Fox Contributor Appears To Be Violating Network Rules By Pitching "Predatory" Loans
Can Fox Be Bothered To Enforce Its Own Rules?
Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI
In response to criticism over then-host Glenn Beck endorsing a gold company, Fox News claimed in 2009 that it "prohibits any on-air talent from endorsing products or serving as a product spokesperson." Today, Fox's enforcement of that policy appears to be lax, if in existence at all.
Fox News contributor and financial analyst Wayne Rogers is currently a "paid TV spokesperson" for a company pitching reverse mortgages to senior citizens. Fox has previously reported that "there's a lot of evidence" that reverse mortgages are "predatory loans." Media Matters noted that Fox News contributor Keith Ablow is also serving as a "spokesperson" and infomercial host for a diet company called GOLO.
Fox has frequently turned to questionable voices like Rogers for financial analysis. Fox last month was forced to fire analyst Tobin Smith for receiving compensation to promote the stock of Petrosonic Energy, a violation of network policy. Charles Payne, a contributor and frequent guest host for Fox News and Fox Business, was similarly compensated to endorse the now worthless stocks of at least three companies. In 2012, Fox News and Fox Business hosted John Thomas Financial CEO Thomas Belesis at least 24 times, with Fox News host Neil Cavuto calling him a "friend," and someone with "a good track record" who "I'd vote for"; Belesis was later charged with charged with defrauding investors and physically threatening associates.
Rogers appears in a commercial for Senior Home Loans (SHL), where he's identified as a "Paid TV Spokesperson," "TV Financial Expert," and an actor from MASH. He's also prominently featured on the company's website.
An April 27, 2012, press release from SHL announced Rogers' hiring as a spokesperson by noting his Fox News affiliation in the first sentence: "Wayne Rogers, well known professional actor, Broadway Producer, news contributor to the Fox Network (cashin) coupled with over forty years of experience in investments has signed on to be the spokes person for a national reverse mortgage ad campaign representing Senior Home Loans, a division of Continental Home Loans."
Rogers regularly appears as financial analyst on Fox Business, and on Fox News' weekend business programming. Rogers' Fox appearances have featured such insight as claiming we have "a fascist government" because of health care reform, and declaring that New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is "retarded."
Fox News has raised concerns about the dangers of the type of loans Rogers is hawking. During a December 6, 2012, segment on America's Newsroom, correspondent Cheryl Casone said that reverse mortgage commercials "make it look wonderful ... but many reverse mortgages are accused of being predatory loans targeting the elderly, and there's a lot of evidence to back that up." Casone added that the loans are "very controversial, and a lot of advisers advise against them."
Fox did not respond to a request for comment.