried to interview him by pointing out the brunch was off the record. Sounds more than a little like a handler's job, doesn't it?

The capper? In 2010 and 2011, Sheppard touted Palin appearances on Van Susteren's show without mentioning her familial links to Palin. And in 2013, NewsBusters' Randy Hall devoted a post to Van Susteren gushing over Palin's return to Fox News after a yearlong absence -- without any mention whatsoever that her husband served as a Palin adviser or that Van Susteren herself played media handler for Palin's husband.

It appears that, as far as the MRC is concerned, these sorts of conflicts of interests are conflicts at all when you work for a conservative "news" organization.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:58 PM EDT

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