Veteran journalism experts and two former NBC News presidents are urging CNBC to remove senior contributor Larry Kudlow from the channel as he lays the groundwork for a potential campaign for the U.S. Senate.
Kudlow has said he is "moving toward" a Senate run in Connecticut with no apparent action from the network.
Among Kudlow's steps are interviewing potential campaign staff, creating strategy, and promoting "a test-the-water committee, which would become the campaign." At the same time, CNBC has allowed Kudlow to use its platform to attack potential Democratic opponent Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
In 2010, when Kudlow was also rumored to be weighing a run for office, CNBC said it would "change" Kudlow's status with the network if he started "seriously considering" running.
Asked about Kudlow's latest apparent political aspirations, a CNBC spokesperson told Media Matters on Monday, "Larry Kudlow is not a CNBC employee and no longer anchors a show and hasn't since March 28, 2014. He is now a senior contributor."
CNBC offered the same response to the Washington Examiner when the paper asked about Kudlow in September. The Examiner noted at the time, "Kudlow is, however, under contract with CNBC. The spokesperson would not comment on the terms of that arrangement, Kudlow's compensation, or when exactly CNBC would make a decision on its relationship with him as he considers a run for public office."
In a press release announcing its October 2015 Republican debate coverage, CNBC called Kudlow one of its "top" contributors and touted his involvement in the network's "special programming" surrounding the debate. He has recently been covering the Republican primary for the network from Iowa and New Hampshire.
In comments to Media Matters, news veterans criticized Kudlow and the network.
"If I were still there I would not allow it," said William Small, who served as NBC News president from 1979-1982. "It's a misuse of a news division, a news division is not supposed to take sides. There are a lot of people, especially at Fox, who do, but it never happened on my shift. That's a conflict of interest. I'm surprised that CNBC would allow that."
Richard Wald, a former NBC News president from 1972-1977, said CNBC should make Kudlow clarify what he is doing and act accordingly by taking him off the air if he is running.
"The first step is for the management of the network to sit down with Mr. Kudlow and find out his intentions and his timing. They should not skirt the ethical positions by deliberately not knowing," Wald said via email. "He can't use the network for political advantage if he is going into electoral politics. If the network finds that he is about to join the contest, or will do so on a date certain, then they should be prepared -- as you say they have stated before -- to take him off the air until the election is over."
Several former network news reporters agreed.
"Anchors/reporters/'contributors' should not -- and should not be allowed -- to use a network to advance their political ambitions," Marvin Kalb, a 30-year Washington reporter and former host of Meet the Press, said via email. "This is done regularly on Fox, and it should not now spread to CNBC. If anyone, Kudlow included, wants to prepare a campaign for political office, it should not be from his or her perch atop a network."
Frank Sesno, former CNN Washington correspondent and current director of the School of Media & Public Affairs at George Washington University, said Kudlow's actions are a "very bright red flag" for CNBC management.
"The network cannot, should not, doesn't want to be used as a crass launching pad for someone's political future," Sesno said. "If he hasn't had meetings with network executives, if he hasn't he's overdue. If he hasn't crossed the line, he's very, very close to it. This is not hard, if you are the head of the network you call the guy in and ask if he is running, if he says 'yes,' he is off the air. If he says 'no,' he goes back to work."
Kelly McBride, ethics instructor the Poynter Institute, echoed that view.
"CNBC should step in here and tell Larry he can't use his on-air platform as an exploratory committee because that's not in the best interests of the network and its audience," she said. "They should force him to make his decision and get on with it, now that he's already mentioned it. At the very least, he shouldn't talk about it on air again."
Edward Wasserman, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, said CNBC's problem is that anything Kudlow says, especially related to financial interests that might be funding his campaign down the road, is tainted.
"It is a straight-up conflict of interest," Wasserman said. "The reality is that he cannot help but filter and decide what he is going to put on the air in light of how it's going to serve that ambition. And once he's done that, he is a classic conflict of interest, his judgment is impaired by a classic outside entanglement."
Media figures are erroneously attributing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's narrow victory in the Iowa caucuses to her wins in coin tosses held at several precincts to determine the apportionment of unassigned delegates. Media figures claiming that coin tosses could have flipped the outcome misunderstand the caucus process by wrongly conflating county-level delegates -- which the coin tosses assign -- and state delegate equivalents (SDEs). As The Des Moines Register explained, the coin flips "had an extremely small effect on the overall outcome."
Right-wing media are hyping a letter from the intelligence community's inspector general claiming some of Hillary Clinton's emails from her time as secretary of state contained information classified above "top secret." However, the development that Clinton's emails reportedly mention widely-known public information about the country's drone operation was already covered by the media in 2015.
Right-wing media leapt to criticize the Iran nuclear deal following the brief detention of American sailors by Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf. However, foreign policy experts in the media are crediting the deal and the diplomatic contacts created by it for the quick release of the sailors.
Media outlets are challenging both the substance and form of Ted Cruz's latest anti-immigration ad, calling it out for factual errors as well as racism and classism.
Media should highlight the importance that gun violence prevention measures have on Latinos when reporting on President Obama's executive actions designed to address the issue. The issue of gun violence particularly impacts Latinos -- who widely support gun violence prevention measures -- since Latinos are disproportionately affected by fatal shootings despite being less likely to own guns themselves.
While media lambasted Donald Trump for his "R-rated," "vulgar," and "astonishingly sexist" criticisms of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Fox & Friends gave the Republican presidential front-runner a pass by avoiding the subject altogether, despite having him on the show to talk about Clinton.
Media are comparing Hillary Clinton's debate claim that ISIS recruiters are "showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam" to Trump's falsehood that thousands of Muslims celebrated the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Desperate to declare that both parties are engaged in the same behavior, these outlets are pushing a false equivalence that ignores that Trump's bigoted comments are fomenting and sought to capitalize on anti-Muslim sentiment that experts agree is being used by ISIS to attract recruits, while Clinton's comment sought to bring attention to that behavior.
Fox News and CNN virtually ignored reports that alleged Planned Parenthood shooter Robert L. Dear admitted "I'm guilty," and said "I'm a warrior for the babies" during his first courtroom appearance, where he is charged with killing three and wounding nine. A Media Matters analysis of MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News determined that Fox spent just 30 seconds covering Dear's statements--after leading the charge in frequently airing the phrase "baby parts," that the shooter reportedly used. CNN devoted less than 3 minutes of coverage to Dear's statements, while MSNBC spent over 21 minutes noting his admission of guilt and claim that he is "a warrior for the babies."
Media are calling out Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States for marginalizing Muslims and helping ISIS recruitment tactics. Such criticism echoes statements from the U.S. Department of Defense explaining that "anything that creates tensions and creates the notion that the United States is at odds with the Muslim faith and Islam would be counterproductive to our efforts right now" to combat ISIS.
Media figures across the ideological spectrum are condemning Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, calling it "dangerous," a violation of the First Amendment, and "fascistic." Trump's proposal builds on previous calls from Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush to exclude Muslim Syrian refugees from entering the United States.
In the wake of the December 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, right-wing media are advocating for fellow civilians to profile Muslims and Muslim-Americans and urging them to "pick up the phone and call a cop" "if you see anything that's out of the normal," dismissing concerns about Islamophobia as "political correctness."
After the December 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California that left 14 dead and 17 more injured, conservative media distorted widespread criticism of Republican presidential candidates offering only their "thoughts and prayers" in response to the shooting, with no mention of proposals to prevent future gun violence, as an attempt "try to take God away."
Fox News baselessly claimed that the Obama administration ordered military officials to manipulate intelligence about ISIS after it was reported that the Pentagon was expanding an investigation into allegations that intelligence was altered to make the terror group look weaker than it was. However, the accusations of manipulation have pointed only to senior United States Central Command officials, not the White House.
Politico reported that NBC News President Deborah Turness used the word "illegals" - a derogatory term viewed as an offensive slur by many Latinos - during a meeting with Hispanic lawmakers about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's appearance on Saturday Night Live.
Several media outlets have stopped using the term "illegals" to describe undocumented immigrants. The Associated Press Stylebook instructs journalists against "the use of 'illegal' to describe a person," and The New York Times followed suit. The National Associated of Hispanic Journalists, in a March 2006 press release calling on media to stop using "illegals" as a noun, explained that using that term "crosses the line by criminalizing the person," and the Asian American Journalists Association and National Association of Black Journalists issued similar statements in 2006.
The November 19 Politico article explained that members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus were looking for an explanation from NBC of why Trump hosted SNL, after the network decided to cut all business ties with Trump in the wake of his insulting comments that Mexicans are "rapists." NBC's decision to allow Trump to host the show was met with protest by immigrant advocacy groups, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus issued a statement asking NBC to disinvite Trump from hosting. According to Politico, Turness used the term "illegals" near the beginning of the meeting "that was already expected to be tense":
NBC News President Deborah Turness committed a major blunder -- as far as the Hispanic lawmakers were concerned -- when she described undocumented immigrants as "illegals," a term that many in the Latino community find highly offensive.
Turness was describing NBC's integration with their Spanish-language network Telemundo, which included coverage of Pope Francis' visit to the U.S. and his interaction with a young girl who was afraid her parents would be deported because they're "illegals."
"I'm going to stop you right there. We use the term undocumented immigrants," Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) interrupted.
That exchange kicked off a meeting that was already expected to be tense. Lawmakers were hoping for an explanation of why Trump hosted Saturday Night Live, despite formal protests from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. MSNBC and NBC News executives -- who are part of a separate entity from NBC's entertainment division, which oversees SNL -- came expecting to talk about the progress they've made in making their newsrooms more diverse.
Vargas later told POLITICO, "She was saying how they've done all these great things and then boom, she said 'illegals.'"