WSJ: Beck and Hannity get "paid ... to promote politically motivated groups"

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A November 9 Wall Street Journal article sheds more light on the ongoing ethics problem involving Fox News personalities, who have relentlessly endorsed, raised money, or campaigned for Republican candidates or organizations.

The Journal reports that Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity -- along with Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin -- "are being paid to use their voices and faces to promote politically motivated groups." The Journal also reported Fox News' response to Beck's actions:

"Because Glenn Beck's Mercury Radio Arts agreement predates his agreement with Fox News, Glenn has certain radio obligations with which he needs to comply," said Dianne Brandi, Fox News executive vice president for legal and business affairs.

From the Journal article:

Cable-news network MSNBC briefly suspended liberal host Keith Olbermann last week for crossing a line between the media and politics when it learned he donated $2,400 each to three Democratic Party candidates. But that line is increasingly porous--especially in the rough-and-tumble world of talk radio.

In radio, a lot of money is already flowing in the other direction. A handful of the top talk-radio hosts in the U.S.--including Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity--are being paid to use their voices and faces to promote politically motivated groups. Messrs. Beck and Hannity also have highly rated television programs on Fox News.

Mr. Beck, whose radio program averages 10 million weekly listeners, has given paid endorsements on the show since May for FreedomWorks, a Washington, D.C.-based libertarian advocacy group that worked closely with tea party groups to support dozens of conservative candidates in last Tuesday's election. As part of what are called "live-read" advertisements, Mr. Beck has urged listeners to join FreedomWorks--a group he also had expressed support for prior to the commercial advertising arrangement.

Mr. Beck declined to comment directly, but Christopher Balfe, president and chief operating officer of Mr. Beck's production company, said in a statement the spots are no different than any other advertising and Mr. Beck won't endorse any service or product he doesn't believe in. Mr. Beck previously has also dropped at least one advertiser after he no longer supported the company, the spokesman said.

[...]

TV news networks generally do not allow live-read sponsorships like those in the radio world--though there are sometimes exceptions for hosts who also have radio shows.

"Because Glenn Beck's Mercury Radio Arts agreement predates his agreement with Fox News, Glenn has certain radio obligations with which he needs to comply," said Dianne Brandi, Fox News executive vice president for legal and business affairs. (Fox News and The Wall Street Journal are owned by News Corp.)

Network/Outlet
Wall Street Journal
Person
Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin
Stories/Interests
Media Ethics
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