Former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland, who has already served time in prison for corruption, is under new scrutiny regarding his second career as a talk radio show host.
A federal investigation is underway into allegations that the afternoon drive time host on Hartford's CBS Radio affiliate WTIC-AM and former GOP rising star received hidden financial support from one of the 2012 candidates for Connecticut's 5th Congressional seat, Republican Lisa Wilson Foley, and did not disclose it on the air as he attacked her primary opponent.
The Hartford Courant reports that Rowland recently hired a Washington, D.C. law firm to represent him in the case. At issue are allegations that Rowland became a "consultant" for nursing homes owned by Foley's family while also appearing on his radio show to "pummel Wilson Foley competitor Andrew Roraback. Some Republican leaders were startled at Rowland's testy campaigning to gather delegates for Wilson Foley."
The $30,000 payment Rowland apparently received from Foley's nursing homes may not only be a legal problem if it's found to violate campaign disclosure laws, but it's also a media ethics issue as it was reportedly not disclosed by Rowland or the station on the air.
"If in fact he's on the payroll for a candidate or a political cause and is not disclosing that, he is misusing the public trust by using a radio station to advocate for a candidate or a position there," said Harvey Jassem, a communications professor at the nearby University of Hartford. "That's, in my view, unethical. Part of the issue here is the radio station itself, which appears to be a mouthpiece for the Republican Party. He is entitled to promote his point of view, but if he is taking money to favor one cause or candidate over another then he has a responsibility to share his incentives, that he could be personally profiting from the public trust of public airwaves."
Richard F. Hanley, director of the Graduate Program in Journalism at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT., agreed.
"It certainly is an issue to have a host who had political connections in a way that were not public to continue to host," Hanley said. "It is up to CBS Radio to make these decisions to keep him a host or have him clarify his political consultancy to keep him on the air, and let the audience decide if there is a personal ideology to the guests and the audience."
WTIC did not respond to requests for comment and Rowland could not be reached Wednesday morning.
Wilson Foley and Roraback were vying for the GOP congressional nomination in 2012 along with other candidates that included former FBI agent Mike Clark and real estate developer Mike Greenberg.
The Register-Citizen of Torrington reported in 2012 that two complaints were filed with the Federal Election Commission related to the allegations, including one that specifically cited Rowland's radio show activities as a potential violation of FEC regulations.
"Anchor baby" is widely acknowledged to be a pejorative term to describe the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants. Fox News' Juan Williams has called it "derisive" and "ugly," and one Hispanic Republican group declared it to be "defamatory." So why is a national news anchor using it as if it were accurate?
On his 8 p.m. ET broadcast last night, CBS Radio News anchor Bill Whitney introduced a report this way: "They're called anchor babies, children of illegal immigrants who provide an anchor in the United States. In Arizona, there's a move afoot to weigh those anchors."
The following report, by contrast, did not use that term at all, so it's a puzzle as to why Whitney used it in the first place, let alone felt the need to portray it as an accepted description.
Sadly, Whitney's use of the phrase on CBS Radio News is not the only recent example of a mainstream outlet using these inflammatory words. Last month, Fox News Latino described the child of actors Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem as an "anchor baby."
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On his radio show, Mark Levin cited a recent study predicting that an ice age will occur in the next 10,000 to 100,000 years as purported evidence that humans should not "try and control carbon dioxide" emissions that contribute to global climate change. But Levin did not mention that the study's co-author reportedly warned against using the study to argue that "we should stop fighting warming" and stated: "There's no excuse for saying 'we've got to keep pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.' "
A New York Times article detailed the connection between numerous media military analysts and the Pentagon and defense industries, reporting that "the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform" media military analysts "into a kind of media Trojan horse -- an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks." A Media Matters review found that since January 1, 2002, the analysts named in the Times article -- many identified as having ties to the defense industry -- collectively appeared or were quoted as experts more than 4,500 times on ABC, ABC News Now, CBS, CBS Radio Network, NBC, CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, and NPR.